Corporations

End Corporate Welfare

Stop giving handouts to big business

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In America today, the biggest recipients of handouts are not poor people. They're corporations.

General Electric CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt is super-close to President Obama. The president named Immelt chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Before that, Immelt was on Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He's a regular companion when Obama travels abroad to hawk American exports. (Why does business need government to do that?)

"Jeff Immelt is perhaps the CEO who is most cozy with President Obama," says journalist Tim Carney. "General Electric is structuring their business around where government is going … high-speed rail, solar, wind. GE is lining up to get what government is handing out."

Businesses love to have government as their partner. There's safety in it. Why take chances in a marketplace full of fickle consumers and investors, when you can get secure money and favors from the taxpayers? It's an old story, and free-market advocates as far back as Adam Smith warned against it. Unfortunately, too many people think "free market" means pro-business. It doesn't. Free market means laissez faire—prohibit force and fraud, but otherwise leave the marketplace alone. No subsidies, no privileges, no arbitrary regulations. Competition is the most effective regulator.

[On March 17, 2010 Reason's Nick Gillespie discussed government waste and redundancy on Fox Business' Stossel, which airs on Thursdays at 10pm ET. Click  to watch. Article continues below video]

Left-wingers criticize corporate welfare until it's for something they like—for example, "green technology."

"The government's going to invest in certain companies to pioneer new technologies. That, I think, is not corporate welfare," says Tamara Draut of the Progressive think-tank Demos.

I asked her if business is too dumb to pioneer without government direction.

"The private sector will only invest if they know for sure that there is a commercial marketplace."

But if everyone wants these products, that should be an incentive for greedy businesses to make them.

"Not always," she replied. "But the free market does not know anything unless we all collect our interests and say: This is of national import to us."

This is nonsense. How did Apple know we would want iPods, iPhones, and iPads? It didn't know with certainty. It took a risk with its own and investors' money.

But for some reason, other products and services are different, according to people like Obama and Draut.

"We desperately need high-speed rail in this country," she says, meaning the taxpayers must be forced to finance it.

The government gives companies billions of dollars to develop new trains. Guess who receives some of that money.

GE.

The problem is that government has no wealth of its own. All it can do is move wealth from where the market would have channeled it to where politicians want it. Who knows what would have happened if free people had the money that goes to high-speed rail? Maybe cancer would have been cured.

"The private sector isn't going to cure cancer by itself," Draut says.

Greedy drug companies aren't going to cure cancer? I asked.

"They would have by now, if they could."

People with a central planner's mentality have what F.A. Hayek called "the fatal conceit."

I'd have thought the fall of the Soviet Union would have taught us that central planning is destructive, but the conceit of the central planners lives on. Maybe the problem isn't merely economic ignorance. Maybe it's something more sinister: a wish to keep the freeloading system going. After all, if politicians and business leaders admit that government cannot play a constructive role in the economy, what grounds would there be for subsidies, shelter from competitors, and other privileges at the people's expense? The anti-free-market ideology is a vast rationalization for favoritism.

The favors, of course, go those who are best at lobbying for them, those with connections and the means to make big campaign contributions. So the government pours billions of taxpayer dollars into wind farms that are half-owned … by GE.

I bet it's a waste of money.

"Well, maybe it is," Draut says. "But it should be one thing that we, as a nation, are investing in so that we aren't left behind."

This sort of nonsense provides intellectual cover for privilege and crony capitalism.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com. And watch Stossel on Fox Business every Thursday at 10pm ET.

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  1. But [wind farm technology] should be one thing that we, as a nation, are investing in so that we aren’t left behind.

    No one wants to be left behind. During the Rapture we can use GE’s windmills to lift ourselves up to meet Christ, leaving all the sinners (i.e. fossil fuel users) on the ground to suck it.

    1. With GE running the Commerce department, shouldn’t we be buying someone else’s turbines? Halliburton wasn’t a big enough object lesson in government/megacorp love affairs?

      Oh yeah, my bad, the right people are now in charge. I thought religion was on the decline.

      1. Problem is that all of the manufacturers of turbines are attached to the teat of one government or another. (Rolls Royce is the only one I can think of. Does Dassault?)

        1. and that’s diff fm the oil & nuclear industries how?

          1. Get back to work Orrin.

            1. HAHA hi nicho! heading to NYC this weekend. Vball tourny. hope u guys r all good.

              1. Wow! Does this scream gay or what?

              2. volleyball? seriously?
                Nice short shorts, pal.

                1. What’s wrong with male volleyball and SHORT shorts? Makes me hungry.

          2. Two wrongs make a right.

            1. No, but three lefts do.

              1. No, they make a square…

          3. They are different in that they can be economically feasible without subsidies.

            Particularly petroleum. But you know that.

            Most people here don’t want them to get subsidies either. But you know that already too. Or should if you had half a brain.

            Oil gets tax breaks just like 1,000’s of other businesses. But we would like a much simpler tax code so we can’t get rid of most tax breaks which often distort the flow of capital.

            With both, but particularly nuclear, fewer regulations would decrease costs, and increase efficiency while not affecting safety. Nuclear has been hamstrung by ridiculous regulations by federal and 50 different state govt.’s for 50 years.

            Now go ahead and make the completely predictable statements about safety.

            1. “…particularly nuclear,fewer regulations would decrease costs, and increase efficiency while not affecting safety.”
              _

              dat good one stupid-san.

            2. Nuclear might be safer if there was less regulation. The more regulation, the less people innovate.

        2. Yep. Kinda makes you wonder if there’s no profitable way to make wind turbines.

    2. “But [wind farm technology] should be one thing that we, as a nation, are investing in so that we aren’t left behind.”

      We don’t want to be left behind in the race to bankruptcy, is that it?

      1. bankruptcy’s only for the little people

        1. For the rest of us, there’s always inflation to save our sorry asses.

    3. Are you RAPTURE ready???

      1. You know…just thinking here…the people left behind by the rapture might be happier with everyone else gone.

  2. If Democrats actually cared about inequality and evil corporations like they claim, you might think that they’d propose cutting corporate welfare as a response to the GOP’s proposed cuts. But no, Obama preferred to cut Pell Grants and heating oil subsidies for the poor.

    Granted, the Democrats like proposing new subsidies for favored groups to balance out the “evil” groups getting other subsidies, but they never, never propose cutting spending. The only cure is more spending on the “right” people.

    It’s as if the primary goal is a bigger government with more government control rather than addressing inequality or corporate power or subsidies.

    1. There will always be rationalizations for corporate welfare, usually some form of mercantalism or other special pleading.

      For Team Blue, the rationalizations tend towards ‘protecting/creating jobs’.

      What is never addressed is the fact that the burden of protecting those jobs falls on other workers both in terms of taxes and the jobs lost as opportunity costs.

      1. Opportunity WHAT!?

    2. Obama actually proposed eliminating the huge Oil/Gas handouts from the Bushpigs’ 2005 Energy Bill – and the GOP/Boehner blocked him.

      Stossel should have provided the amount GE receives in corporate welfare – shoddy on his part. It looks like he is just making shit up.

      Simply buying product is not corporate welfare, per se’.

      1. Obama actually proposed eliminating the huge Oil/Gas handouts from the Bushpigs’ 2005 Energy Bill

        The 2005 bill that Senator Obama voted “Aye” on and Senator McCain voted “Nay” on, just so we’re clear on that.

        If you really disliked the horribly 2005 Energy Bill– and I sure did– why wouldn’t you support the guy who voted against it instead of the guy, Obama, who voted for it?

        1. Just re-read the provisions of the bill on Wikipedia – score one for McCain.

          74-26 final vote – plenty of lard for everyone.

          1. One thing that McCain is really good on is free trade, and not just in being against tarriffs, hes against subsidies too. He always votes against the farm bills and energy bills for that reason.

            1. Good one.

        2. Why would any intelligent person vote for either???

      2. The 2005 Bill supports my point, shrike. It also demonstrated that given a choice between subsidies for every corporation and subsidies for none, the Democrats will always take subsidies for all, and hope to alter things so that the “right” people get more of the money.

        Otherwise the 2005 Energy Bill wouldn’t have been so bipartisan, with 74 Ayes in the Senate, and the opposition mixed.

        1. Yep – I am agreeing with you except that the Oil/Gas lobby got all it wanted too – mainly an exemption in the Clean Water Act for fracking.

          That was huge – and natgas is plentiful today because of it.

          1. “and natgas is plentiful today because of it.”

            This is a bad thing?

            1. Considering externalities is for losers.

      3. shrike, here’s the lefties at Media Matters defending the 2005 Energy Bill as raising taxes on oil and gas companies by more than it subsidized them. Of course, they’re defending the bill because Obama supported it and McCain opposed it, and McCain attacked him for voting for that bill and its “goodies for the oil and gas companies.”

      4. Re: shrike,

        Stossel should have provided the amount GE receives in corporate welfare – shoddy on his part.

        GE receives the Investment Tax Credit for putting up windmills, whether they spin or not. That’s corporate welfare right there.

        http://online.wsj.com/article/…..71986.html

        (Note: Requires subscription)

        Happy?

      5. Simply buying product is not corporate welfare, per se’.

        Buying a product because nobody else will sounds like welfare to me.

      6. I don’t give a crap what Obama did as a very junior senator in 2005.

        I’m wondering why Obama and the Dems aren’t stepping up to the plate right now with an “End Corporate Welfare” campaign.

        1. On the other hand, I argue that Republicans should have taken the lead on this, simply because if the Democrats didn’t join in, they could blast the Democrats for being the corporatist party who favors the wealthy, and the Democrats would have less ability to accuse the Republicans of attacking the poor if they’ve already taken all the welfare from the rich.

      7. GE received 18billion dollars when the fed bought toxic loans from GE capital.

        1. Thought I saw something on Zerohedge recently talking about JP Morgan and some other big bank buying back the toxic crap that the Fed purchased from them back in 2008-2009. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

          1. Doing both simultaneously is a healthy response, granted it’s coming from a woman…

    3. Funding cuts to parks and trails has nothing to do with the cost of maintaining the trails. It is simply government extortion to avoid having to actually cut real unneeded expenses. Anytime there is any budget shortfall the first thing a sitting group of elected officials does is cut those services that the public directly uses. Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Museums, etc. In most cases these are the least expensive part of government operations. A hiking trails maintenance costs are so minimal as to be absolutely negligible. But, by closing them it extorts people into making the choice “Well I really want my parks so I will pay more in taxes and fees” rather than the government actually cutting the wasteful spending such as crooked asphalt contracts to politicians brother-in-laws, or high paid do nothing commissions lawyers and administrators. This is the same reason that whenever voters vote down a school budget the first thing the school district does is cancel the school bus service. It maximizes the inconvenience and pain to the voters in the most direct way possible in order to get their desired result. It’s a crooked scam that we have let go on for most of the 20th century.

      1. A.k.a. the Washington Monument Effect. “Gosh, without that money we’ll have to close our most popular attraction!”

      2. …the first thing a sitting group of elected officials does is cut those services that the public directly uses. Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Museums, etc.

        And it works every time.

        Those are the times when I realize just how much I despise my fellow citizens.

      3. This comment needs to be pasted on every news article dealing with government budget cuts. Stuff like parks and recreation is relatively low-cost and is thus easy to target.

        Look what happens every single time school budget cuts are made. Who gets let go? It’s always the younger teachers and lower-ranked workers. Never mind the bucketload of assistant principals, overpaid district administrators, and teachers that have been in for 35 years and may even be double-dipping by teaching part time. It’s the rot of 20th century managerialism at its finest.

        1. aaaaahh this is exactly right!

    4. I have always thought that the left LOVES Hitler. OK, maybe not Hitler, but they strive to re-create his fascist economic model. Private property and private industry is OK, as long as that property is utilized to meet the needs of the state.

      Government handouts provide a means to control industry and ensure that they comply with the goals of the planners. If a company doesn’t take the subsidy, they lose the ability to compete with the other entities who do benefit from state bribery.

      The health care law is the perfect example of this. Why should the government nationalize the health care industry, when they can simply co-opt it. France doesn’t have a nationalized health care system, they simply regulate the industry so heavily that the line is blurred.

      Notice how the federal government appears to reward large corporations that screw up? When BP spills millions of barrels of oil into the gulf, this isn’t a challenge for the government, it is an opportunity. Why is it that BP was able to get a drilling permit in the gulf, when no one else is? Collectivists hate the banks (another similarity to Hitler), but they rewarded the very firms that they blame for the financial crisis. Again, an opportunity, because the government was able to gain greater regulation over the industry, just not the ones they blamed for the crisis.

      1. Hmm well:
        Firstly if you replace “society” for “the state” the perspective is different.
        Secondly, the government “rewards” corporations and banks because they have it by the balls. Either through the threat of economic meltdown or because lobbying and political donations can bring politicians and their parties down.
        And just a thought to ponder… the environmental degradation caused by the shallow water oil industry off Louisiana every 10 days is equal to the total damage from the BP deep water disaster… and it’s continuing right now.

      2. I’ve been thinking similar things for some time now.

  3. Like the War on Drugs, once Democrats got on board with corporate welfare, and now have taken the lead on it, ending it is going to be harder than ever.

  4. OK that actually makes sesne.

    real-privacy.it.tc

  5. Stossel is right that corporate welfare absolutely dwarfs social spending. What’s odd, though, is that he illustrates his point with renewable energy and high-speed rail, which receive a miniscule amount of money compared to military contractors, Wall Street, big banks, and oil companies.

    1. Instead of social spending, “poor people spending” would have been a better choice of words.

      1. not necessarily, plenty of SS recipients are wealthy.

        1. Yes, but social spending to the middle class dwarfs poor people spending and corporate welfare.

    2. Oil companies don’t receive that much money compared to renewable energy. All the studies that have attempted to claim otherwise rely heavily on the federal treatment of foreign royalties to extract oil, minerals, and other natural resources from foreign-government owned land as a tax thus deductible against federal corporate income tax.

      But since:
      1) the US tax system is really silly in taxing activity taking place outside its own country, unlike everybody else,
      2) the absence of such a law would just cause corporations with overseas activities to change their HQ and pay much less US tax anyway,
      3) government-imposed royalties for extracting from government land really are the same thing as government taxes on extraction, it’s silly to have dramatically different US tax treatment of the same foreign charges based on semantics, and
      4) it’s a non-discriminatory part of the tax code instead of receiving money directed by the government to certain companies,

      I think it’s not at all the same thing as direct grants.

    3. Stossel is right that corporate welfare absolutely dwarfs social spending.

      What horseshit. SocSec, Medicare, and Medicaid combined are the biggest single chunk of spending there is. And that doesn’t count all the other “social(ist) spending.”

      1. The Top 5, repeated again for our pleasure:

        1) Social Security
        2) DoD
        3) Medicare
        4) Unemployment
        5) Medicaid

        All together, those take up about 80% of federal spending, and the “social spending” takes up all actual revenues. Yeah, we spend a ton on DoD contracts to a few connected defense firms. But it isn’t even close to what we spend on socialist welfare programs.

        1. Social Security isn’t connected to taxes.

        2. In economics, revenue forgone is the same as revenue spent.

  6. “But it should be one thing that we, as a nation, are investing in so that we aren’t left behind.”

    What’s this “we” shit? Is this another one of those shitheads who thinks that everybody’s earnings are a “national resource”?

    1. everybody’s earnings are a “national resource”

      That’s why “we” are the wealthiest nation.

  7. Why does business need government to [hawk their products overseas]?

    Maybe because other governments are doing the same–without the impediment of a curiously strong antigovernment sentiment in those places.

    If laissez-faire competition has the best outcomes and produces the most prosperity, shouldn’t we have little to worry about from more command-and-control economies?

    Of course, in typical reason fashion, Stossel fixates on green tech subsidies without even mentioning those for non-green energy industries. Of course the market doesn’t express comparative demand for green tech: a 100 years of infrastructure and direct subsidies favors their direct competitors, who don’t have to pay for the damage they cause to the environment, to boot!

    If you can’t tell the difference between an iphone and a cure for cancer, there is little wonder you don’t appreciate the limits of the market. Just hypothetically, what is the market incentive for curing cancer vs. keeping people on proprietary pills the rest of their life? If a drug company did discover a cure for cancer, should they be able to patent it and restrict access to it? That could be one market incentive for curing cancer–the ability to restrict its distribution in favor of more lucrative options.

    1. Just hypothetically, what is the market incentive for curing cancer vs. keeping people on proprietary pills the rest of their life?

      The ability to charge different prices for the two services, the fact that the treatments may cost different amounts to produce and provide, and the effect of competition.

      Next you’ll be talking about 200 MPG carburetors and no-run stockings, along with other technologies that companies supposedly suppress. The same market incentive exists for any form of technological improvement.

      1. Just hypothetically, what is the market incentive for curing cancer vs. keeping people on proprietary pills the rest of their life?

        Why do you think the Government sprays those chemtrails?

      2. There are tires out there that never wear out, man. I’ve seen ’em! Goodyear bought the patent and mothballed the whole thing, even gouging out the eyes of the people that designed them so they couldn’t do it again.

        1. I don’t know about tires, but I’m pretty sure companies that sell light bulbs would have been perfectly happy selling 100-year old technology for the indefinite future.

          1. Isn’t it consumers that were happy buying the bulbs? If alternatives are so beneficial, a company willing to sell them would enter the market.

          2. I’ll be happily using that charming, cozy technology for the indefinite future. I probably never have to buy standard size light bulbs again, and it cost me almost nothing.

          3. Tony|3.24.11 @ 1:28PM|#
            “I don’t know about tires, but I’m pretty sure companies that sell light bulbs would have been perfectly happy selling 100-year old technology for the indefinite future.”

            Naturally, you’re full of shit; light bulb tech has changed drastically. But since that doesn’t fit with the rest of your lies, why, who cares? Right, asshole?

            1. Drastically? Come on. I’m talking about the things that are about to be phased out. Ancient technology. Light bulb sellers had no big incentive to sell similarly priced bulbs that didn’t burn out so quickly. They really had to be forced to innovate.

              1. Umm… No, they innovated all by themselves, Tony.

                What had to be forced wasn’t the companies, but the consumers. People get CFLs and LED lights and all the other options all the time, but they are more expensive and most people don’t find the lighting as comfortable.

