Minimum Wage

The State is No Friend of the Worker

Smashing the corporate state to free markets and workers

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The election season is upon us, and we're hearing the usual political promises about raising wages. Democrats pledge to raise the minimum wage and assure equal pay for equal work for men and women. Republicans usually oppose those things, but their explanations are typically lame. ("The burden on small business would be increased too much.") Some Republicans endorse raising the minimum wage because they think opposition will cost them elections. There's a principled stand.

In addressing this issue, we who believe in freeing the market from privilege as well as from regulation and taxes should be careful not to imply that we have free markets today. When we declare our opposition to minimum-wage or equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation, we must at the same time emphasize that the reigning corporate state compromises the market process in fundamental ways, usually to the detriment of workers. Therefore, not only should no new interference with the market be approved, but all existing interference should be repealed forthwith. If you omit that second part, you'll sound like an apologist for the corporatist status quo. Why would you want to do that?

The fact is that no politician, bureaucrat, economist, or pundit can say what anyone's labor is worth. That can only be fairly determined through the unadulterated competitive market process. Perhaps ironically (considering libertarians' individualism), it's a determination we make collectively and continuously as we enter the market and demonstrate our preferences for various kinds of services through our buying and abstaining.

If the market is free of competition-inhibiting government privileges and restrictions, we may assume that wages will roughly approximate worth according to the market participants' subjective valuations. This process isn't perfect; for one thing, preferences change and wage and price adjustments take time. Moreover, racial, ethnic, and sexual prejudice could result, for a time, in wage discrimination. (See Roderick Long's excellent discussion of the wage gap, "Platonic Productivity.")

The surest way to eliminate wage discrimination is to keep government from impeding the competitive process with such devices as occupational licensing, permits, minimum product standards, so-called intellectual property, zoning, and other land-use restrictions. All government barriers to self-employment — and these can take implicit forms, such as patents and raising the cost of living through inflation, or burdening entrepreneurs with protectionist regulation — make workers vulnerable to exploitation. Being able to tell a boss, "Take this job and shove it," because alternatives, including self-employment, are available, is an effective way to establish the true market value of one's labor in the marketplace. With the collapsing price of what Kevin Carson calls the "technologies of abundance" (think of information technology and digital machine tools), sophisticated small-scale enterprise — and the independence it represents — is more feasible than ever.

One thinker who understood how the worth of labor is determined in the market was the radical libertarian English writer Thomas Hodgskin (1787–1869). Hodgskin is often misunderstood. Wikipedia calls him a "socialist writer on political economy, critic of capitalism and defender of free trade and early trade unions." To the modern ear that will sound odd: a socialist critic of capitalism who defended free trade and unions.

Hodgskin is usually labeled a Ricardian socialist, but Hodgskin criticized David Ricardo while lauding Adam Smith. Moreover, socialism didn't always mean what it means today. In earlier times, socialist was an umbrella term identifying those who thought workers were denied their full just reward under the prevailing political economy. The remedy for this injustice varied with particular socialists. Some advocated state control of the means of production; others wanted collective control without the state; and still others — Benjamin R. Tucker most prominently — favored private ownership and free competition under laissez-faire.

What these self-styled socialists had in common was their conviction that capitalism, which was understood as a political economy of privilege for employers, cheated workers of their proper reward. By this definition, even an adherent of subjectivist and marginalist Austrian economics could have qualified as a socialist. (See my article "Austrian Exploitation Theory.")

By the way, Hodgskin used the word capitalist disparagingly before Karl Marx ever wrote about capitalism. As George H. Smith notes, Marx called the laissez-faireist Hodgskin "one of the most important modern English economists." It was not the first time the author of Capitalcomplimented radical pro-market liberals. He credited class theory to French liberal historians. (Marx then proceeded to mangle their libertarian theory.)