                And of course, for people who work in photography or film/video, those lights all suck tremendously for most subjects.

    2. Just hypothetically, Tony, what is the market incentive for “finding a polio vaccine” rather than “selling/leasing iron lungs to patients for life?”

      1. I don’t know, since research into the polio vaccine took place at a public university with the cooperation of 20,000 physicians and public health officers, 64,000 school personnel, 220,000 volunteers, and more than 1,800,000 school children, all funded by an organization established by none other than Franklin D. Rooselvelt. The near-eradication of polio resulted from the distribution of the vaccine by the United Nations.

        Where does the for-profit sector come in, again? And can you plausibly claim that a for-profit drug company would go to all this trouble?

        1. They would if the vaccine would eliminate wrinkles on wealthy old ladies or erectile dysfunction in retiring upper middle class baby boomers.

          1. You can’t forget that the government intentionally makes it very difficult to profit from vaccines, because they’re important.

            In addition, you’re making the fundamental logical error of confusing what’s advertised with what’s produced. Drug companies don’t bother to advertise the (still very expensive and profitable) cancer and AIDS drugs, because people who need them, find out about them and get them. What they do advertise are drugs for conditions that are:
            1) Not life-threatening
            2) That people might just live with
            3) That people might not know can be treated or are abnormal conditions.

            In other words, they advertise things whose sales might be improved by advertising.

            If you ever travel to Canada or the UK, you’ll be amazed by all the large adverts for cheap (cheaper than the US) laser eye surgery and suchlike. They’re not covered by the NHS or Canadian Medicare, so they’re cheap. Just like how cosmetic surgery in the US is the one area of surgery with much lower cost growth over the years.

        2. since research into the polio vaccine took place at a public university with the cooperation of 20,000 physicians and public health officers, 64,000 school personnel, 220,000 volunteers, and more than 1,800,000 school children, all funded by an organization established by none other than Franklin D. Rooselvelt

          These days, of course, the government would never try to actually cure polio, since the government unions would complain about putting all those people in those government jobs you’ve just mentioned out of work.

          I’m sure you two give just as much credence to the idea that anti-poverty social workers for the government don’t actually want to end poverty either, but would rather sell cheap band-aids.

          The same sort of bad incentives affect both government employees and businesses.

          In the free market, we rely on competition a lot to address those ills.

          In the government, we try to rely on taxpayers and voters to restrain the government employees that care mostly about their pay, benefits, and the size of their budgets and fiefdoms.

          Thanks, Tony and MNG, for making such an excellent argument why collective bargaining among government employees is such a bad thing!

          1. I’ll have what you’re smoking.

            1. He’s smoking REALITY, douche. According to you, man should have never progressed past the rotary phone. “It’ll just cut into our margins! Let’s suppress all those technologies!” Yeah, that really worked out. I think your tinfoil hat slipped off…

        3. I’d hate to be one of those “volunteer” children.

          1. I don’t know this, but it makes sense that most of them already had polio. Many would be willing to take the risk to get rid of it.

        4. You’re describing the field trials for the vaccine utilizing a completely willing public, one that had itself donated millions to polio research.

          There was also commercial research in a polio vaccine, producing a polio vaccine in 1950.

      2. I see Tony’s point here. If polio is cured then makers of expensive iron lungs would be in bad shape. It would cost a lot to make a vaccine and then people would get it once and never have to buy a related product. The market provides a much larger incentive to produce expensive band aids than an inexpensive preventative.

        1. The market also allows people to sell preventatives for different prices. And again, if you believe this, you should believe in the no-run stockings and the mythical high mileage carburetor, and the tires that never puncture, and that CPU speeds are intentionally held down, and so forth.

          But in any case, don’t government workers have the same incentives to keep their jobs and budgets by not actually solving the problem? In government, failing to solve the problem means your job is safe and your budget gets larger.

          Perhaps things are different when voters and taxpayers are truly in charge, but that’s simply an argument for weakening the collective bargaining power of government employees.

          1. Hopefully competent directors of such government programs would pay attention to the outcomes. I suppose your hazard is theoretically possible, but at least government can direct resources in the direction of goals other than increasing the quarterly bottom line–which I think anyone with any sense would say isn’t adequate to motivate everything the world needs.

            1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 1:22PM|#
              “Hopefully competent directors of such government programs would pay attention to the outcomes.”

              How may ponies did Sandy Claus bring you, little boy?

            2. Capitalism doesn’t automatically make everyone into assholes. You can still have the March of Dimes in a free market. Why do you always assume the worst of people?

              1. Projection? That would be my guess.

              2. You can also have government. In fact, you always will.

                1. You can also have government. In fact, you always will.

                  ________

                  Parasites are notoriously hard to eradicate.

        2. Re: MNG,

          The market provides a much larger incentive to produce expensive band aids than an inexpensive preventative.

          Yeah, that explains condoms…

          Idiot.

        3. MNG|3.24.11 @ 1:07PM|#
          “…. The market provides a much larger incentive to produce expensive band aids than an inexpensive preventative….

          A bit of an ignoramus about the market, are we?
          MNG, go ahead and set up your business; I’ll short it the minute you sell stock.

        4. The market provides a much larger incentive to produce expensive band aids than an inexpensive preventative.

          What is this, Economic Illiteracy Day?

          The market provides incentives to do both. Company A may pursue the expensive bandaid approach, but that will prove shortsighted when Company B pursues the inexpensive preventative approach and sells its cheaper better solution to everyone.

          1. Everyday is Economic Illiteracy Day all over the country. A tiny minority of americans understand anything at all about how the market works, hence the laws we live under today.

            Tony is not actually that far off from the middle. Most people think like him. Although I do live in califronia so there’s that..

        5. In a free market, there would be nothing to stop a competitor from coming up with a vaccine to prevent people from needing your iron lungs.

        6. The economics of that would seem unlikely, although I understand how someone might arrive at that position. And it’s wrong largely for the same issues that generally upset the concept of cartelization in the real world. If there was no competition at all for product X because of, say, a natural monopoly, then you might have a point.

          But this doesn’t make any sense precisely because, although any individual company might have such an incentive, they’re also in competition. If Pfizer had a natural monopoly on drug-research and production, then yes – they would certainly be in the position to dictate such terms. But thinking that all other competing companies (both old and new) are going to by-pass windfall profits in the short term (which would inevitably come from completely snatching the market-share away from the plethora of groups that provide/sell cancer treatments) in exchange for some vaguely implicit assumption that all current and new competitors will do the same – well that’s just kind of silly. Even if we were to overlook the obscene short-run profits one would have to overlook, surely we could imagine that an up-and-coming research group would love to absolutely crush their competition who may be very heavily invested in such treatments. Doing so could both open the door to dominance in tangential medicine markets as well as draw an awful lot of new private investment.

          Now, it’s certainly the case that people will buy something cheap that doesn’t last long (as is their preference often), but assuming your line of thought begs the question here – why don’t we have a market of items, from hammers to TVs, that don’t simply disintegrate in a month? After all, it’s certainly in their best interest to keep us coming back and buying more product, right?

    3. I love Tony! He always swallows!

    4. If laissez-faire competition has the best outcomes and produces the most prosperity, shouldn’t we have little to worry about from more command-and-control economies?

      Under normal circumstances, we have almost nothing to worry about from command-and-control economies.

    5. Re: Tony,

      If laissez-faire competition has the best outcomes and produces the most prosperity, shouldn’t we have little to worry about from more command-and-control economies?

      Actually, there IS little to worry about more command-and-control economies. Most of the government-controlled British companies which produced almost everything folded quickly under the pressure of imported electronics and American vehicles.

      Stossel fixates on green tech subsidies without even mentioning those for non-green energy industries.

      He has done that many times. You’re again showcasing your ignorance.

      Of course the market doesn’t express comparative demand for green tech: a 100 years of infrastructure and direct subsidies favors their direct competitors

      You’re rehashing shrike’s dubious arguments. The transition from whale oil to kerosene/petroleum derivatives was quick and painless, despite the BIG infrastructure for whale oil harvesting and distribution, no need for subsidies or justifications for government intervention.

      If you can’t tell the difference between an iphone and a cure for cancer, there is little wonder you don’t appreciate the limits of the market.

      Well, first of all, that’s a non sequitur. The fact that people value iPods more than a cure for cancer does not mean the market fails to provide cures for cancer. It would be as if one said the lack of jetpacks shows the inability for the market to provide jetpacks.

      If a drug company did discover a cure for cancer, should they be able to patent it and restrict access to it?

      Are you advocating for the repeal of IP laws? Welcome to my club – we have jackets.

      1. “Welcome to my club – we have jackets.”

        I guess any club can copy your club’s jacket desing 🙂

        1. Re: MNG,

          I guess any club can copy your club’s jacket design

          Sure, it increases exposure. Instead, IP laws stifles it.

      2. Really? Where can I purchase said jacket? We may disagree about the particulars of 8th – 13th century muslim Spanish culture, but I’ve been beating the anti-IP drum a long time, and am always delighted when another intelligent person is “down” with the cause.

      3. I don’t think Tony’s ready to give up his straightjacket.

    6. Which command and control economy is doing better than a free market one?

      1. Since there are no “free market” economies, all of them. Maybe they just couldn’t compete?

        1. Oouch, that hadda hurt!

        2. Re: Tony,

          Since there are no “free market” economies, all of them.

          I believe you’re confusing “free market” with “no government at all.”

          Many markets are totally free even with the presence of government.

          1. OK name one.

            1. The local farmers market. Totally free market, no fancy labels, direct exchange of goods.

            2. E-Bay.

            3. Amazon market

            4. Flea markets.

            5. Boston Market.

          2. I believe you’re confusing “free market” with “no government at all.”

            I must quote Bastiat:

            Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

            We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

            1. You’re for all those things but you don’t propose a means to achieving them, and to some, that’s tantamount to not caring about them.

              1. How is it that we have food in the stores without government bureaucrats writing policy telling farmers what to raise, when to raise it, and how much to raise?

                Nobody has proposed a means of achieving the goal of having food on the shelf, yet it is there.

                How can it be?

                1. How is it that we have food in the stores without government bureaucrats writing policy telling farmers what to raise, when to raise it, and how much to raise?

                  Defenders of agricultural subsidies would dispute your premise. If corn weren’t so artificially cheap, would there be as much cheap corn products for people to consume?

                  I’m not convinced that ending these subsidies would result in mass starvation, and there are many good reasons to end them (not least because most of our diet consists of corn products and it’s not good for us).

                  In addition, there is a level of inadequate access to food, let alone healthy food, in this country. That’s partially taken care of by more food subsidies in the form of food stamps.

                  But leaving all that aside, even if the market does succeed in providing one basic need doesn’t mean it will do so for all of them or at acceptable levels. I’ve never said the market is a massive fail and it should be done away with, just that it’s not adequate to provide everything people need and want.

                  1. Tony – AG subsidies do not keep food artificially cheap. Their purpose is to keep prices artificially high. AG subsidies amount to the government paying farmers not to farm, which lowers supply, which increases the price. Ethanol subsidies and mandates further decrease the supply of corn by diverting it into ethanol production, further increasing the price. Since corn is used as animal feed this increases the price of meat.

                    The result of these government subsidies and mandates is more expensive food for everyone, including poor people.

                    Great, huh?

                  2. A lot of farm subsidies and food tariffs are designed to keep food prices high.

                  3. I’ve never said the market is a massive fail and it should be done away with, just that it’s not adequate to provide everything people need and want.

                    If people need and want something they will voluntarily part with their hard earned money in exchange for it.
                    If people do not need and want something then they will not part with their hard earned money in exchange for it.
                    Things people pay for voluntarily turn a profit. That is how a producer knows that they have a good idea. They turn a profit. That is how they know that they have pleased the consumer. They turned a profit.

                    In the free market the only way to turn a profit is to please consumers. So profit seeking is the same as seeking to please people.

                    Seeking to please people is a bad thing?

                  4. “”If corn weren’t so artificially cheap,””

                    That’s funny.

                  5. “Defenders of agricultural subsidies would dispute your premise. If corn weren’t so artificially cheap, would there be as much cheap corn products for people to consume?”

                    Tony,

                    Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, take a quick whirl through Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. I’m not making that suggestion to be snarky – but you’re going to be brutalized here if you keep saying some of the more marginal things you say economically.

              2. We do propose a means…customers providing businessmen money in exchange for creating / providing these things.

                I think the disconnect is, we believe that if nobody is willing to pay for something, then that thing is not worth creating / doing. You seem to believe, through some kind of logic which I still fail to follow, that somehow there are products / services which no one would voluntarily pay for, but which are still necessary. I say, that if no one is willing to pay for it, then by definition it is not necessary.

                1. You seem to believe, through some kind of logic which I still fail to follow, that somehow there are products / services which no one would voluntarily pay for, but which are still necessary.

                  Not exactly. These things do get paid for. Just sometimes they get paid for by nonprofits or governments. My issue is the idea that the for-profit sector will somehow generate all that is needed for a society–even basic infrastructure needed to make that sector function in the first place.

                  Especially today when the for-profit sector has shed all pretense of benefiting society and works only to secure quarterly profits, I think it’s absurd to think this motivation alone will make a society anyone wants to live in. See my polio post above. If we relied on the for-profit sector, it seems guaranteed that polio would never have been eradicated. Maybe that’s not a good thing to you because it’s not profit-generating, but I think most people think it is a good thing regardless.

                  1. If we relied on the for-profit sector, it seems guaranteed that polio would never have been eradicated.

                    Bullshit. The guy who comes up with the cure for cancer will become very very rich. The people who treat cancer will lose out. Tough shit for them. But the guy who cures it will make profits hand over fist.
                    That is the incentive: Profit. And it works.

                    That is the beauty of profits. They sort out the good ideas from the bad. The good ones, the ones people are willing to part with their hard earned money for, turn a profit. The ideas nobody wants to spend money on do not and fade away.

                    1. “That is the beauty of profits. They sort out the good ideas from the bad. The good ones, the ones people are willing to part with their hard earned money for, turn a profit.”

                      The great thing about capitalism is that if you can find a way to make rich people richer you might make a few bucks yourself!

                    2. The great thing about capitalism is that if you can find a way to make rich people richer you might make a few bucks yourself!

                      Almost, but not quite.
                      The great thing about capitalism is if you allow people to get rich then all of society gets rich.

                      By allowing Bill Gates to get rich, all of society is richer thanks to Microsoft’s products.

                      For every accumulation of wealth as a result of market activity there is an equal amount of wealth spread out in society.

                      Accumulations of wealth through conquest, coercion, rent seeking, or some other non-market activity do not benefit society. They drain society.

                      Progressives only understand force. So they do not understand the multiplier effect of allowing people to accumulate wealth in the free market.

                    3. MNG|3.24.11 @ 2:24PM|#
                      “…The great thing about capitalism is that if you can find a way to make rich people richer you might make a few bucks yourself!”

                      Yeah, like Brin and Page, right?

                    4. Bullshit. The guy who comes up with the cure for cancer will become very very rich.

                      Just as “there are no atheists in foxholes,” the Tony believes that there are no humanitarians in markets.

                      I’m going to laugh my ass off if the cure comes about as a result of money from either the Gates Foundation of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

                    5. …Foundation or Howard…

                    6. I’m going to laugh my ass off if the cure comes about as a result of money from either the Gates Foundation of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

                      Huh? That would certainly not be coming from the for-profit sector.

                  2. Non-profits can still exist in a free market. Wouldn’t it be better at least to see if people can get by without being forced to do the right thing?

                    1. Non-profits can still exist in a free market. Wouldn’t it be better at least to see if people can get by without being forced to do the right thing?

                      Okay but then we’re not talking about the great creative and problem-solving power of the market system, we’re talking about charity. Large foundations like these, I think, will play an increasing role in mobilizing resources for certain big projects. That’s great. But the people don’t get to vote on where those resources are directed, so they may not be adequate for what they need.

                    2. ” But the people don’t get to vote on where those resources are directed, so they may not be adequate for what they need.”

                      Sure they do – you choose which products you pay for, don’t you? If I know some company or head thereof contributes to cause A, I can cast my “vote” with my wallet. And you know what makes that even better than the way democracy really works in some ways? If I want to give money to a company that supports cancer research instead of feeding the homeless, the next guy who cares more about feeding the homeless can still buy from a company that does that instead – we both get what we voted for. It’s almost as if bringing a monopoly on power into the realm of charity via republics/democracies isn’t quite as democratic as we’d like to think.

                      It’s worth quoting David Friedman here:

                      “When you elect a politician, you buy nothing but promises. You may know how one politician ran the country for the
                      past four years, but not how his competitor might have run it. You can compare 1968 Fords, Chryslers, and
                      Volkswagens, but nobody will ever be able to compare the Nixon administration of 1968 with the Humphrey and Wallace administrations of the same year. It is as if we had only Fords from 1920 to 1928, Chryslers from 1928 to 1936, and then had to decide what firm would make a better car for the next four years. Perhaps an expert automotive engineer could make an educated guess as to whether Ford had used the technology of 1920 to satisfy the demands of 1920 better than Chrysler had used the technology of 1928 to satisfy the demands of 1928. The rest of us might just as well flip a coin. If you throw in Volkswagen or American Motors, which had not made any cars in America but wanted to, the situation becomes still worse. Each of us would have to know every firm intimately in order to have any reasonable basis for deciding which we preferred.

                      […]

                      Imagine buying cars the way we buy governments. Ten thousand people would get together and agree to vote, each for the car he preferred. Whichever car won, each of the ten thousand would have to buy it. It would not pay any of us to make any serious effort to find out which car was best; whatever I decide, my car is being picked for me by the other members of the group. Under such institutions, the quality of cars would quickly decline. That is how I must buy products on the political marketplace. I not only cannot compare the alternative products, it would not be worth my while to do so even if I could. This may have something to do with the quality of the goods sold on that market. Caveat emptor.”

                    3. While I agree with the gist of your argument, the analogy you use is better suited for a criticism of winner-take-all voting systems instead of pluralities.

                    4. Actually I think it’s even more applicable…as that axiomatically implies that even a smaller percentage of the general populace sees their political goals to fruition. Whether it’s 99% or 1% who decides, the other portion of the country simply loses – it’s “winner-take-all” no matter what percentage of favor the “winner” garners.

                  3. “We do propose a means…customers providing businessmen money in exchange for creating / providing these things.”

                    What about people who need things that have no money to give to businesspersons to provide them?

                    I’m actually a big proponent of markets, but markets simply are not good at achieving something like universal coverage, education, police protection. When you want to provide something of fairly equal quality to everyone regardless of ability to pay (which is not the same as need of course) markets just are not made for that.

                    1. I’m actually a big proponent of markets, but markets simply are not good at achieving something like universal coverage, education, police protection.

                      Neither are governments.

                      I’m not sold on the importance of universal health insurance or education in the first place — there are some individuals who have other priorities. Police patrols are a different matter because they inherently work on a territorial basis rather than an individual customer basis.

                    2. “I’m actually a big proponent of markets, but markets simply are not good at achieving something like universal coverage, education, police protection.”

                      These seem like particularly bad examples, when A) insurance (real free market insurance, not the current government/insurance cartel) provides “universal coverage”; B) private schools regularly outperform public schools both in absolute metrics and per-dollar performance, C) private police outnumber public police 5:1 in the US, and depending on how one defines that, it might be much, much higher than that (ebay, for example, employs 3000 people in fraud detection/prevention. Why, when the government is supposedly here to prevent us from such crimes?)

                    3. that’s what charity is for. (or welfare if you prefer). GIve them the money to buy the things you think they need but for gods sake, don’t have government actually get in the business of trying to make and provide that actual things and services.

                    4. “What about people who need things that have no money to give to businesspersons to provide them?”

                      I know my view is marginal on this, but I always thought this line of thought was silly. In order to enact such “forced” charity you have to have a reasonable plurality or even majority to put people into positions to push it through (generally speaking). If you already have a reasonable plurality or majority in support of these charitable ends, then why do you need the government to get involved (that’s not a rhetorical question)? Three possibilities come to mind:

                      1) If only those in poverty support such action – and, of course, if this were the case then democratic action certainly wouldn’t help.

                      2) If this majority or plurality consisted of mostly the poor anyways – given the general economic breakdown between Republicans and Democrats, I don’t think we can say that Republicans have a monopoly on wealth.

                      3) There is no “need” for government to impose charity, but those who wish to contribute to good causes want to spread their personal liabilities to people who don’t support their causes.

                      Options one and two seem fairly silly to me as they both ring untrue to me pretty plainly. The third sounds more plausible – I’ve definitely heard the “How can we be expected to give if other people aren’t forced to give too” line. I really hope it’s not this though.

                      I’m willing to entertain notions that aren’t encompassed by the three propositions already listed though.

                  4. “Especially today when the for-profit sector has shed all pretense of benefiting society and works only to secure quarterly profits”

                    Do you have any idea how much money corporations donate to worthy causes via their foundations EVERY YEAR?? It’s billions you stupid assfucker.

                    1. They give a lot but they give a lot to help their bottom line, in fact if they acknowledged otherwise they would be in violation of their fiduciary duties to their holders.

                      I don’t expect corporations to aim to benefit society in general. They are not created to do that, they are money generating machines. They should not be condemned for acting otherwise, that is their function. It is though of course why I think their influence in things like our polity should be limited.

                    2. Here’s the deal, you moron, I am in senior management of a multi-billion dollar corporation and network globally with same, and for you to come on here and say “I don’t expect corporations to aim to benefit society in general” then my response to you is that clearly, we corporations are exceeding your expectations.

                    3. “they are money generating machines”

                      You are confusing the Federal Reserve, which is a money generating machine, with corporations, which are profit-generating machines.

                    4. Actually, the Fed does both. Who pays Bernanke’s salary?

                    5. I don’t expect corporations to aim to benefit society in general. They are not created to do that, they are money generating machines.

                      The point of a free market system is that they don’t have to AIM to benefit society in order to actually have that effect. In the course of generating money creating wealth they benefit society.

                      If it hadn’t been for corporate greed during the past century, we wouldn’t have a health care expense problem because none of these expensive medical technologies and drugs would even exist. It is much cheaper to call a priest and a cemetery director than to call an oncologist when you’re diagnosed with cancer, I’ll grant that.

                  5. “Not exactly. These things do get paid for. Just sometimes they get paid for by nonprofits or governments. My issue is the idea that the for-profit sector will somehow generate all that is needed for a society–even basic infrastructure needed to make that sector function in the first place.”

                    I’m curious – is your contention that some of these things are “public goods” issues (ie: free-rider issues), that people are too stupid to pay for something they really want but aren’t aware of, or more generally that the poor won’t have access to product X, Y, and Z?

                  6. “Especially today when the for-profit sector has shed all pretense of benefiting society and works only to secure quarterly profits, I think it’s absurd to think this motivation alone will make a society anyone wants to live in.”

                    Oh, and by the way, read much Adam Smith lately? =)

              3. Tony|3.24.11 @ 1:26PM|#
                “You’re for all those things but you don’t propose a means to achieving them,…”

                Wrong. Ignoring assholes like you is one way to get there.

              4. Read to article idiot, ending susidies for industries would be an incredible start.

              5. Why should I propose a means to achieve them? I assume people who really want those things can figure it the fuck out without somebody else telling them how to do it. There’s millions of smart people out there, so statistically some of them must share your peculiar obsessions. Go ask one of them how to deliver the products and services you find so compelling you’d force the rest of us to provide them for you.

              6. Re: Tony,

                You’re for all those things but you don’t propose a means to achieving them[…]

                Idiot: You just made Bastiat’s point.

                1. Reminds me of a story I once heard Friedman tell about some representatives of an African nation who took a trip here to study our economic success. Upon seeing our wealth and number of quality goods they asked “what do you do to make this happen?” They simply could not grasp the answer: “nothing.”

              7. “You’re for all those things but you don’t propose a means to achieving them”

                Then I will:

                Honest, hard work.

        3. Divide by zero error.

        4. The better question is this – name an example of a country whose dominant economic force is NOT free markets that is better off than a country that operates mostly under free markets, while maintaining government for the basic purpose of preventing coercion and upholding contract.

        5. Wow, a reverse No True Scotsman fallacy.

          While you are correct that there are no perfectly free market economies in the world, there are certainly some that are more free than others. For instance, compare Singapore to Cuba.

    7. Basic physics and chemistry prevent green tech from being competitive with fossil fuels. No amount of government subsidies in either direction is going to change that.

      1. I don’t know about physics and chemistry much, but surely decades of years of government favoring the infrastructure of fossil fuels has something to do with the difficulty of green tech to compete. Sometimes when you wind up a toy long enough it can go really, really far even after you let it go…

        1. I don’t know about physics and chemistry much, but surely decades of years of government favoring the infrastructure of fossil fuels has something to do with the difficulty of green tech to compete.

          You’re half right.

        2. I don’t know about physics and chemistry much, but surely decades of years of government favoring the infrastructure of fossil fuels has something to do with the difficulty of green tech to compete.

          Actually, it has more to do with energy density and power density. Perhaps you should learn more about physics and chemistry before you say such things.

          1. Energy density isn’t the only consideration. The laws of supply and demand still apply. This is where MNG has a point. If the infrastructure is overwhelmingly tilted towards technology that relies on fossil fuels, that’s going to enhance demand for fossil fuels.

            But, that supports Stossel’s point. If the government’s past support for fossil-fuel dependent technology has distorted the market, then you’re not going to fix the problem by trying to distort it again.

            1. I didn’t say it was the only reason, I said it has more to do with energy and power densities.

              The laws of supply and demand always apply. The issue is that government is providing subsidies to spur demand by making green more attractive.

    8. “Of course the market doesn’t express comparative demand for green tech: a 100 years of infrastructure and direct subsidies favors their direct competitors, who don’t have to pay for the damage they cause to the environment, to boot!”

      You usually contribute nothing worthwhile to the debate at all, but this was a fantastic point with which I am 100% in agreement.

      1. How did plastics become competitive in clothing then?

        1. Federally subsidized plastic plants moving from military to civilian production post-WWII?

          1. Hobo Chang Ba|3.24.11 @ 3:27PM|#
            “Federally subsidized plastic plants moving from military to civilian production post-WWII?”

            You should *REALLY* read some history before you embarrass yourself. Again.

            1. You should REALLY back up your claims with links. Here‘s mine, from “A History of Plastic” by Jeffrey Miekle, professor of material culture at the University of Texas. Got a better one?

    9. If I find a cure for cancer, not only do I profit, I potentially put a serious dent in the bottom line of my cancer-drug-peddling competitors.
      So fuck ya I’m going to bring my cure to market.
      Might I do so under the guise of The Cancer Treatment Centre of Podunk, Ky. Sure. Just because you live in Rhode Island doesn’t mean you have the gawd-given right to access health care at your own doorstep.

  8. The failure of Obama and the Dems, and perhaps the “Left” in general, to offer liberal ideas on cutting government in these austure times is imo an incredible failing. It reduces liberalism to the caricature of taxing and spending for the sake of taxing and spending. Major defense cuts, legalization of gambling, drugs, etc., (with accompanying cuts in law enforcement budgets, means testing certain benefit programs and taxation) most of all cutting corporate subsidies (lefties acknowledge the role of subsidies in distorting our food products and then totally miss that we should eliminate them) should be put at the forefront. It’s an almost criminal failure to lead imo.

    1. Obama is only going along with deficit hysteria because he doesn’t want the conversation to get away from him (say the Republicans succeed in making the people think the budget crisis is the most important thing, and Obama is doing nothing about it). But they’re still Keynesians when it comes to their approach to economic tepidness.

      You’re right though, I don’t get what motivated the choices they made in their proposed cuts when there are so many out there that could both outmatch Republican cuts and do so without burdening anyone.

      1. “Obama is only going along with deficit hysteria ”

        I don’t think it’s a hysteria. If anything the dangers are downplayed.

        None of the cuts are really meaningful on either side.

        Miliary, SS and Medicare will all have to be trimmed. And most likely taxes will go up.

      2. Re: Tony,

        Obama is only going along with deficit hysteria

        Up is down.

      3. You’re right though, I don’t get what motivated the choices they made in their proposed cuts when there are so many out there that could both outmatch Republican cuts and do so without burdening anyone.

        Obama is incinerating desperately poor children. I really doubt he cares if he’s “burdening” anyone.

    2. It reduces liberalism to the caricature of taxing and spending for the sake of taxing and spending.

      Well duh!

      The purpose of taxation is not to raise revenue, it is to keep people from getting rich. And we all know that the rich do not pay their fair share by virtue of the fact that they exist, therefor we always need more taxes.

      The purpose of spending is pay for things that, without government, would not exits. Schools for example. Before the Department of Education there were no schools in this country. Nobody knew how to read or do basic math. Thanks to the government spending money on education Americans can finally read.

      1. *exist*

      2. Actually a far larger number of people have access to education at every level since government has offered it. So fail there.

        1. You mean there was education before the government offered it?
          My understanding was that before government got involved there was no education. None at all. And without government there would be no education. None at all.

          If government doesn’t do it nobody will.

          1. Of course there was education, but with much less access to it. It seems to me that what government is tailor made for is providing access to services to people who normally would not have access to them.

            1. “It seems to me that what government is tailor made for is providing access to services to people who normally would not have access to them.”

              Actually, in the case of our government, originally, the general notion was to provide products and services which presented classical public good(s) problems. Education does not have such issues (as far as I know). At some point people, however, felt that charity was the purview of government unfortunately.

              1. To be more clear, the reason that makes roads and provides for courts and police is that everyone generally benefits from them and it’s hard to overcome the free-rider problem (or at least that’s the idea). They weren’t pushing to provide public roads because there were people who wouldn’t be able to afford them.

            2. If the problem is that some people would not have access to education, then the solution is for the money to be provided to those individuals so that they do have access. Whether that is through government-enforced transfers of wealth, private charity, or some other method is another discussion.

              I don’t, however, see how the solution to the lack of access problem is for government to run the education system.

        2. MNG – I missed the part where it’s my problem that some people didn’t have as much access to education as some others did. Remember, I am NOT interested in equality or social justice at the point of a gun. If someone can’t afford something, then that person does not get it. Nobody “deserves” something they can’t afford (negative rights are free; you have the right not to be murdered, or aggressed against).

          I am NOT speaking for anyone other than myself, but I do NOT care if someone doesn’t have access to education, or cancer treatments. Not my problem. I will donate some to charities to feed the homeless, but that’s about it. You have to convince me that making sure somebody else, somewhere, having access to something they might not otherwise have, is a compelling enough interest to rob me through taxation to provide for 1) not only that service, but 2) the raft of bureaucrats needed to support that particular gov’t agency.

          1. well said

          2. Without public education there is no fairness to the market. You’re saying the children of poor parents are SOL when it comes to being disadvantaged in commerce and you’re OK with that. You are advocating an essentially darwinian system and basing it on a moral premise! This is in no way rational, it’s a complete lack of moral understanding.

            1. I hate to break it to you son, but life ain’t fair. Never has been. Never will be.

              Anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.

              1. Like libertarians trying to sell me free market fundamentalism based on the premise that it’s the fairest system imaginable.

              2. Like libertarians trying to sell me free market fundamentalism based on the premise that it’s the fairest system imaginable.

                1. Fair != just

                  Libertarians believe in justice.
                  Justice as in an absence of injustice.
                  Injustice being the use of force and/or fraud.

                  Someone accumulating more wealth than someone else through voluntary interaction with others is not injustice.
                  There is wealth inequality, but not injustice.

                  Someone accumulating wealth by conquest, threats, coercion, deception, or some other use of force and/or fraud is an injustice.
                  Not because of the accumulated wealth, but because of the use of force and/or fraud.

                  Social justice is a perversion of the meaning of justice in an attempt to confuse justice with fairness.

                  Someone who sees wealth inequality may whine and cry about how it is so unfair, and beg someone to right this wrong.

                  Libertarians do not see it as a wrong.

                  We see it as life.

                  And like Dad said: life ain’t fair.

            2. Lack of your moral understanding, perhaps. In my moral understanding, it is wrong to rob somebody for any reason.

              Look, nobody is saying they WANT poor people to starve to death, which is the false premise liberals put onto libertarians. What I am saying, is that, given two conflicting items (assisting some through various transfer payment schemes such as medicaid, welfare, etc, v. the freedom not to be robbed), I choose the latter. And it’s based on a very rational examination of the problems of transfer payment schemes, i.e. bureaucrats needing to be paid out of the taxes collected, and the inevitable mission creep and redundancy which develops, not to mention the power which it allows the gov’t to assume to pick winners & losers.

              Remember, nobody here is claiming that libertarianism leads to utopia. Freedom is hard. It sucks to have to be responsible for your own life, and it super sucks to start with the short end of the stick (being born poor). But it is NOT my job nor responsbility to fix something which has existed since the dawn of time, and will exist forever, because, brace yourself: people are not equal. Some people are stupid. Those people do not deserve to have my tax dollars rescue them from their stupidity. And it is patently impossible to separate out the truly deserving needy from the merely stupid and irresponsible. Therefore, the best way to help them, is through voluntary charity. That way, the truly needy at least have some help, and the rest of us aren’t forced at gunpoint to foot the bills for the galactically stupid.

              1. given two conflicting items (assisting some through various transfer payment schemes such as medicaid, welfare, etc, v. the freedom not to be robbed), I choose the latter.

                Then you are objectively, morally wrong. It’s not even robbery you’re the victim of. You’re just calling taxation robbery to justify your aversion to it and the fact that you can tolerate a highly unjust darwinian-type society on that basis alone. It’s not rational. It is not appealing. It is just wrong. You are still endorsing a type of society whether you admit it or not, one that can be vastly improved upon. And you can justify a welfare state completely on the sociopathic-levels of selfishness you display. Not only could you benefit on such services, you benefit from other people having them. The darwinian society you claim is the best possible world (that is what you’re claiming–otherwise why does it matter?) is one in which the likelihood of you getting actually robbed increases hugely, since there are more starving people. What you endorse is unappealing on every level, and you’re claiming to base it on what? The single most important moral principle in the universe: it’s wrong to be taxed?

                1. Taxation may be useful or necessary, but that doesn’t mean it is not robbery.

                2. You are still endorsing a type of society whether you admit it or not, one that can be vastly improved upon.

                  Holy hubris, Batman!

                  Society is not something to be improved upon. It just is.

                  Look at what happens when people try to improve on society.
                  Do I have to pull a Godwin?

                  Society is not some piece of clay to be shaped through governmental policy. It is millions and millions of individuals engaging in voluntary activity. Government’s only legitimate role is to step in when that activity involves force and/or fraud, to react to force with force, and otherwise leave people alone.

                  Once you accept that life is not fair, and that you and you alone are responsible for your lot in life, then things become much simpler.
                  Not easy. Nothing in life that is worth anything is easy. But it does become much simpler.

                  1. sarcasmic you want to engineer society every bit as much as I do. The major difference is very few people want the society you’re trying to sell.

                    You can’t say you want the organic product of non-governed people interacting without saying why. Why is that best? Because absolute individual liberty is more important than anything else? I disagree with that premise wholeheartedly. Then you go on to define what you think government should be doing. Well, I think it should do things in addition to this. You’re not right because it’s simpler.

                    1. sarcasmic you want to engineer society every bit as much as I do.

                      No Tony, I want to let society engineer itself.

                      You want to impose your will, I want liberty.

                      Liberty is not an imposition. It is a lack of impositions.

                3. “Then you are objectively, morally wrong.”

                  Objective morality? That sounds fundamentalist to me. Have you been dipping into the sacramental wine, Tony?

                  1. If your morality is based on anything meaningful at all, then the idea that taxation is a greater imposition than letting children starve is objectively morally wrong.

                    1. Tony, please understand: just because you believe something, does NOT make it 1) correct, and 2) so correct that it must be imposed upon others at the point of a gun.

                      You say people don’t want the society we’re selling…then why are their armed police officers enforcing bogus drug laws on casual users? If everyone wanted your society, they’d all voluntarily stop using drugs, since it’s against the law.

                      Why does the IRS have enforcement agents? If everyone wanted the society you’re selling, everyone would voluntarily pay their taxes, no enforcement required.

                      Here’s the thing: you think we mean to impose a stateless vision on you whether you want it or not. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you and a bunch of like-minded folks want to get together, form a community, and agree to taxation in exchange for certain public services, then by all means, feel free.