As a libertarian champion of labor against state-privileged capital, Hodgskin had much to say about how just wages should be determined. In his 1825 book, Labor Defended Against the Claims of Capital, he first noted that many goods are the product of joint efforts, which would seem to make it difficult to reward individual workers properly. He wrote,

Though the defective nature of the claims of capital may now be satisfactorily proved, the question as to the wages of labour is by no means decided. Political economists, indeed, who have insisted very strongly on the necessity of giving security to property, and have ably demonstrated how much that security promotes general happiness, will not hesitate to agree with me when I say that whatever labour produces ought to belong to it. They have always embraced the maxim of permitting those to "reap who sow," and they have maintained that the labour of a man's body and the work of his hands are to be considered as exclusively his own. I take it for granted, therefore, that they will henceforth maintain that the whole produce of labour ought to belong to the labourer. But though this, as a general proposition, is quite evident, and quite true, there is a difficulty, in its practical application, which no individual can surmount. There is no principle or rule, as far as I know, for dividing the produce of joint labour among the different individuals who concur in production, but the judgment of the individuals themselves; that judgment depending on the value men may set on different species of labour can never be known, nor can any rule be given for its application by any single person. As well might a man say what others shall hate or what they shall like.

Whatever division of labour exists, and the further it is carried the more evident does this truth become, scarcely any individual completes of himself any species of produce. Almost any product of art and skill is the result of joint and combined labour. So dependent is man on man, and so much does this dependence increase as society advances, that hardly any labour of any single individual, however much it may contribute to the whole produce of society, is of the least value but as forming a part of the great social task. In the manufacture of a piece of cloth, the spinner, the weaver, the bleacher and the dyer are all different persons. All of them except the first is dependent for his supply of materials on him, and of what use would his thread be unless the others took it from him, and each performed that part of the task which is necessary to complete the cloth? Wherever the spinner purchases the cotton or wool, the price which he can obtain for his thread, over and above what he paid for the raw material, is the reward of his labour. But it is quite plain that the sum the weaver will be disposed to give for the thread will depend on his view of its utility. Wherever the division of labour is introduced, therefore, the judgment of other men intervenes before the labourer can realise his earnings, and there is no longer any thing which we can call the natural reward of individual labour. Each labourer produces only some part of a whole, and each part having no value or utility of itself, there is nothing on which the labourer can seize, and say: "This is my product, this will I keep to myself." Between the commencement of any joint operation, such as that of making cloth, and the division of its product among the different persons whose combined exertions have produced it, the judgment of men must intervene several times, and the question is, how much of this joint product should go to each of the individuals whose united labourers produce it?

Observe Hodgskin's Austrian-style subjectivism: How much someone is willing to pay for a product "will depend on his view of its utility." (The way this fits with his labor theory of value is an interesting matter that we cannot take up today.)

How then does he propose that the wage problem be solved? Here's how:

I know no way of deciding this but by leaving it to be settled by the unfettered judgments of the labourers themselves. If all kinds of labour were perfectly free, if no unfounded prejudice invested some parts, and perhaps the least useful, of the social task with great honour, while other parts are very improperly branded with disgrace, there would be no difficulty on this point, and the wages of individual labour would be justly settled by what Dr Smith calls the "higgling of the market."

Thus free competition among industrious individuals, who ultimately are trying to serve consumers, is the only way to reveal the worth of labor services and products. This is both just and efficient. There is no way for a legislator or bureaucrat to divine the correct minimum wage or to decide if "equal work" is being paid equally. Only the free market process can discover this information.

"Unfortunately," Hodgskin added, "labour is not, in general, free." What keeps it from being free? The state, which serves special interests.

Hodgskin emphasized that labor includes "mental exertion":

Far be it, therefore, from the manual labourer, while he claims the reward due to his own productive powers, to deny its appropriate reward to any other species of labour, whether it be of the head or the hands. The labour and skill of the contriver, or of the man who arranges and adapts a whole, are as necessary as the labour and skill of him who executes only a part, and they must be paid accordingly.

Perhaps Marx should have read his Hodgskin more closely, and those who would legislate the level of wages today should read him for the first time. (I've also written about Hodgskin hereand here.) So-called progressives who look to the state to set wages do a disservice to those who fare worst in the corporate state, because while progressives work on behalf of measures that must price marginal workers out of the market, truly radical reforms are overlooked.

Rather than empowering our rulers further, let's empower individuals by freeing the market.

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

NEXT: Ward Farnsworth guest-blogging about his new book, 'Restitution'

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  1. Smashing the corporate state to free markets and workers

    That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.