                      What we ARE asking is that you stop assuming that you are SO superior to us both intellectually and morally that it is your right and duty to impose your vision upon us whether we’d have it or not. Our vision allows you to form whatever community you want with like-minded fellows. Your vision imposes force upon us to comply with it, because you believe a small number of educated elites know better than everyone else how things should be run, and that they should be granted a monopoly on force in order to enact their dictates. Boiled down, that is what you believe, because that is just a non-PC way of describing bureaucratic government.

                4. Your understanding of Darwinian theory is severely limited. It says nothing about morality or even the best surviving, because it lacks qualitative analysis. The only thing that matters is that – just like in markets – cells interact with each other and those cells produce organisms through – as Dawkins puts it – selfish genes. It is not necessarily true that species survive because of selfish behavior as you understand it with your primitive sense of morality. Mammals seem to survive because they work together. As in markets, cells interact with each other at random to produce what looks like a planned whole. Just like the creationist, you assume the market must have a designer, because without one there would be – hold your breath – chaos. In fact, altruism is a good thing for human survival and the market is the ultimate expression of voluntarism and the lack of coercion or even a top-down order. It produces wealth for billions of people without a designer. Your mind is shaped to find a designer, and if you don’t, you will impose one upon it. Your problem is you are fighting against Ayn Rand. We are not objectivists. We are libertarians. There are many of us who despise Rand, because she was wrong about altruism.

                  Secondly, evolutionary psychology shows that voluntary exchange (capitalism) is the very trait that has allowed humans to be the ONLY species to become more prosperous as we have become more populous. You see it as selfish because you have a paleolithic morality, where sharing is seen as the top goal (this works in small units such as the family). But in a market you don’t realize that the profit motive is actually benefiting you and everyone around you. You only see the selfish behavior of the store owner, not even realizing that you both benefit from the exchange. Capitalism is the only reason vast swathes of humanity were able to escape abject poverty, not coercion and state power. Otherwise, North Korea would be a bastion of prosperity. You are at war with the very thing that leads to your own prosperity.

                  Nevertheless, you are right that people disagree with us, but that, as I have mentioned, is a result of having a primitive morality based on a false understanding of the world around. You see zero-sum when in reality it is no such thing.

                  The fact that you throw around Darwin’s name as some sort of emotive term to criticize your opponents is shameful and betrays your ignorance of science. Markets are like evolution. It would serve you well to gain a better understanding of both.

                  1. soonerliberty,

                    As in markets, cells interact with each other at random to produce what looks like a planned whole.

                    This is not what happens at all. Cells are organized according to a complex hierarchy of functions beginning with DNA. The brain regulates, top-down, clumps of cells known as bodies.

                    But that’s beside the point. My evolution comparison isn’t perfect, but it is instructive. If you view evolution as a process that produces beneficial outcomes organically without top-down organization, you’d be party right. But the good outcomes it produces come at the cost of the vast majority of attempts–more than 99% of all species go extinct. It’s not an efficient system at all. If you expect the market through millions of individual interactions to produce positive overall outcomes in the manner of a darwinian system, then you are not making a good case for the free market at all.

                    Second, I’m not at war with capitalism. It has its place. But it has never produced the outcomes you list all on its own. Government must partner with it and guide it to certain ends (and leave it alone in certain areas) in order to produce a decent society. It has always been a partnership, so any claims about the value of a free market are speculation.

                    1. You misunderstood me. When I say random, I mean that there is no organizer behind it. Many reactions take place at random by collision. Without these random collisions, cells could not exist. Cell formation precedes brain formation, since the brain is composed of cells itself. See embryonic development. In general, you are right about DNA, but it is not a central planner. DNA functions according to local rules, just as actors in the market act individually to produce a whole.

                      You’re still assigning qualitative terms to Darwinian theory. There’s nothing beneficial about the outcomes. They just are. There’s nothing positive or negative about humans having survived and flourished (so far). It just is. Markets are the same. If you attach terms like beneficial or efficient, you are assigning qualitative terms, which is a fallacy. Markets just are. They are the rational and irrational interactions of billions of participants, the results of which just are. Evolution cannot be said to be efficient or inefficient because we don’t know what the alternatives are or what waste is. We don’t even know how truly complex it is, just as 99% of humans don’t understand the complexity of markets. Terms like efficiency are for the planner.

                      You are wrong again. Government cannot guide the actions of 6 billion people. That is simply an impossibility given the knowledge problem and socialist calculation problem. You are making the same mistakes as creationists. You see an ordered market and assume it is a result of government (an obvious fallacy) just as the creationist assumes a god must have ordered nature, which we know to be patently false. It is a chicken and egg type question, but government cannot exist without a market to precede it, for it produces nothing. It can only confiscate from the market and rearrange it. Without it, it is merely a band of thugs. With it, it is an armed band of thugs.

                      The fact that the market produces results you don’t like is meaningless, because it is obviously producing results that consumers desire. Without them, it could not exist. What you are saying is the sum total of billions of interactions is wrong and that brute force must be introduced to steer it in another direction. However, because there are so many variables, your intervention will only lead to different interactions, all of which will have to be reregulated to infinity.

                    2. However, because there are so many variables, your intervention will only lead to different interactions, all of which will have to be reregulated to infinity.

                      Tony despises liberty.

                      From above:

                      Because absolute individual liberty is more important than anything else? I disagree with that premise wholeheartedly.

                      He disagrees wholeheartedly with the premise that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not hurting anyone else. He couldn’t disagree with that more.

                      Choices are not for the individual. They are for the expert, the statesman, the politician, but not for the individual.

                      Liberty is evil.

                      What he wants is freedom.
                      Freedom from choice. Freedom from consequence. Freedom from responsibility.
                      All freedom requires is that you give up all your liberty.

                      Freedom is slavery, and slavery is freedom.

                    3. Ad hominem much?

                    4. But the good outcomes it produces come at the cost of the vast majority of attempts–more than 99% of all species go extinct.

                      So what. You want no extinctions?
                      Oh yeah. That love of diversity.

                      Then why is it that you hate liberty so much?

                      Liberty and free markets mean that everyone has a chance to let their idea be tried. Total diversity. If it is good it makes a profit, if not it doesn’t.

                      Government must partner with it and guide it to certain ends (and leave it alone in certain areas) in order to produce a decent society.

                      Translation: some ideas that would otherwise fail in the market must be propped up with force because the one with the idea had political influence.

                      I’m starting to understand why you hate liberty so much.

            3. public education is the unfair, lesser alternative that the poor must endure in this country.

              The rich (and urban middle class) are all in private schools.

              Public schools are only for those who can’t get out of them.

              You confuse the issue of ensuring the disadvantaged have access to something and thinking that only the government can provide it.

              Food and housing are available to everyone in this country, yet the government does not provide it.

              1. Whether you agree with it or not, government is hugely involved in the provision of food and housing, both directly and indirectly (e.g. mortgage interest deduction, crop subsidies and tariffs, etc.).

            4. “Without public education there is no fairness to the market.”

              If there’s one area of “forced charity” that we have to contend with, I think public education (or at least the concept) is the least offensive. Although in practice it arguably makes many children (both rich and poor) worse off for a plethora of other reasons. But that aside…

              I think you’ll have to pry open exactly what you mean by “fairness”…because to the extent that we are all very different people in terms of background, tradition, genetics, upbringing, circumstance, etc., fairness seems somewhat elusive or murky outside the context of justice (authority).

        3. Adam Smith and Thomas Paine forcefully argued for public education, and as a classical liberal, I would agree that providing education to the poorest of the poor more than pays for itself in the long run (something libertarians fail to understand – also, more education = less need for subsistence welfare). However, our public school system is horribly flawed, with the poor locked into awful schools and control being removed from local communities. The Democrats’ failure to support school choice is arguably the biggest reason for modern day poverty in America, but they thrive politically off this inequality and have an interest in perpetuating it.

          1. That may have been true in the 19th century, but I would posit that, as it stands now, private schools appear more capable.

            1. That private schools are more capable and preferable does not mean the basic service of public schooling should not be available for those who can not afford private schools or qualify for scholarships. I’d like to believe that charity would be enough, but the example of the 19th century proves otherwise. Unlike other forms of government welfare, education (if done right) is probably the only one that is truly productive, self-sustaining and reduces net welfare. Inequality is the Left’s primary argument for increasing government welfare – education improves meritocracy and levels the playing field opportunity-wise to where other forms of welfare are less necessary beyond crisis response and minimal emergency subsistence situations (both of which there should be less of with a more educated populace anyway).

              1. “Unlike other forms of government welfare, education *(if done right)*”

                There’s your problem right there.

                1. …the difference being that the other forms of welfare won’t be productive even if they were done right. I’ve never defended the institution as it currently stands, which is in desperate need of reform.

              2. It seems like the answer to education (if we’re just trying to assure that everyone gets one) is to get government out of both implementing and regulating it and simply use means-testing to cut people checks/credits for education. Quite frankly, I think this would be a lot better than what we currently have. It seems to me we can compromise on providing food through welfare without having government actually make the food and run the stores. Why we give government a marginal monopoly on education is beyond me.

        4. {Actually a far larger number of people have access to education at every level since government has offered it.}

          And? Prior to government being involved in education most people had little NEED for formal education, beyond a rudimentary one, as most employment was in africulture and/or unskilled labor. Those that REQUIRED a formal education got it just fine without need of government, through proprietary or parochial schools.

          1. And to expand on that point, what good is all this public education for the masses, anyway?
            Do we need university-educated waiters?
            We’re not more educated now, in terms of, are we cranking out larger numbers of useful people such as research scientists, doctors and engineers.
            All we’re doing is creating a Credentialist society, where every brain-dead job requires paperwork and a $100K student debt.
            As usual, the statists have failed to look at both sides of the ledger: What are the assets we’ve acquired for the liabilities we carry?
            More over-educated gardeners, realtors and drywallers.

        5. Actually a far larger number of people have access to education at every level since government has offered it. So fail there.

          Er, they have access to a piece of paper that says they had an education. The deteriorating performance of schools in the mean time — particularly inner city and rural public schools — has mostly offset that difference.

        6. Sorry, but this is a post hoc fallacy, and equates government with community. They are not the same thing, and arguing that the masses would have been uneducated without government misses the forest for the trees. It also automatically presumes that more schooling=more education.

          Prior to the 20th century, if a community wanted to set up a school, they pooled their resources and hired a teacher or two. The public school system we know came about due to the massive influx of immigrants into the cities at the end of the 19th century, which ramped up the scale of government needed to keep them sated enough to not burn said cities to the ground. The Prussian model was adopted about this time because it allowed governments to cram children into organized blocks in such a way that it could be administered more efficiently. Such as system was never about “increasing access to education,” it was about trying to keep urban ruffians off the street and out of trouble. If the municipal governments had been concerned about access, they would never have allowed manual and industrial schools to be established, since they took up resources that could have been allocated towards the liberal arts and humanities.

          This system worked just fine back when students were actually educated rigorously and deeply, especially at the college level. Our collective knowledge has increased, but it’s a stretch to say that today’s generations are more literate and capable than the ones from 110 years ago. These days, schools are just glorified certification programs that cater to the lowest common denominator, because they promoted the philosophy that the government should take care of everyone’s needs from cradle to grave, and now can’t handle the responsibility of producing well-balanced students because parents expect them to live up to said philosophy.

      3. You earn your moniker today, sir.

  9. Although I agree with the overall premise to reduce government subsidies (ag subsidies in particular).

    I don’t think his other conclusions neccessairly follow.

    For example, why can’t citizens get together and decide they would like roads and then tax themselves to fund it?

    Econ 101 (and common sense) tell us that public goods are not neccessarily produced in an efficent quanitity by the free market.

    I’m ok with some limited government involvement to get things going.

    For example the old rural electrification act, highways, and yes highspeed rail.

    Let the tarring and feathering commence.

    1. For example, why can’t citizens get together and decide they would like roads and then tax themselves to fund it?

      No one says they can’t. I’m pretty sure everyone here would be totally ok with a group of people choosing to pool resources for some end. However, to call it a tax would be disingenuous in that a tax requires coercion by some authority. If all people are spending willingly, it’s not a tax – it’s just a shared expense.

      Econ 101 (and common sense) tell us that public goods are not necessarily produced in an efficient quantity by the free market.

      Name me an actual, honest to goodness public good. Your road example fails as it does not satisfy the criteria of being both non-rival and non-excludable. Roads may be non-rival (in that one person’s use doesn’t preclude another person’s use), but they’re certainly not non-excludable, as toll roads show. The typical example of a public good is that of a lighthouse, yet people like Ronald Coase have shown how the benefits of a lighthouse can be made excludable by tying their maintenance costs into nearby port fees. National defense is another standard example – it’s pretty easy to show that this can also be made excludable, as Rothbard has done.

      Moreover, you’ll find that some people on this forum are likely to disagree with the assertion that public goods are inefficiently produced due to a basic disagreement over the notion of economic efficiency. Mainstream economics would take this to be defined by the extremely utilitarian concept of Pareto optimality. It’s easy to reject this concept in favor of a more individualistic definition of efficiency by looking at the ridiculously shaky philosophical foundations upon which utilitarianism stands.

      1. Actually the typical example of a public good is the military (others might be clean air and water etc)

        Most of the other ones are not fully public, but they generate enough public benefits that people (the public) often think they should pay for them

        I agree that some people on this forum don’t like the idea. I just disagree with them.

    2. “For example, why can’t citizens get together and decide they would like roads and then tax themselves to fund it?”

      Why should 51% of a population be able to force 49% of the population to pay for something they don’t want?

    3. We don’t need high speed rail. We have planes. However increasing the ability of our rail network to ship goods would be a much better use of our money, and one that has shown itself to work.

      But big diesel engines hauling two miles of double stacked rail cars at 55 mph isn’t sexy. Even though that train would do more to reduce carbon emissions by taking trucks off the road than any sleek high speed train.

      1. How did you manage to have your name orange and clickable? Is there a way to become a member of Reason? I had a look but couldn’t find a sign-up area.

        1. When you reply to a comment, include your email address, and your moniker will be orange. Results may vary, void where prohibited.

    4. For example the old rural electrification act

      Do you mean the same one that finished in the 1960’s but yet lives on today?

      Who says zombies aren’t real?

  10. We should find a good balance. A consensus if you will. I think we can all agree that caution is the best answer.

    Hey, is that a basketball? Wooo!

  11. Why are all the paragraphs so short? It reads like a transcript, not an article.

    1. He’s a TV news guy.

  12. There was an article on Tech Ticker yesterday basically saying Keynesianism has been validated, because the British economy, which underwent cuts and austerity, is doing much worse than ours now (and is probably in another recession).

    They completely miss the fact that by drawing the poision now, rather than keep on injecting it, we will suffer much worse withdrawl in the long run.

    1. Actually the problem with Keynseism isn’t with the theory it’s with politicans implementation.

      The theory calls for excess government spending in a recession, and then government surplus when times are good.

      If done in this manner it makes a lot of sense.

      For example if we had entered 2008 with almost zero debt, and we didn’t have the looming entitlement problems then yes the stimulus would have been fine. In this situation it mearly acts like a GDP smoother.

      However, now we have dug ourselves such a deep hole that adding extra debt is just compounding the problem.

      1. Actually the problem with Keynseism isn’t with the theory it’s with politicans implementation.

        I remember people saying the same thing about Marxism and Communism. When a political economic theory is implemented over and over again, and leads to the same effed up results every time, maybe people need to rethink their “But the theory is valid!” and “We just need the Right People in charge” defenses.

        1. “I remember people saying the same thing about Marxism and Communism. When a political economic theory is implemented over and over again, and leads to the same effed up results every time, maybe people need to rethink their “But the theory is valid!” and “We just need the Right People in charge” defenses.

          Agreed, thus I would be most in favor of Kensianism right after the government has paid down the majority of the debt and been producing surplus for a number of years.

      2. There’s still a massive problem with Keynesianism even if spending is only done during a period of poor economic performance. Governments have to choose where to spend the money and, in doing so, pick winners and losers. Because such approaches have no way of taking into account that which individuals in the society value (socialist calculation problem), they necessarily create malinvestments and force the start of additional business cycles. In this case, the cure leads to more of the same problem.

        1. There’s always going to be this problem, because government’s always going to exist and it’s always going to contract out. Just think of government as a customer like any other. It can create demand. It does so by spending money. That’s not a distortion of the market, it’s participation in it.

          1. The government, like Soylent Green, is people.

          2. [Just think of government as a customer like any other.]

            Like treating the guy at the 7-11 with a drawn revolver as just another customer.

          3. Say’s Law.

            That is all.

        2. “Governments have to choose where to spend the money and, in doing so, pick winners and losers”

          Not necessarily. My plan for the stimulus was to get $700 Billion in $50 bills and have some people fly around the country in helicopters throwing handfuls of cash out the windows. The distribution is fairly random and the money actually gets spent on things that people want or need.

        3. “Governments have to choose where to spend the money and, in doing so, pick winners and losers. ”

          I’m ok with this. Yes when a government decides to build a road or a damm or a military base etc (note we are not just talking about the federal govt but govt in general) then sure that means winners and loosers occur. But that doesn’t mean nothing should ever get built.

          1. So, according to you, if the government didn’t build it, nothing would ever be built?

            1. According to me if the govenment didn’t ever build anything certain things wouldn’t get built, or they might not get built in an efficent quantity.

              IE, we would still get plenty of burger stands, we probably wouldn’t get as many roads or militatry bases (of course for some people that would be fine, for me it’s not)

              1. “(of course for some people that would be fine, for me it’s not)”

                The problem is, by using gov’t, you are forcing the rest of us to agree with you whether we want to or not.

                1. Yes that’s true. But again I’m ok with that for some things (and for many other things I’m not).

                  That’s how taxes work, you force people to pay for things. Some of the things we are forced to pay I agree with (and some are even in the consitution) some are not.

                  1. I’m curious what gives you the right to be OK with forcing me to agree with you at gunpoint. And why it’s OK to utilize a state apparatus to do this, but if I came to your house, pointed a weapon at you, and forced you to contribute to some organization which you adamantly did not wish to support, somehow that would be “assault”, even if a plurality of my friends voted that it would be a great idea.

                    “Yes that’s true. But again I’m ok with that for some things (and for many other things I’m not).”

                    I will simply never understand the mind of an authority-worshiping totalitarian. And yes, for you to simply declare that you are OK seizing my wealth at gunpoint in order to use it for some scheme which you prefer my wealth to go towards, makes you a totalitarian.

                    1. As long as you have a vote you have an equal say with everyone else. What other system would you prefer? Unanimous votes for every single policy? You can see how this wouldn’t go anywhere.

                    2. NO number of votes should be used as justification to sieze my assets, even if everyone in the world voted to do it. I would prefer a system where I could opt out if I so chose…instead, I have an inefficient and corrupt one forced upon me by people like you, who believe that it is completely right and just to subject me to torture and rape (if I went to prison) because you want to fund a fucking cowboy poetry festival.

                    3. “As long as you have a vote you have an equal say with everyone else.”

                      This isn’t true generally speaking. Just saying.

              2. If you build the bases, the hamburger stands will appear all around them.

                1. Bunch of fucking sheep, arguing over taxes, when the income tax, as it’s been implemented, is the biggest scam ever. I attended many Militia meetings in the 90s, and learned some interesting things. Such as, Why were earlier attempts at an income tax shot down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional? Why do the 1040 forms say it’s voluntary? Gov’t has no automatic claim on us or our property. They simply operate on the ‘might makes right’ principle. How can we be bound by a Social Security contract that most of us entered into before we were of age? My daughter can’t attend school with out a SSN. The fucking mafia is more ethical.

                  1. They simply operate on the ‘might makes right’ principle.

                    What else do you expect? Rules enforced by hoping everyone will be gentlemen? You were born into the jurisdiction of a national power. Be glad you weren’t born into that of North Korea. Then you’d really have something to cry about.

                    1. “What else do you expect? Rules enforced by hoping everyone will be gentlemen?”

                      An argument that evil often prevails over the good is not a good reason to dispose of the good in favor of evil.

                    2. Power can be used for good or evil. The pristine force of your arguments don’t do anything.

                    3. Neither does the scrupulous nature of yours. The folly of your argument is that it explicitly recognizes the reality of human nature that presents the largest problem to it. The general contention of libertarianism (in many flavors) is that your proposed solutions, well-intentions as they may be, exacerbate the problems by further consolidating monopolistic power into humans, which you go out of your way to claim are flawed.

                    4. “NO number of votes should be used as justification to sieze my assets, even if everyone in the world voted to do it. ”

                      And yet that’s how governments work. If you don’t like it you are free to leave of coure, unfourtantly the majority of the planet is run by governments.

                      You could always try to see stead.

                      But let’s preten there was some place you could go and setup. Then maybe other like minded people joinded you.

                      Pretty soon you would have a thriving little community BUT.

                      Oh oh, the neiboring country wants your resources, guess you guys need to start banding together to protect what’s yours. But who’s going to pay for all that?

                      Well, I guess it’s only fair that everyone contributes right?

                      Oops now you’ve created another government.

                      As long as their is human nature, there will be the need for people to band together to accomplish certain goals. Sometimes not everyone will agree on everything, but most times they will stay with the group anyway.

                      If things get to bad, then sometimes people will rise up and change the rules.

                      In the end, might doesnn’t make right, but it does make policy.

                    5. “Oh oh, the neiboring country wants your resources, guess you guys need to start banding together to protect what’s yours. But who’s going to pay for all that?

                      Well, I guess it’s only fair that everyone contributes right?

                      Oops now you’ve created another government.”

                      This is what we call a non sequitur.

                    6. You REALLY don’t see how that follows?

                    7. I don’t, no… Why don’t you explain it.

                      As has already been established, people buying services they find useful in large groups isn’t synonymous with “taxation”.

                      When I go out to dinner with a big group of friends, if our meals were similar in price, we often simply split the tab evenly. No guns needed, and if I don’t think I should have to pay for any more than my share, then those arrangements are easily made as well.

                      If I want to protect myself from a foreign invader(which, by the way, I’d contend is extremely unlikely in a libertarian world – since we’d be generally willing to trade with whomever is going to make a deal and the costs & risks of trading are minimal compared to the costs & risks of warfare) and so do you – and so do 100 other people – then we can easily get together and pool our money to hire some competent defenders on our own terms.

                      Personally, the older I get, and the more I think about this stuff, the less the Free Rider issue bothers me at all.

                      If a couple people aren’t capable of paying but are none-the-less protected by my arrangements with the rest of the people in the neighborhood… so be it. I guess that’s just a positive externality, no?

                    8. “You REALLY don’t see how that follows?”

                      It’s not merely that I “don’t see how that follows”…I see precisely how it does NOT necessarily follow (hint: there is a quite vast myriad of political frameworks out there. Not everyone here is “coloring within the lines” so to speak – ideologically.

                    9. Do you have the slightest clue how ethics works?

                      And, your argument above is self-contradicting. You argue for might-makes-right, then warn against a state operating by that principle.

                      Or are you saying something even dumber?

      3. In theory it makes sense. But you end up losing more GDP in the future than you gain right now, even if you start with zero debt. Some people might claim that having less total GDP is worth having smoother GDP. Most people in this forum would disagree.

        1. I guess the other question though is how much extra GDP you would lose from the normal recession mechanics and if that out weights the debt costs from the stimulus.

    2. They were talking about that on Bloomberg today. I was disappointed that nobody raised the long-term question, and asked why you couldn’t say the same thing about any heroin addict while they were going through withdrawal.

  13. This is nonsense. How did Apple know we would want iPods, iPhones, and iPads? It didn’t know with certainty. It took a risk with its own and investors’ money.

    How does anything get sold? You go out and tell the people “you people want what I’m selling.”

    1. “How does anything get sold? You go out and tell the people “you people want what I’m selling.””

      And if you’re selling Segways, people say: “Up yours”.

    2. Consumers are rational. Not robots.

      1. Most are really neither of those things. And robots are simple, not irrational.

      2. Have you met Apple consumers? I’m pretty sure the iSheep are robots.

      3. Consumers are rational. Not robots.

        Ummm…WHAT?

        1. Its the difference between consumers in aggregate being rational and each consumer always doing the “most rational” thing.

      4. “”Consumers are rational. Not robots.””

        Lets just say they are not robots.

  14. i sold greed…which folks pay alotta money for

  15. Mr. Stossel is giving 42-point type to old news. There has never been a time in the history of the U.S. when businessmen (and businesswomen when they came along) were not rent-seeking parasites. Neither has there ever been a time in the history of the U.S. when politicians were not eager to expand the reach and power of the Federal government … well, once the state governments had reached their limits of power and businesses had expanded to cover the continent and beyond; before that, the state governments were the major arena for rent-seeking and the pursuit of power. The solution is, at one and the same time, simple and out of reach. Prohibit the local, state and Federal governments from making any law, regulation, rule, standard or other command however disguised concerning any economic activity (or inactivity) whatsoever, no matter where it is originated, conducted, advertised or otherwise engaged in. See? Easy and impossible.

    1. Re: Ike,

      There has never been a time in the history of the U.S. when businessmen (and businesswomen when they came along) were not rent-seeking parasites.

      There has never been a time in history of the US when disease did not exist.

      So, what? We raise our arms in a dismissive, fatalistic attitude, roll over and die? Or do we discuss the issue?

      1. Unlike diseases, for which there are practical cures and/or vaccines, human nature is not so easily thwarted. When President Obama’s election was celebrated by so many people shouting to the skies that he was going to pay all their bills and that white police had lost all of their authority – and followed up by a host of wrong-headed and just plain wrong actions by him and the then-majority Democrats, one might be excused from believing that this – not earthquakes – heralded the ‘end of life as we know it’. When, after two years of exposure to such behavior, a Republican majority is elected to the House and that party increases their numbers in the Senate, one might be forgiven for thinking that they insanity was short-lived. When, however, the GOP after a brief display of crowd-pleasing fluff, returns to business as usual – see Sen. Murkowski’s being hailed upon her re-election which was in violation of the GOP’s rules in Alaska, the quibbling over the odd million or so in a federal budget in the red to the tune of several trillions of dollars, the President ordering American military to attack a nation without either Constitutional nor statutory authority to do so and neither does the military refuse nor the Congress become outraged – save for a few far-left peaceniks – then one might be forgiven for concluding that the ‘end’ – in whatever form that may take – is nigh. It is long passed time for discussion and armed rebellion would be both morally wrong and futile. Discuss? The city burns and you want to talk about how to organize the fire department??

        1. “Far-left peaceniks”??

          Last I checked the only substantial voice of anti-war right now are Libertarians.

          But more importantly, you’re right… Human nature isn’t easy to get around – which is precisely why we shouldn’t set up systems that reward the bad elements of it by giving them the power of violence over others.

  16. You’re for all those things but you don’t propose a means to achieving them, and to some, that’s tantamount to not caring about them.

    Without central planners, existence is a meaningless void.

  17. “The government’s going to invest in certain companies to pioneer new technologies. That, I think, is not corporate welfare,” says Tamara Draut of the Progressive think-tank Demos.

    Let me be perfectly clear, give me a break.

  18. I’m all for ending corporate welfare, I also support:

    1. De-funding NPR, PBS, the NEA, etc.

    2. No more tax breaks for people who buy hybrid or electric vehicles.

    3. No more government scholarships. IF you can’t afford Harvard go to a public school, can’t afford that? A trade school then. In fact, maybe it’s time to privatize the public school, why should I pay taxes for a service that doesn’t help me?

    Hell, privatize everything! No more public parks, public libraries, make the government TINY!

    JOE ARPAIO FIGHTS COCKFIGHTING RING WITH TANKS.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl…..-with.html

    1. I’m of the military, police, and courts school myself. And no more of these Department of Offense budget antics. Small military.

  19. Gee, Gregooooooooooo!, I didn’t see the TSA on your list.

    Get back to us when you’re serious.

    1. Fine.

      4. Defunding the TSA.

      1. Gregory Smith…WINNING!!!!!!!!

  20. I find that this article is overly simplistic and retreads obvious ground with no real gain.

    The article and most of the comments here fail to understand a very fundamental distinction, which I think is the following:

    The free market is great at solving the generally immediate needs of individuals, particularly when efficiency is the overriding value. However, it is not particularly good at solving societal problems that are often directly at odds with individual needs.

    For example: problems of the commons, security, issues where fairness is deemed more important than efficiency, and problems which require a long-term strategy that may be at odds with short-term gains.

    To the extent that such issues exist, even the staunchest libertarian must enter into a debate about “to what extent and in what ways” government should be involved in solving these problems. To not enter that debate is to propose anarchy.

    The problem with this article is that it either ignores that such issues exist, or pretends (without any justification) that the market will solve them.

    Governmental intrusion into the market is essentially (in ideal terms) society saying “this particular issue answers to values not addressed by the market which are more important than efficiency. We are willing to sacrifice efficiency for the sake of X, Y or Z.”

    I totally agree that this happens far too often and without proper justification. But this article is a childish diatribe that ignores the more subtle nature of the issue.

    1. I find that this article is overly simplistic and retreads obvious ground with no real gain.

      Welcome….to Stossel country.

      I don’t think the regulars here are the target audience.

    2. I find that this article is overly simplistic and retreads obvious ground with no real gain.

      First time to a Stossel column?

      1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 2:54PM|#
        “I find that this article is overly simplistic and retreads obvious ground with no real gain.

        First time to a Stossel column?”
        —————–
        And yet, it’s still too complicated for you.

        1. I had a boyfriend like you once.

          1. …what, bored by your perennial stupidity? Did he leave you for someone of higher intelligence?

    3. Governmental intrusion into the market is essentially (in ideal terms) society saying “this particular issue answers to values not addressed by the market which are more important than efficiency. We are willing to sacrifice efficiency for the sake of X, Y or Z.”

      Society doesn’t say anything; individuals in a society do. And if they think X Y Z is more important than squeezing every penny out of every dollar, they should pool together their money to accomplish X Y and Z.

      If most people aren’t willing to pay for a government program, then instituting it is undemocratic; if most people are willing to pay for it, then instituting it as a government program is unnecessary.

      1. Only if you assume government is this evil external force and not the very means by which people pool their resources to accomplish things on the relevant scale.

        1. “…and not the very means by which people pool their resources to accomplish things on the relevant scale.”

          I think I can help you with your definition:

          “…and not the tool by which a slim plurality of people employ the threat of violence to force others who disagree with them to pony up and get with the fucking program.”

        2. People don’t need a government to pool their resources.

          They only need a government to pool other people’s resources.

          1. Actually I think that’s one of the reasons governments were orginally created, to pool resources to protect the homeland.

            1. Or attack someone else’s I suppose.

              Both perfectly valid

            2. I agree that there are free rider problems with a few necessary items for civilization, such as a military, a police force, and roads, and coercive taxation is necessary to make those functions work.

              But the reality is that those absolutely necessary services account for a vanishingly small proportion of current total government spending. We could make a shitload of budget cuts before even touching something that’s vital to society’s functioning. The refrain “but what about roads and police?!!!” that the left immediately breaks out in, every time we talk about cutting spending on midnight basketball and Broccoli Awareness Week, is wearing a bit thin.

              1. So it’s just a difference in policy. As cutting minutiae from the budget won’t affect the budget in a meaningful way, you just have a policy dispute. So argue for cuts on those grounds, don’t tell people something not legitimate just because you don’t like it.

                1. Social Security, Medicare, and elective warfare are not minutiae and not necessary.

              2. “Free rider” problems? If you can afford to pay for it, do so and enjoy the benefits to you without the sentimental, emotional reaction to those who enjoy the benefits without paying. That old sock is ready for the junk man.

          2. So what if you have a collective of millions of people. Does every vote have to be unanimous before any decisions are made about their resources? No, for practical reasons they’d develop a system of I dunno maybe majority-rule-based representative government.

            You happened to have been born in just such a collective. You don’t like the rules it established for itself you don’t have to stay.

            1. No one has claimed that your group of people should not be allowed to form this entity. What we are saying is you should not be allowed to force the rest of us at gunpoint to also participate in it.

              Again, quit trying to pretend this is a zero-sum game between chaos and the state. If you want to form an oppressive state with your like-minded brethern, then please, do so. But QUIT FUCKING TELLING ME I HAVE TO ALSO PARTICIPATE IN IT OR ELSE YOUR GOONS WILL IMPRISON ME YOU FUCKING FASCIST.

              1. What we are saying is you should not be allowed to force the rest of us at gunpoint to also participate in it.

                So how do you deal with children who are born into a collective formed this way?

                Seems reasonable to have rules for citizenship, and efficient to bestow citizenship upon birth with the option of opting out if you choose. That’s what we have. It’s not forced on you, but you aren’t allowed to benefit from existing collectives and not go by its rules, which is what you seem to want.

                1. You can’t charge for benefits conferred without consent. Hell, without consent, you have no well to tell whether what you’re conferring is a benefit at all.

            2. You don’t like the rules it established for itself you don’t have to stay.

              The rules that were established are laid out in the Constitution, which you and your ilk ignore. So it’s you guys who need to consider leaving.

              (I also wonder how you recognize your absolute majority rule beliefs with your position on gay marriage)

              1. Tulpa for the millionth time, it is perfectly legitimate to set up supermajoritarian barriers to changes in civil rights policies. These are all practical measures to deal with the concerns of large numbers of people. Majority rule is the default practical way of deciding things, but it doesn’t have to apply to everything. What is certain is that requiring unanimity for everything is completely unworkable.

                1. I see. Majority rule for the things that Tony agrees with the majority on, and supermajority rule for the things that Tony doesn’t agree with the majority on.

                  And I never said unanimity was required for everything. Police, roads, courts, and military should be supported by taxes as they don’t work otherwise due to free-rider issues, while voluntary organizations can pool their voluntary members’ resources, voluntarily, to provide other services that their members wish to have. There’s no free rider problem for schools, retirement funds, and swimming pools.

            3. And of course, you’re begging the question from the outset: most people don’t view the population of the US as a “collective”, and many (myself included) recoil at the very thought. Most of us see the money and property we acquire honestly as our own to do with as we wish, rather than as part of a collective’s resources to be spent as the elusive “majority” wishes.

              In short, your views on the role of the individual in society are virulently vomitous and, thankfully, a long way from being taken seriously in reality (at least when they’re made explicit).

              1. You assert the right to make money and live a decent life but you balk at supporting the government that makes any of this possible? That makes the very money you make have any value?

                In theory this is a voluntary collective. It’s just one that must take measures to deal with the fact that children exist. Most people born into this collective choose to retain their residency within its jurisdiction and citizenship of it and hence abide by its rules and customs. That might just be a testament to its appeal. You are the one wanting to be a free rider. You want the ability to make money but you don’t want to pay for the system that allows you to do it.

                1. By the way, you stated earlier in this thread that citizenship is voluntary because we can “opt out”. No, you can’t. All you can do is transfer to another statist camp.

                  Why can’t I opt out? I’d like an honest answer. If I was willing to pay separately for water, fire, & private security in exchange for no taxes, how come I can’t do that? It’s against the law. It’s against the law for me, and others who agree with me, to move somewhere and separate ourselves from any nation (no nation allows breakaway republics). It’s alright for the US to breakaway from Britain when they don’t feel they’re being represented, but when I, and many others, feel the same way, well fuck you pal, because Tony and his 51% know what’s best for you, so you need to shut the hell up and take it. I just cannot fathom the logic.

                  1. By the way, you stated earlier in this thread that citizenship is voluntary because we can “opt out”. No, you can’t. All you can do is transfer to another statist camp.

                    Well, I want a flying car. Is it unjust that I can’t have one? There are plenty of cars out there. And there are plenty of countries, and what’s available in the market is supposed to be adequate, right? You are one of seven billion people. What on earth entitles you to your own private, sovereign plot of land? The collective you were born into asserts authority by force over a certain territory. Normal people are thankful for their good fortune of having been randomly born into a fairly decent society. But you are free to leave if you don’t like it. But why you think a limited planet owes you your own sovereign territory escapes me.

                2. You don’t have the balls to take our property by force, so you “collectivize” and use politicans, police, and courts to do your dirty work. Essentialy, you believe the “group” trumps the individual. Go fuck yourself.

                  1. CC what the fuck is your property without government to define its boundaries and enforce its protection from trespass? Without government, your claim to your stuff is equally valid as mine. What decides? Which of the two of us has the bigger gun? That’s just might makes right all over, minus the legitimacy and peaceful structure.

                    1. By that logic, no one in history owned anything until the State arrived and declared that it was so. History proves you wrong yet again sir.

                    2. Oh, and as to above, I’m not entitled to a sovereign piece of land. I do believe that I should be entitled to make a piece of land, which I purchase in a mutually agreeable transaction with the previous owner, sovereign if I so choose. However, you believe that I should instead be a slave to your “collective”.

                    3. [That makes the very money you make have any value?]

                      Checked the value of the dollar lately?
                      Gubmint giveth and gubmint taketh away.

                    4. Given the strict nature of your beliefs, your claim to near-absolute ownership of land is pretty shaky. It was in all likelihood acquired by force if not genocide originally. And it’s still claimed under the flag of a sovereign nation. You are welcome to try to secede, and good luck with that, or you’re welcome to go elsewhere and find some unclaimed land. But it’s a finite resource, and nobody ever said you had a right to your own country.

                    5. “Given the strict nature of your beliefs, your claim to near-absolute ownership of land is pretty shaky. It was in all likelihood acquired by force if not genocide originally. And it’s still claimed under the flag of a sovereign nation. You are welcome to try to secede, and good luck with that, or you’re welcome to go elsewhere and find some unclaimed land. But it’s a finite resource, and nobody ever said you had a right to your own country.”

                      You make _some_ valid points but then obscure them with several poor points. If someone can prove a valid previous ownership of any land I would happen to possess (and I don’t), then I’d contend you have an obligation to restore it to it’s rightful owner and proceed with the recompense of your purchase as it was fraudulent in nature. That being said, ceding currently held titles back to people who were long-ago dead and have exchanged hands incontestably for hundreds of years is a more difficult proposition. There’s an argument to consider such land abandoned and re-homesteaded under certain circumstances. Nonetheless, those are points I wouldn’t dismiss at all. So you’ll find no fight with me on those grounds.

                      That being said, living within a land with geographically bounded monopoly of force and law (which I’d contest anyways) is not the same as that nation “owning” the land – and if that IS your contention then we’re going to need a new framework that will account for dual-ownership of land by both the homesteader and the bystander. Good luck on on putting together something coherent or consistent in that regard (it’s been tried before).

                      Telling me that I can go claim other resources does not justify the act any more than a robber telling me that if I didn’t like being robbed I could have chosen to live somewhere else – or a mugger telling me that if I didn’t want to be hit, I should have moved. Either people own themselves and their labor, or they don’t. You can make the argument that there are things that over-ride our property rights (and I’ll probably disagree)…but trying to mask that by presenting some licentiously backwards understanding of property probably isn’t the best way of defending it – especially to people who have spent a good amount of time familiarizing themselves with the nature of property.

                      EVERYTHING (tangible) is finite…that doesn’t negate the concept of property – it induces it.

                3. You assert the right to make money and live a decent life but you balk at supporting the government that makes any of this possible?

                  I never asserted any such right. I don’t believe in positive rights.

                  That makes the very money you make have any value?

                  That’s a real whopper! They actually take away value from the money I make, and forbid my employer from paying me in non-dollar consideration.

            4. “Does every vote have to be unanimous before any decisions are made about their resources?”

              If all those resources were COLLECTIVELY owned, you might have a point.

    4. Society is composed of individuals. If something is bad for individuals, it’s bad for society. If somethign is good for individuals, it’s good for society. Therefore, the free market is good at helping society.

      Unless you’re referring to the bodyless organism, “society,” which technically doesn’t exist.

  21. the comment that ge is structuring their business around govt programs makes it the biggest whore in the country.

  22. How about if we ended the corporate legal entity altogether? The market cost of purchasing liability insurance for the corporate owners and actors would be extremely expensive (wondering how the cost of this implicit subsidy compares to the welfare state?), but it would be closer to a true free market and would naturally reduce business malfeasance and conglomeration and internalize current externalities that society pays for.

    1. The market cost of purchasing liability insurance for the corporate owners and actors would be extremely expensive

      Really? You want to be held personally liable for criminal actions of a company because of your 5 shares in a mutual fund?

      This is going to be fun.

      1. As a non-managing shareholder, the claimant would have to prove why you should be personally responsible, and for this reason non-active shareholders’ liability insurance would be extremely inexpensive.

        Libertarians understand the problems with fictional legal entities when it comes to marriage, and with elevated legal privileges for certain organizations like labor unions. I don’t see why corporations should be exceptions.

        1. Maybe because, as I’ve said all along, libertarianism is first and foremost the philosophical justification for increasing corporate power? It doesn’t have to be totally consistent, it just has to be good enough to sell on cable news.

          1. No, that’s because a.) the media has made it look that way, ignoring libertarians’ perpetual criticism of corporate welfare, and b.) many self-proclaimed libertarians don’t fully take their philosophy to its logical ends. At those ends, laissez faire is theoretically as anti-corporate as pure state socialism (the only difference being that people can still voluntarily associate in a similar manner to a corporation, but they pay for liability risk instead of socializing it and they go to jail if they violate the rights of others). All hybrid systems have only resulted in more powerful oligopolistic business entities that externalize costs and purchase political favors and subsidies. Your philosophy of regulation helps big business at the expense of small business. Mine does the opposite, encouraging small scale entrepreneurship while discouraging accumulated risk.

            1. Advocating a philosophy that protects corporations from the consequences of their malfeasance, while dismissing the people arguing against him as big-business stooges?

              That’s our Tony.

          2. “libertarianism is first and foremost the philosophical justification for increasing corporate power?”

            Does it feel good to just make shit up, Tony?

            1. So you tell me why you guys jerk off to nuclear power so much. This is an industry that absolutely, without a doubt, would not exist in a free market, because nobody would be able to afford the insurance.

              1. I agree with you on this.

                1. That was referring to Tony re: nuclear power. Shouldn’t you now be advocating laissez faire, Tony?

                2. How did you manage to have your name orange and clickable? Is there a way to become a member of Reason? I had a look but couldn’t find a sign-up area.

                  1. You have to add an email or website. Then it becomes orange and clickable.

                    1. You know who else was orange and clickable…

              2. We agree Tony. Though I think nuclear would be somewhat more viable if 1) the threat of nuclear terrorism didn’t make it so expensive to obtain and retain fissible materials, and 2) the other energy industries didn’t get subsidies also (local tax breaks being a big part of this that’s often overlooked).

                1. I think we can all agree that if energy was not subsidized at all, and business owners were personally liable for risks, nuclear power would not be a very viable option compared to even wind or solar power, which have lower liability risks. I willingly admit that unlimited (or contracted) liability would naturally restrict innovation and technology development in the riskier arenas with more overhead that usually requires government subsidization. It would also stimulate technology to make products safer. Alternately, a company could offer a rebate to consumers in return for contracting away any liability for use (or misuse) of their product and would put more disclaimers on their products, expanding the amount of market information available to consumers.

                  If I am a billionaire who has the capital to start a nuclear plant and can either afford the monumental cost of liability insurance or contract away my liability by paying all the people in the vicinity of the plant who could be potentially be endangered by my plant’s operations, it should be my right to do so. As long as the business owners take full responsibility for their actions, there should be no government limits on what they can or can’t do as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others.

                  Also, I should note that as a side effect of such a free market, frivolous lawsuits would decrease. Megacorporations attract frivolous lawsuits because their “victims” know how deep their pockets are. In a truly free market, enterprise would be more decentralized due to the increased risk of centralization, and you’d be suing actual people instead of faceless entities. If you’re like most people, you would be less willing to sue the nice folks running your neighborhood mom-and-pop coffee shop when you spill their coffee on your lap and sear your genitals than you would McDonald’s, and all businesses would have increased incentive to avoid such a risk in the first place. Owners are also more likely to settle out of court for claims then risk unlimited damages potentially out of their personal pockets. And within the context of contractual activities, parties can set up private arbitration and pre-assign liability in advance via contract, reducing the need for government run court systems.

                  1. (..not “need for” but “burden on”). I believe there need to be courts and police etc. to protect individuals from actions by those who violate their rights with whom they have no contractual relationship.

              3. “So you tell me why you guys jerk off to nuclear power so much.”

                Probably for the same reason that people who are “conservative” somehow came to support a “liberal” vision of economics during the last century – progressives are so damn over-reaching that it’s almost difficult to NOT be reactionary. Nuclear power may or may not be feasible in a truly free-market; but the propensity of some people to bludgeon the general populace with fear in every last corner of consumerism (in order to garner antipathy towards business) has lead a lot of defenders of markets to defend corporations ad hoc…even if they don’t support the way government subsidizes them.

                1. That’s exactly the problem though. Defenders of free markets should NOT defend corporations, because corporations by nature are market distortions, not free market organizations. Adam Smith himself opposed them. And the Left makes plenty of worthwhile points about actual corporate abuses that libertarians tend to ignore or write off as simple anticapitalism, when the problems would largely be solved by removing the government-created moral hazard of legal incorporation in the first place. I think libertarian defense of corporations is rooted in the historic alliance with the Right, when the Left is actually a more natural ally, although this would require an evangelistic campaign to teach the Left economics based on attaining progressive ends without statism (which almost always runs contrary to the interests of the poor, minorities and small business).

                  1. I wouldn’t contest anything you’ve said here. And I think an appreciable amount of libertarians don’t strictly defend corporations as such – but nonetheless they defend them more often than not. It’s quite tangled as the left often argues about things which conceivably could still take place in a free market, even if corporations didn’t enjoy specific favors. So in attempts to defend free markets they end up defending corporations. Much like in the defense of egalitarianism left-leaning libertarians end up often favoring public unions. They both have work to do.

              4. Hmm… I wonder if someone at Reason made this very point recently?

                https://reason.com/archives/201…..lear-power

                I wonder… hmm… Did other Reason writers also talk about this point? Gosh… Maybe so:

                http://www.thedaily.com/page/2…..almia-1-2/

          3. Tony|3.24.11 @ 3:05PM|#
            “Maybe because, as I’ve *LIED* all along, libertarianism is first and foremost the philosophical justification for increasing corporate power?”

            Yes, your continuing lie is, well a repeated lie.

        2. Why would I buy your stock? It hugely changes my risk/reward calculation if some jury in Mississippi can decide to that my portion of the damages is worth more than I paid for the stock. As minority partner in a traditional partnership, I am still jointly liable.

          1. And in a free market all business entities would be proprietorships and partnerships. No one said it would be pretty or easy. The government-created corporate entity is a huge market distortion that detaches responsibility from profits, and makes stockholders uninterested in ensuring that their businesses are avoiding fraud and violating peoples’ rights. The tiny risk that a jury will find you personally liable for actions you did not commit is preferable to the current system of corporate actors getting off scott free and leaving the victims and the rest of society to pay the costs. If you aren’t willing to purchase inexpensive liability insurance for low liability as the owner of the business, maybe you shouldn’t be a stockholder, since you don’t want the responsibility of owning a business – just the profits.

            Moreover, increased liability risk to non-acting owners is preferable to government regulation, rewarding good companies and punishing bad ones. Regulation tends to do the opposite, punishing the good companies with excessive costs, while the actors in the bad ones get golden parachutes when they get fired and leave the stockholders with the costs.

            1. Hobo Chang Ba|3.24.11 @ 5:45PM|#
              “…The government-created corporate entity is a huge market distortion that detaches responsibility from profits,…”

              Can you cite a single circumstance where a (real) liability wasn’t covered by the guilty corporation?
              ————————-
              “and makes stockholders uninterested in ensuring that their businesses are avoiding fraud and violating peoples’ rights.”

              Not me, it doesn’t. Successful liability can force a bankruptcy, meaning my stock is worthless.

              1. Every time a “corporation” has ever gotten away with fraud or violating rights, property, etc.? Moreover, I’m arguing that the responsible parties within businesses and the managing owners and executives who should have prevented the actions should pay for the costs instead of leaving the burden almost completely on stockholders or else on the rest of us.

                So you think once the corporation goes bankrupt, the victims are supposed to bear the cost of the corporation’s actions? Society? Who, if not the owners? Your stock might be worthless, but your obligations as a *business owner* means that you are next in line to pay the cost of the damages, unless you can find the responsible party and make them pay. If you are risk averse, maybe you should either purchase liability insurance based on the market value of your liability to protect your property from your investments like proprietors do, or quit investing in businesses and find safer forms of investment.

  23. issues where fairness is deemed more important than efficiency

    “Fairness” as defined (and deemed) by you, of course.

    But we’re the simpletons.

    1. The problem is you assume human beings are simpletons, and only by their undirected market interactions can good outcomes emerge. Ironically this market faith is based on the (incorrect) assumption that humans are rational actors in all things.

      Rational people are capable of determining what things they need and want collectively that the market won’t provide. That’s the entire reason they form governments. Everyone won’t agree, but that’s as true of a group of 10 people trying to get along as it is 100 million.

      1. What, exactly, is the problem with irrational behavior bringing negative consequences for the individual involved? If the government’s purpose is to defend us from the irrational and abusive actions of others, your philosophy does a horrid job of it, since I now have to pay for the homes, businesses and debt of the irresponsible, as well as welfare for many people who are not trained to act rationally in our failed public schools and who are paying the consequences for their own poor life decisions. (Because I know your fallacious nature, I must point out that I am in favor of successful public schools that teach students to act rationally in markets and subsistence welfare for the handicapped who are unable to work.)

        As long as fraud laws are enforced, a free market rewards rationality and responsibility – and rightly so.

        1. No it doesn’t always. See: tragedy of the commons.

          1. Most libertarians are against the idea of “commons” existing for that very reason.

            1. Re: Jim,
              Besides that, Tony totally misunderstands and misapplies the concept.

              1. Besides that, Tony totally misunderstands and misapplies the concept.

                A totally unexpected turn of events!

            2. You can’t base your worldview on wishing a way a fact of the universe. The tragedy of the commons says that people acting in their rational self-interest will completely deplete resources or otherwise fail to plan for their long-term rational self interest. This isn’t about public parks.

              1. That’s not what the Tragedy of the Commons says at all. Well, sort of. The reason it’s called “Tragedy of the COMMONS” is because it’s a theory which advocates privatization, because nobody has personal incentive to take care of commonly (socially) held resources like they would if they were personally responsible for it.

                You should check your theories out before posting them; TotC seems like the opposite of what you usually want (it advocates complete privitization of all resources).

              2. Tony|3.24.11 @ 7:28PM|#
                “The tragedy of the commons[…]This isn’t about public parks.”

                You ignoramus, that’s *exactly* what it’s about.
                Stupid asshole…………

      2. Tony has convinced me that it’s little more than a Turing test, stringing random clumps of words together in the hope that rudimentary ideas will arise.

        1. He’s the most advanced gay robot since C-3PO.

          1. That’s a very unkind comparison…to C-3PO

      3. So, Tony, people are irrational when they buy shit, but rational when they form governments and make the “big decisions.”
        Is that it?
        Got it.

        1. People are both in all situations.

          1. Re: Tony,

            People are both in all situations.

            Up is down.

      4. “The problem is you assume human beings are simpletons…”

        Actually this is the statist belief. We’re all so stupid and morally backwards, that without a state telling us exactly what to do, and how and when to do it, we’d all devolve into morlocks within 3 weeks.

      5. Re: Tony,

        The problem is you assume human beings are simpletons, and only by their undirected market interactions can good outcomes emerge.

        Up is down.

        Market interactions exist because of people’s ability to act purposefully. Simpletons do not a market create.

        And RC Dean is correct – today seems to be Economics Illiteracy Day.

        1. But there’s absolutely no evidence that individuals acting in their immediate self-interest (even if totally rational, which it’s not) will result in providing common goods and services. To think it does is magical thinking. To not care, to think there should be no such thing as common interests, is to misunderstand how humans live.

          1. “To not care, to think there should be no such thing as common interests, is to misunderstand how humans live.”

            Don’t tell that to any of the tribal groups, some of whom, like the Celts, formed wide-ranging civilizations completely without the use or presence of the state. Humans are perfectly capable of self-organization and existence outside a state structure. Unless you’re advocating the Caesar line that the Gauls were really much better off once a state was brutally imposed upon them.

            1. Shit, tell that to the freaking American indians, who had a state come and crap on them, when they existed on their own for thousands of years without one. I just…I’m astounded at your lack of ability to imagine any world outside of a state structure.

              I bet you liked the movie ‘Dances With Wolves’. Guess what? It’s the opposite of what you want. It’s a man escaping a state in order to live in a self-regulating community that organizes itself as they see fit.

              1. If you can apply stateless forms of cooperation to modern highly-populated communities, I’d be interested in hearing about what you come up with. To me, states are the natural result of large numbers of people connected by modern technology regulating their interaction with each other in order to achieve the maximum of peace. You guys fairly universally see the state as an alien force imposing itself on you. But even if you reject social contract theories, you have to have some alternative that applies to the modern world that passes the laugh test.

                1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 8:08PM|#
                  “…To me, states are the natural result of large numbers of people connected by modern technology regulating their interaction with each other in order to achieve the maximum of peace.”

                  To you, up = down.

                2. “To me, states are the natural result of large numbers of people connected by modern technology regulating their interaction with each other in order to achieve the maximum of peace.”

                  Then please advise on the Roman conquest of Celtic Europe. The state in that instance was NOT an organic outgrowth of Celtic civilization (society and the state are NOT the same thing). It WAS an alien entity (Rome) imposed, brutally, upon unwilling people. They knew what Rome offered (they’d lived next to them for centuries), rejected it, and were slaughtered in the name of your “natural result”.

                  For a more recent example, again, see North America. A state did NOT arise organically amongst these people; they had a civilization, but not an authoritatian enforcement mechanism. The state was quite literally 1) alien, and 2) hostile when it appeared, and then it proceeded to destroy them all. Hell, the Indians outnumbered the settlers on the plains, yet the State still appeared, amongst the FEWER people, and attacked the MORE NUMEROUS people (in answer to your thought that the state is necessary due to numbers). Shit, the European colonial powers imposed the State upon tribal populations all over Africa and Asia which outnumbered them. It is NOT needed due to numbers, as you suggest.

                  1. You’re right of course. States can do bad things. But even with all the horror states have perpetrated, it still beats anarchy. As evidence, I present the total lack of functioning anarchies anywhere on the planet.

                    Ideally a state should be democratically accountable and respectful of the sovereignty of other states and the basic rights of other people.

                    1. Until, of course, the people vote otherwise. Will you go meekly to the gas chamber if your “supermajority” votes to liquidate the gays? It’s not an outrageous thought; that is still a crime in some benighted lands.

                      I do not believe anarchy means what you are thinking it means. It is not a war of all against all; it is groups of people who voluntarily form communities according to the rules which seem best to them, and which any individuals are free to leave at any time.

                      And anarchy is all around you. Every time you buy something from a vendor, without the government forcing you to & without paying taxes (think cash transactions at a faire), you are participating in anarchy (in a very small way). But to use your ridiculous assertion that because something doesn’t exist it must be horrible, I assume you believe it is best to have poverty, since there is not a single poverty-free nation on earth.

                    2. You guys keep throwing this “exterminate the gays” thing. If a supermajority wanted to do this and the state had the means, what’s gonna stop them? The superiority of my moral position? What is good or bad in the abstract is irrelevant. You have to hope the people make the right choices. But not giving them rule over their own policies means something or someone else has it.

                    3. “But not giving them rule over their own policies means something or someone else has it.”

                      You are EXACTLY right. Welcome to the anti-gov’t side! I want the gov’t to cede control of my own policies back to me, instead of keeping the control for itself.

                      And as to the “exterminate the gays” thing, I was asking, would you go meekly, or would you fight? Frankly I find your fatalistic “who’s going to stop them?” approach horrific. If anyone tried to do that to you, or to any category of people, I personally would stop them, with my several weapons, until such time as they brought force sufficient to subdue me. But I promise you, I’m not the only one with guns and a taste for freedom.

                    4. “As evidence I present a scenario that the violence of the state has made impossible

                      Well done, sir.

                    5. In prehistory (I’m talking caveman days) we had anarchy, or something very similar to it. States arose after humans developed the technology to make them possible: weapons. States are the majority now because they were better at organizing those weapons than non-states.

                      Don’t count anarchies out just because states don’t tolerate them long enough to work.

                3. “You guys fairly universally see the state as an alien force imposing itself on you.” (What’s with the obtuse verbiage?)

                  So…a man with a gun, demanding protection money, to be spent as his gang pleases, is a totally natural occurrence, proper to human beings. Because when you strip away the formal trappings, fancy logos, and ionic columns, a state is basically a big gang controlling a lot of turf.

                  1. The first sentence of the second paragraph should end with a question mark.

          2. Tony|3.24.11 @ 7:37PM|#
            “But there’s absolutely no evidence that individuals acting in their immediate self-interest (even if totally rational, which it’s not) will result in providing common goods and services.”

            Bull…………
            shit.
            Your ignorance is nearly beyond reckoning.

            1. If by common goods and services, he means a social safety net and that sort of thing, of course they won’t. If he means an infrastructure, of course they will.

              Rational people are not short sighted.

      6. “The problem is you assume human beings are simpletons, and only by their undirected market interactions can good outcomes emerge. Ironically this market faith is based on the (incorrect) assumption that humans are rational actors in all things.”

        Replace “market” with government and you’ve got a pretty useful critique of your own view.

  24. The problem is you assume human beings are simpletons, and only by their undirected market interactions can good outcomes emerge. Ironically this market faith is based on the (incorrect) assumption that humans are rational actors in all things.

    WTF? Get your story straight, Sherlock.

  25. Rational people are capable of determining what things they need and want collectively that the market won’t provide. That’s the entire reason they form governments.

    Let me help you with that, Cletus.

    Rational people are capable of determining what things they need and want collectively that the market won’t provide collectively want to force other people to provide for them. That’s the entire reason they form governments.

    1. Except rational people use arguments, not guns.

  26. “But the free market does not know anything unless we all collect our interests and say: This is of national import to us.”

    Fuck you, Tamara Draut, you corporatist twat.

  27. But it’s the welfare queens that the right hates. As hideous as welfare is in its effects, I will feel resentment against welfare mom’s when millionaire and billionaires with a direct line to DC stop gorging themselves at taxpayer expense. I mentioned this before, but I have to ask, how many of those who have thrived so conspicuously in our current, corrupt system would do the same under a truly libertarian regime.

    1. From a political standpoint, the problem is that welfare for the elite and the megacorporations is widely seen as “productive” (trickling down to the poor/middle class via jobs and/or cheaper products) and therefore somewhat uncontroversial. The moral and economic hazards of this subsidization and obvious injustice of routing money directly from poor to rich or from the profits of small business to their larger competitors has to be pointed out to convince people of the system’s repulsiveness.

  28. The “Unicorns And Pixies” quote of the year:

    (From Tony – who else?)

    Hopefully competent directors of such government programs would pay attention to the outcomes.

    Economics illitarate here does not seem to realize that nobody can measure these outcomes outside market prices, as all possible outcomes taken into account all paths can generate numbers that can stretch the universe. The USSR tried it; the Chinese tried it…

    I suppose your hazard is theoretically possible, but at least government can direct resources in the direction of goals other than increasing the quarterly bottom line

    This stupidity stems from a simple moralistic spin that Tony gives to profit-seeking. The fact is that no government person is clever enough to figure out where to allocate resources in the most economically efficient way. Again, the USSR tried it; the Chinese tried it… The reason is that the combination of all possible outcomes (What, where, how, when) can make numbers that can stretch the known universe. Nobody can do it.

    The only mechanism that can allocate resources is precisely the market system through prices and profit-seeking.

    […] which I think anyone with any sense would say isn’t adequate [profit-seeking] to motivate everything the world needs.

    Again, naivette and ignorance. Tony, you’re very good at showcasing both.

    1. no government person is clever enough to figure out where to allocate resources in the most economically efficient way.

      Nobody is asking them to. They are asked to allocate resources according to the interests of the people. The whole point is that the allegedly efficient way the market allocates its resources is not adequate to provide for everything humans need and want. The least efficient thing I can think of is the armed forces. But we pay for it because we need/want it and because the market either will not provide it or won’t provide an acceptably accountable alternative.

      1. Which is to say, the market won’t provide it unless the government buys it, in which case it will provide it (via Boeing, Lockheed, etc.). Government is just another customer in the market. It’s there to make the people’s demands market demands.

        1. “It’s there to make the people’s demands market demands.”

          Why can’t the people make their demands on the market themselves, without a massive, bloated, expensive, inefficient middle-man?

          1. Your adjectives are opinions, not facts. In many areas government provides certain things more efficiently than the market could (especially things meant to be universal like education, armed forces, and healthcare).

            Leaving that aside, the market won’t respond to the collective democratic will of the people. In the market some players are more equal than others. In government, at least in theory, everyone has an equal say over all policies that affect everyone regardless of how much money you have. People have the right to cooperate in this way. People can have demands outside of market demand.

            1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 8:04PM|#
              “In many areas government provides certain things more efficiently than the market could (especially things meant to be universal like education, armed forces, and healthcare).”

              Bullshit. It does nothing of the sort. We tolerate the failures of government in providing the common defense, since we’ve yet to find a better way.
              Regarding your other ‘examples’, they can only be cited by someone as willfully ignorant as you.

              1. Which is to say, it’s the most efficient way of providing the armed forces that we’ve found, or exactly what I said. Since you cannot point to any place on earth where private education or healthcare is delivered universally without government subsidy, the burden of proof is on you, and you will fail to meet it.

                1. “Since you cannot point to any place on earth where private education or healthcare is delivered universally without government subsidy…”

                  I don’t need to point this out, because you’re begging the question by starting from the premise that it is accepted that universal healthcare is a right, when in fact, it is not (going by the concept of negative v. positive rights).

                  I think my adjectives (opinions) about the gov’t are far less subjective than yours about what should be required to be universally supplied.

                  1. Jim that’s true. You don’t have to value universal education or healthcare. I think it is pretty clear that they lead to more access to freedom for more people, but you’re under no obligation to agree. But they are rights if they are secured as such by governments via the will of the people. That would be just another policy you disagree with. There are plenty I don’t like too, but I don’t question their legitimacy as a result, because it’s not all about me.

                    1. So your position is, if the government can take it, it can take it legitimately. Because I can see no other way to read this.

                2. “Since you cannot point to any place on earth where private education or healthcare is delivered universally without government subsidy, the burden of proof is on you, and you will fail to meet it.”

                  Actually the burden of proof remains on you: you have yet to prove the fact that universal healthcare and education are things we are morally obligated to provide. And you’re not going to prove that. Because you can’t. Because it isn’t true.

            2. Tony|3.24.11 @ 8:04PM|#
              “…In government, at least in theory, everyone has an equal say over all policies that affect everyone regardless of how much money you have….”

              In fantasyland, unicorns poop gold nuggets, too.

            3. My prepositions may be opinions, but the other parts of speech are absolute facts. Well, except the adverbs, those are obviously lies.

              1. I think he meant to write objectives. See where public schools are going?

            4. “especially things meant to be universal like education, armed forces, and healthcare”

              OK, we don’t have a great comparison for the armed forces, but that aside, have you lost your damn mind? You’re picking out two of the three most bloated and inefficient markets, which government just happens to have their hands in more than just about any other market, and parade them as paragons of efficiency??? REALLY?

              Why don’t we just go for the trifecta and let you tell us how the regulatory hand of god and government makes the housing market efficient too.

        2. Tony|3.24.11 @ 7:34PM|#
          “Government is [….] there to make the people’s demands market demands.”

          Truly, one of the most ignorant comments imaginable.
          This from someone of supposed education; someone who presumably read at least some of the history of the 20th century.
          And demonstrates a total, complete lack of comprehension.

          1. Do you ever say anything?

            1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 8:42PM|#
              “Do you ever say anything?”

              People who can read seem to think so. You should try some remedial classes.

              1. Sevo, will you teach me the remedial English?

      2. Economically efficient and in the best interest to the people are so similar that is difference is negilible to anyone. No exceptions for you, Tony. If something isn’t benifiting people, it’s not being used effieciently.

        1. Stupid English alphabet… there should seriously be a spellcheck or something on these comment boxes.

  29. Wow, OK that looks like it might just actually work!

    http://www.real-privacy.it.tc

  30. One exception to keeping government entirely out of high speed rail is that government has an eminent domain ability which business does not have. Giving the railroad barons right of waywas more than enough economic incentive to make Railroads work (and with current diesel prices, Private railroads are still great for freight, & the fiber optics that run the internet).

    If GE or another group wants to build High Speed rail to compete with airlines (which the TSA has crippled), work with them on a map & right of ways, then see what they build. Before you hate though, don’t forget your interstates are both constitutional and heavily subsidized entities.

    1. SpecKK|3.24.11 @ 7:27PM|#
      “One exception to keeping government entirely out of high speed rail is that government has an eminent domain ability which business does not have.”

      And you find this to be a ‘feature’?!
      Sorry, try HuffPo.

  31. “In his speech at the opening ceremony, Mr. Koch warned that government spending cuts could impede cancer research. And he urged donors to fill the gap.

    “The National Institutes of Health, and the National Cancer Institute in particular, are facing serious cutbacks in their funding due to the massive deficits the federal government is incurring,” he said in his speech, in a tent outside the seven-story building. “If the cutbacks happen, it will significantly diminish the level of research that can be carried on at the Koch Institute. I earnestly ask you to do all you can to help maintain the superb research at the Koch Institute at its maximum level.” ”

    Damn that rent-seeking David Koch and having accepting Government grants for his Cancer research institute. Jesus Christ, you guys are silly at times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05koch.html

    1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 8:18PM|#
      “..Jesus Christ, you guys are silly at times.”

      Holy cow, you brain-dead ignoramuses are stupid almost all the time.
      See any posts here claiming sainthood for the Kock family?
      You’re very fortuate that strawmen don’t fight back.

      1. No, the point is that arguing against funding for cancer research in any form, whether it is Government grant, private donation, or profit seeking companies is silly. Who the fuck cares where the money comes from if the goal is to produce something worthwhile? I’d take blood money if it meant that the cure for cancer is that much closer. And In before cries of fucking statist.

        1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 8:32PM|#
          “No, the point is that arguing against funding for cancer research in any form, whether it is Government grant, private donation, or profit seeking companies is silly. Who the fuck cares where the money comes from if the goal is to produce something worthwhile?”

          In which case, you’re dumber yet. How about your fave ’cause’ was funded by, oh, armed robbery?

          1. Is this another ‘taxes are robbery’ allegory?

            And yeah, if my fave ’cause’ at the time was say, armed robbery, I would be more than okay with it.

            1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 8:45PM|#
              “And yeah, if my fave ’cause’ at the time was say, armed robbery, I would be more than okay with it.”

              Of course you would; you’re a brain-dead ignoramus.

              1. Sevo. If I could rob you right now, I would. Because at the moment, you are my favorite ’cause’.

              2. Sevo. If I could rob you right now, I would. Because at the moment, you are my favorite ’cause’.

                1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 8:53PM|#
                  “Sevo. If I could rob you right now, I would. Because at the moment, you are my favorite ’cause’.”

                  And if you tried, you’d have to be carried away, asshole.

                  1. That sounds like corrosive behavior to me, sevo. Didn’t know you were such a fan of authority.

                    1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:14PM|#
                      “That sounds like corrosive behavior to me, sevo. Didn’t know you were such a fan of authority”

                      Just try it, asshole. My “authority” is self-defense from sleaze-bags like you.

                    2. I’m very confused. You’re the one who wishes to get robbed.

                    3. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:30PM|#
                      “I’m very confused”

                      I’ll say.

        2. Who the fuck cares where the money comes from if the goal is to produce something worthwhile?

          Because profit-seeking investors are much more likely to direct funding toward the most effective researchers than government is. While NSF and NIH aren’t very politicized, and usually seem to try to direct funding towards effective researchers, they do tend to favor people with connections to the agency.

          While I don’t think it’s constitutional, federal funding of scientific research is way down on the totem pole of things that need to be cut IMHO.

          1. Because profit-seeking investors are much more likely to direct funding toward the most effective researchers than government is.

            Bullshit bullshit bullshit. You don’t get to base this nonsense claim on a pathetic attempt to paint the NSF as biased. You think for-profit outfits aren’t biased?

            Government funds basic research, which private corporations don’t do as much. They research things that will make profits. That doesn’t always allow for large investments in basic research. So government steps in here, and as long as it’s real science, as 4chan said, who cares? Basic research is the backbone of private R&D. There’s not a modern advancement you can name that would exist without government funding at least some of the science behind it.

            1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 8:47PM|#
              “Because profit-seeking investors are much more likely to direct funding toward the most effective researchers than government is.

              Bullshit bullshit bullshit.”

              Says the other brain-dead ignoramus.

            2. Define “modern”. If we can go back before the intrusion of the state into everything, I’d say it’s a safe bet there were quite a few inventions in the 19th century which were not state-funded.

            3. From that well known libertarian news outlet, CBS News:

              A CBS News analysis of data released Wednesday by the American Cancer Society reveals a large disparity in funding for different types of cancer.

              For every cancer death, the most federal research dollars were spent on cancer of the cervix ($18,870) and breast ($14,095) and on Hodgkin lymphoma ($12,791). The least funded were cancers of the stomach ($1,168), lung ($1,553), and esophagus ($1,542).

              One reason for the disparity – some advocacy groups, like those for breast cancer, are more adept at raising awareness. And with awareness comes cash.

              “It’s clear that some of the gender related cancers are very effective in raising funding for research,” said Dr. Raymond DuBois, provost at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

              1. Yep lobbying gets results. So where are all the corporations doing more equitable research into cancers?

                1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 9:09PM|#
                  “Yep lobbying gets results.”

                  But, ignoramus, you assured us that governments are ‘fair’.

                2. You really are a douche, Tony.

                  From 8:47,

                  Bullshit bullshit bullshit. You don’t get to base this nonsense claim on a pathetic attempt to paint the NSF as biased.

                  1. But whatever biases government funded research has is no excuse for eliminating it. Maybe it should be reallocated more efficiently. There’s always room for improvement. But what makes X corporation the most profits is certainly no way to do science.

                    1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 9:23PM|#
                      “But whatever biases government funded research has is no excuse for eliminating it.”

                      Response from truly ignorant:
                      “The fact that is doesn’t work is no reason we should stop spending your money on it”.
                      I keep thinking there is some ‘bottom’ to Tony’s ignorance, and I keep being corrected.
                      Seems it’s passed the event horizon and is now spiraling into a black hole.

                    2. Maybe it should be reallocated more efficiently.

                      All together now: “We just need the right people in charge.”

                      But what makes X corporation the most profits is certainly no way to do science.

                      Why not? It’s the way you get food on your table and clothes on your back.

                      And in any case, if you want pure research to be funded, nothing’s stopping you from contributing to a nonprofit that funds such stuff. Again, the fundamental problem is that you want to spend other people’s money.

                    3. “We just need the right people in charge.”

                      Better than the wrong people. You think nobody in charge is a viable alternative? Good luck with that. Hope you have the biggest gun.

                      Why not? It’s the way you get food on your table and clothes on your back.

                      What is profitable–in the capitalist sense–from figuring out the origin of the universe, or diseases, or any of the other complex, expensive scientific work going on? You don’t think we’d be woefully underserved if science were left to for-profit concerns?

                      Again, the fundamental problem is that you want to spend other people’s money.

                      So do you, just for fewer things maybe.

                3. “Yep lobbying gets results”

                  What results? We still don’t have a cure, do we. Or are there great, government-made treatments I’m not aware of?

            4. And of course, government funding of research discourages private funding of similar research since there’s no point in spending money on what the government’s going to do for “free” anyway.

              Paradoxically, the more effective NSF and NIH are, the more of an adverse effect on private funding appears. If they were mostly funding stupid, pointless research the private interests would probably increase funding for effective research.

              1. This sounds pretty fishy to me. If the private sector were interested in funding basic research, you’d think it would pay attention to what government is ignoring and pick up the slack.

                1. Tony|3.24.11 @ 9:10PM|#
                  “This sounds pretty fishy to me.”

                  To an ignoramus who believes up = down, facts are *always* ‘fishy’.

                  1. You keep on using that word, I am not sure you know what it means.

                    1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:17PM|#
                      “You keep on using that word, I am not sure you know what it means.”

                      Well, you and Tony pretty much make the definition obvious.

          2. Except you’re not just looking for the most effective route to produce something. You’re looking for a route that is successful that produces the end goal.

            If you(and by you, people who benefit by the cure/product/what have you) need X to happen, I really don’t care what deals you have make to get there, as long as you get there on a reasonable time or amount.

            1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 8:52PM|#
              “..If you(and by you, people who benefit by the cure/product/what have you) need X to happen, I really don’t care what deals you have make to get there, as long as you get there on a reasonable time or amount.”

              So, if ‘you’ benefit by it, why the hell with anyone who might prefer other benefits, right?
              Are you truly ignorant enough to presume that funding your fave cause is so important that others can, well, just starve to make sure *you* are pleased?
              Are you truly egotistical enough to make that claim?

              1. You’re arguing way past me, rounding the circumference of the equator, and then past yourself reaching back to me.

                Its not about the ego, its about understanding in the current setup, some things are going to be emphasized over others. (No, this is not an fucking argument for subsidizing this pet project over another pet project, at best its an acknowledgement of it.)

                I’m just not getting my fucking panties in a knot over it.

                I’ll say this, you’ll probably advance the cause of Libertarianism more by not acting like a douchebag over cancer research.

                1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:12PM|#
                  “You’re arguing way past me, rounding the circumference of the equator, and then past yourself reaching back to me.”
                  IOWs, taking you at your word, asshole.

                  “Its not about the ego, its about understanding in the current setup, some things are going to be emphasized over others. (No, this is not an fucking argument for subsidizing this pet project over another pet project, at best its an acknowledgement of it.)”
                  So it is *exactly* that.

                  “I’m just not getting my fucking panties in a knot over it.”
                  And threatening to rob me is, well, a ‘casual’ response?

                  “I’ll say this, you’ll probably advance the cause of Libertarianism more by not acting like a douchebag over cancer research.”
                  I’ll say you could advance brain-deadism more by not acting like a douchebag in general.

                  1. But sevo, you make it so easy to bring out that inner douchebag.

                    Look, if you’re going to argue like you’re been doing, expect somebody to troll the living daylights out of you from time to time.

                    Seriously, “are you in favor of robbing somebody to advance your cause?”

                    Come on, if you were actually expecting a serious answer to that, yeah, that’s not happening. Try something else next time.

                    1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:29PM|#
                      “But sevo, you make it so easy to bring out that inner douchebag….”

                      Poor, poor 4chan. Called on his bullshit and now trying to backpeddle.
                      Go away, sleazebag. We already know you favor armed robbery for your benefit.

                    2. Backpeddle what?

                      And know this sevo, I don’t normally rob people, but I’ll gladly make an exception for you. You’re just that special of a person. They’ll write fucking ballads of the event, sung by the best balladeers of our generation. Heck, we might just get a show on Broadway, hopefully it’ll be Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Those guys would get it.

                    3. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:43PM|#
                      “Backpeddle what?

                      And know this sevo, I don’t normally rob people, but I’ll gladly make an exception for you. ”

                      Shithead, how often do you contradict yourself before you get dizzy.
                      Go away.

                    4. sevo, The only contradiction I have right now is for you is the one in my pants.

            2. But they haven’t, and there’s no reason to believe they will. I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve been hearing about how close researchers were to cures for cancer for my whole life. (Private investors are also much more likely to take funding away from researchers who don’t produce than govt agencies are.)

              1. “(Private investors are also much more likely to take funding away from researchers who don’t produce than govt agencies are.)”

                If you’re following what Gates is doing, you’ll be pleased.
                No funding without *results*!
                Gonna end HIV in Africa? Good! What are your metrics, what results will we see when?
                Buffet is a silver-spoon lib, but he at least saw what Gates is doing and spent his money there instead of turning it over the the government, regardless of his ‘we need higher taxes’ hypocrisy.

                1. I didn’t know that. Good for him on that aspect of his charitable giving.

                  Of course he also donates ungodly sums to Planned Parenthood, so he can go suck a fuck as far as I’m concerned in the big picture. (And I hate the fucking poodle that comes out when I search my desktop)

                  1. “Of course he also donates ungodly sums to Planned Parenthood, so he can go suck a fuck as far as I’m concerned in the big picture”

                    Not claiming sainthood for him, but I can’t gripe about this, either.
                    No, the world isn’t ‘overpopulated’ or anything of the sort. But there are families that could use a bit of education in having the number of kids they want instead of the number they get.
                    And no one “took” a penny from anyone for this to happen.

                    1. I really don’t have an issue with teaching people about birth control, it’s the promotion and performing of abortions that get my goat.

                    2. Tulpa|3.24.11 @ 9:34PM|#
                      “I really don’t have an issue with teaching people about birth control, it’s the promotion and performing of abortions that get my goat.”

                      I’m ‘anti-abortion’ and really don’t know anyone who is ‘pro-abortion’.
                      But I’m also willing to allow those who want an abortion to have one. So long as I don’t have to pay for it.

                    3. Are you willing to allow fetuses who wish to continue existing to do what they want too?

                    4. Tulpa|3.24.11 @ 11:05PM|#
                      “Are you willing to allow fetuses who wish to continue existing to do what they want too?”

                      Are you willing to prove fetuses *can* wish?

                    5. An unconscious person laying on the sidewalk is not currently capable of wishing to live either. That doesn’t give you license to dismember them.

                    6. Tulpa|3.25.11 @ 1:33AM|#
                      “An unconscious person laying on the sidewalk is not currently capable of wishing to live either. That doesn’t give you license to dismember them.”

                      You’re kidding, I hope. Someone sleeping probably isn’t either, but a temporary condition of a sentient being /= an argument about a non-sentient one.
                      You’re welcome to try again, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard ’em all, and they all sooner or later resolve to ‘my skydaddy said so’. And since I’m not superstitious, it won’t fly.

              2. Sure, by that same token, it also means that private investors are more prone to give up faster research secured by Governmental grants or private donations. Not saying that’s right or wrong. Just that at least for cancer research, there’s enough room for different types of funding. (and the consequences attached to those funding).

                Also, hopefully we are past the era of random naked people in bathtubs to sell ED drugs.

                1. 4chan|3.24.11 @ 9:21PM|#
                  “there’s enough room for different types of funding. (and the consequences attached to those funding).”

                  Fail.

                2. it also means that private investors are more prone to give up faster research secured by Governmental grants or private donations.

                  That’s the other side of the coin, yes, but it’s no worse than funding ineffective research for 30 years as NIH routinely does. Utopia is not an option; it may be that many types of cancer do not have possible cures, a sad possibility utterly neglected in most of these policy discussions. So we just throw more and more money at research and throw up our hands saying at least we tried. (This is a problem for private charities also)

        3. “No, the point is that arguing against funding for cancer research in any form, whether it is Government grant, private donation, or profit seeking companies is silly.”

          Sweet, then you won’t mind when I show up to your house later to seize all your wealth (both liquid and assets) in the name of cancer research. I mean who cares, right? It would be silly to oppose that.

    1. How much would you have to pay Stossel to shave his pornstache?

      1. THAT’S THE SOURCE OF HIS POWER!

      2. Can you imagine a Stossel-Tom Selleck tag team? It would be every middle aged woman’s mustachioed dream come true.

        1. Alex Trebeck & Sam Elliot 4-way (if Alex regrew it).

          1. Too many of them and the cost of mustache rides is going to plummet.

            1. I looked like an IDIOT commenting all by myself.

              Don’t wanna be… all by my-se-e-elf… anymore.

    2. I’m with you on this one Fist. Good show so far. I’d kill to work 1/4 of the year, for 6 figure income.

    3. I wonder what the “good news” is? I hope it’s that Jesus can save!

      1. Pffft, we still have freedom of speech? That’s alright news, I guess.

        1. Holy hell! Why didn’t you come over and liveblog with me?

          1. Ack, didn’t follow your link, I was just hanging out here hoping Tony would give me more fodder to fuel my rage (I need to go workout and that’s a good buildup).

            You know, after having read the Judge’s books, he seems a little more chummy w/ Ollie North & Karl Rove than I’d anticipate.

            1. I’m not currently watching the Judge shout things at me, but I think he’s pretty good to all his guests, even when he’s challenging them, it’s in a friendly fashion.

  32. REALLY! You mention RAIL! Come on, what about the 30 Billions that goes into roads? Plus all the local money going into roads! That is subsidy for every car company out there. What about the 60 billion to Oil companies. Is that not also to make driving cheaper? Why not mention corn subsidies? Artificially lowering corn prices so companies such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McDonalds(Corn-Fed/Corn Oil for Fries) make more profit, it goes on and on.

    “Left-wingers criticize corporate welfare until it’s for something they like?for example, “green technology.”

    Right wingers criticize corporate welfare when it supports the general welfare of its citizens! I mean I won’t even mention the possible connection of these wars in Iraq and Libya to Oil. Oops I did, You are an IDIOT SIR!

    1. Fuck corn. Give me soda with real sugar. I used to be a coke lover, but ever since Pepsi brought back throwback Pepsi (which has one of the oddest pricing structures, sometimes its the same price as regular Pepsi, sometimes its a couple of dollars more for the 12 pack). I realized how much better real sugar tastes.

      1. Dr. Pepper with real sugar is just about the only soda I want to drink anymore (although Pepsi Throwback was pretty good). Don’t know if I’ll ever go back to the corn syrup sodas.

    2. Andrew|3.24.11 @ 10:29PM|#
      “REALLY! You mention RAIL! Come on, what about the 30 Billions that goes into roads? Plus all the local money going into roads! That is subsidy for every car company out there.”

      Bull………….
      Shit.
      Roads would be paid for if the Feds didn’t steal money from the gas taxes to fund the worthless HSR.
      You are an IDIOT, sir.

      1. Please show your work.

        1. Please shut up.

          1. You made an assertion. You really should try to expand upon your ability to persuasively argue your point of view. Your inability to do so shows your lack of knowledge and sets the Libertarian movement back that much further.

            It also makes you look like an idiot. Either one.

            1. Please bite it, asshsole.

            2. I’ll bite…

              “Show your work”: Sweden – where most roads are in fact, private.

              …also, the history of every civilization on the planet might do, since roads generally predate governments by a wide margin. Strange thing about that… people who like to go to the same places regularly often like to make it easier and more efficient to get there by clearing a path and covering that path with some kind of material that doesn’t wear out, erode or develop ruts as quickly as dirt.

              Now, suck it.

    3. I don’t know about Stossel, but Reason has criticized oil and corn subsidies (along with many other varieties) time and time again. Road work is generally paid for by gasoline taxes, by the way.

      The feds subsidize and tax so many different things that you can’t expect every video to address them all.

    1. How insightful.

    2. Now how the heck are we supposed to know when he posted?

  33. ARF ARF ARF ARF SNIFF MY BUTT ARF ARF ARF ARF

    1. You are either high or an imitator. That this is the real Tony, sober, seems unlikely.

  34. We do not need high speed rail. We need a network of regular speed passenger rail.

    We don’t need taxpayers to foot the bill for this infrastructure project (private money can do it), however, federal taxes do go toward federal highways … so there is some hypocrisy here.

    1. Who is this “we”? I don’t need passenger rail. I prefer being able to go where I want to go when I want to go there, not when and whither the government says it’s OK for me to do so.

      Why don’t those of you who feel they need rail pay for it?

  35. I have one problem with the laissez faire argument and competition and that is that traditional businesses are protected from the cost of the harm they cause. For a level playing field, either you have to subsidise sustainable processes and projects -the easier option- or tax harmful activities (polluting processes, junk food etc.)- a much more complex option.
    If you can come up with a way of doing the latter, the former becomes unnecessary, but otherwise subsidies are needed to compete equally and incidentally they also create domestic employment.

  36. “I have one problem with the laissez faire argument and competition and that is that traditional businesses are protected from the cost of the harm they cause. “

    Well then… You’ve missed the laissez faire argument entirely.

    Businesses are not protected from the harm they cause at all in such an environment. In fact – they are MUCH more exposed to liability than they are now.

    The whole point is that businesses can do whatever they want, but they are responsible in full for any damages they cause to anyone else just as I am responsible for the damage I do to your house if I drive my car through your living room.

    No one gets special protection.

    1. Well then … you’ve missed my argument altogether. Corporations do not pay for damage caused by pollution to environment, buildings, people’s health etc. and when they are restricted by law they export it to other countries – China, Vietnam, etc. for their population to suffer (and work in sweatshops).
      They do not pay for the deaths and disease caused by alcohol, pharmaceuticals, processed foods etc. that is responsible also for certain aspects of crime. The only sector that has had to cough up for this is the tobacco industry – and probably not to the extent of their actual cost to society.
      It is the taxpayer who bears the cost in healthcare, policing, remedial education etc.
      As ever – as with the banks – the system allows them to privatise the profit and let the state/society to bear the risks. The financial sector is proof positive of how the private sector manages to make itself exempt.

      1. Easy solution there–stop turning things like deaths and diseases into externalities by making other people pay for them. Alcohol, fast food, etc. have “externalities” because the government has made it so.

        1. They have externalities because the government has allowed corporations to externalise the negative consequences of maximising profit – laissez-faire in other words

          1. Could you give me a concrete example of the government allowing, say, McDonald’s or Seagram’s “to externalise the negative consequences of maximising profit”? I’m just not sure we understand the concept of an externality in the same way.

            1. The food industry has been using cancerigenous transfats for decades – their rancid taste heavily disguised by also unhealthy levels of salt and sugars. This has helped producers maximise profits by making food processing cheaper and their products less perishable. The economic cost of the consequent obesity, general ill-health, cancers and death of consumers is not borne by the corporations responsible but by society as a whole including the state insofar as such consumers do not pay for their own medicare. In addition the environmental cost of (often excessive) packaging is not borne by the producers.
              Alcohol producers do not pay directly for the policing, crime, damage to property, family breakdown and health costs resulting from the sale of their products, though thanks to liquor taxes they do so indirectly. State intervention through taxation (and regulation of alcohol sales and consumption) in this case rectifies the externalisation of costs resulting from their business, though whether the taxes are sufficient to recover the true cost is debatable).
              Transfats are now gradually being banned around the world because their harmful effects have been recognised but there is no sign of the corporations that have been responsible being held to account.

              1. OK, that’s what I thought. “Externality” and “negative consequence” are not synonymous. If a person chooses to consume known carcinogens, that will have a negative effect on his own health, but it’s not an externality. It doesn’t become an externality until it has a cost borne by parties that did not agree to the transaction. If the government did not force others to pay for that individual’s medical care, there wouldn’t be any externality at all.

                As for holding the food industry to account–certainly if they knew they were doing something damaging, they are liable for damages. It’s called negligence. Courts can settle that.

                So the government hasn’t “allowed corporations to externalise the negative consequences”, it has created externalities where none would otherwise exist. In other words, it’s the government creating the externalities, not corporations.

      2. Corporations do not pay for damage caused by pollution to environment, buildings, people’s health etc.

        Of course not; the federal regulatory regime precludes civil remedies for all but the most egregious pollution. Big business and big government are lovers, not enemies.

        when they are restricted by law they export it to other countries – China, Vietnam, etc. for their population to suffer (and work in sweatshops).

        Right, because China and Vietnam have essentially no legal consequences for pollution. What system of government do those countries have again?

        And assuming the sweatshop workers haven’t been dragged from their homes and forced to work in the sweatshops, clearly the sweatshop work is more attractive to them than whatever other options they have to avoid starvation. If we make the sweatshops close they’ll be even worse off.

        1. Can’t agree with your last point – children in sweatshops means they are not getting an education- in the long term they’re worse off. It’s sounds as if you approve of exploiting poverty.

          As for China & Vietnam – Marxism co-opted by capitalism – a combination that must be making Karl spin in his grave!

          1. So, close the sweatshops? The children can get educated (maybe…but where? another issue) while they starve to death. In the short term they’re worse off.

            You know, the industrial revolution and the free market economy didn’t create child labor–they made it unnecessary for many, for the first time in history.

            1. What’s wrong with the alternative of paying them decent wages? And why should they starve to death – there’s enough wealth globally to feed everyone if it’s distributed more evenly – and that involves among other things not exploiting cheap labour. Boycott unethical businesses.

              1. What’s wrong with it is that neither you nor I are paying the wages. And again, assuming they are being forced to work there, it must more beneficial to them than the alternative, or they would not be doing it.

                Boycott away, dude, boycott away.

                1. “assuming they aren’t being forced”

                  …of course. “preview” ftw!

  37. Best government money can buy.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03…..f=business

  38. Well, it’s being “discussed”, so how’s all those brilliant ideas coming along there? What’s that? No ideas only insults and tirades? Why, what a surprise!! And I am accused of unwarranted pessimism; hah!

    1. Quit confusing pessimism with realism. Happened to me for years and I never enjoyed it.

  39. Just curious what rock John Stossel was under for the last decade or two, before he deicided to take on crony capitalism. Hasn’t he ever heard of the military-industrial complex which has been crony capitalism since the Eisenhower administration, or didn’t he ever study anything in college? Me thinks he doth protest too much, becuase it is now politically expedient for him!

  40. Stossel–most of the things you say about high speed rail could also be said of building, maintaining, and subsidizing roads and airports. (e.g., contractors selected because of lobbying, money comes from the public, subsidizing one form of transportation is favoritism, etc.). Please explain why roads are apparently special in your view.

  41. The only reason corporations and their lackeys want a totally free market, as envisioned by Milton Friedman, is because they think regulations are a hassle. They won’t turn away the money from the government because corporations and their lackeys are all about making money–no matter the source. Just look at WalMart or Apple as examples. WalMart is engaged in a deep economic relationship with a government that has sworn many times to blow us off the planet–the Communist Chinese. And many companies, such as touchy-feely Apple and Nike, use East Asian sweatshops–where a pair of Nikes can be made for $5 by 13-year-old girls worked 20 hours a day for 32 cents an hour. Some of the more “conservative” companies, such as Koch Industries, want to bring the sweatshop back to America and the only thing standing between them and that goal is the government.

  42. This movie has some nike sb skunk dunks for sale of the same flaws I saw in another attempt at a faithful adaptation of a work of fantastic literature long thought unfilmable, Zach Snyder’s 2009 version of Watchmen…That is, it kobe 7 for sale struck me as a series of filmed recreations of scenes from the famous novel

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