    1. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  2. I know no way of deciding this but by leaving it to be settled by the unfettered judgments of the labourers themselves.

    Tell that to the assholes shrieking “War on women!” and and hammering the issue of pay sameness laws in their campaign ads.

  3. Perhaps ironically (considering libertarians’ individualism), it’s a determination we make collectively

    I believe Sheldon is confusing collective action with several action.

    1. More likely you are reading too much into his words while ignoring his thoughts. His meaning is quite clear.

      1. When I try and read Sheldons thoughts, all I get is a dial tone.

        1. I think you’re getting Sheldon mixed up with Suderman.

          1. Ted S.,
            They’re both more appropriate for a cult than a political movement.

  4. my co-worker’s mother makes $71 /hr on the laptop . She has been unemployed for 9 months but last month her payment was $17334 just working on the laptop for a few hours. published here

    —————-http://shorx.com/onlineatm

    1. That’s because she’s Worth it!

  5. This article has everything! Why, all the right words have been used…..like Red Meat for a hungry dog.

    “Smashing” – yeah, let’s smash it!

    “The Corporate State” – wow, I hate the State!

    “Free Markets” – creaming my pants right about now!

    “Workers” – wait, I’ll have to think about this because I am John Galt. Those workers are just human capital who have not measured up. What? you tell me I won’t have any employees cheap to work my schemes if I don’t profess love for workers? And, if I can’t convince them to vote and think against their own interests, I’ll be sunk? OK, OK, I love workers.

    Thanks, Reason writers, for the perfect story and perfect words. A few more mentions of “the state” and I’d be in Libertarian Heaven!

    1. You haven’t gone far enough with your analysis. Behind the capitalist conspiracy there’s the lizard people pulling the wires behind the scenes.

      1. hey dont use up ally our good conspiracy therioes. youre goingt o need them in a few days to explain whys uch obviously brilliant ideaa of yours get less than 1percent of the vote.

        1. They simple took the back seat to more pressing issues, like whether gays should be allowed to get permission slips from the state to call themselves married.

        2. Flaming Ballsack|10.26.14 @ 9:54AM|#
          “hey dont use up ally”

          And ASSHOLE gets help he so desperately needs.

      2. “the lizard people pulling the wires behind the scenes.”

        Doesn’t need much analyzing – everyone know the Koch’s are buying the words here…called “pulling the strings” by some…

        1. Yet sadly they haven’t gotten around to purging your useless screeds…

        2. craiginmass|10.26.14 @ 2:03PM|#
          …”everyone know the Koch’s are buying the words here…called “pulling the strings” by some..”

          Hey, ASSHOLE, more stupidity and lies!

        3. DUCK HEADINASS !!!!!

          LIBERTARIAN BOTTLE KIDS !!!!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLMbu8y8xAE

    2. BURN those straw men, craig!

    3. craiginmass|10.26.14 @ 9:45AM|#
      “This article has everything!”

      Hi, ASSHOLE! More stupidity? Oh, goody!

    4. headinass. I hope when things get bad enough from all the statist policies that you endorse, all the “Wage Slaves” as you like to call them, bust down the door to your McMansion in western Massachusetts, and give you the Hell you deserve. /end rant

  6. Where the fuck do these fucking fuck TROLLS keep fucking coming from?

    1. Slate, Huffington Post, Real Clear Politics.

    2. Trolls? I’d like to know what the Russian Prime Minister is doing promoting more oligarchy here?

      1. craiginmass|10.26.14 @ 2:02PM|#
        “Trolls?”

        Yes, ASSHOLE!

  7. Dream on, Sheldon. You think these CEOs and bought off politicians are going to go for a system where workers control what they makes and how much they get paid for it? Pul-leeze.

    1. american socialist|10.26.14 @ 11:54AM|#
      “Dream on, Sheldon.”

      Hi, dipshit! Heapin’ helpin’ of more lies from the left!

    2. “You think these CEOs and bought off politicians are going to go for a system where workers control what they makes and how much they get paid for it? Pul-leeze.”

      The same crony CEO’s, and politicians that benefit your lifestyle AMSOC. No wonder you hate the “Little People” just trying to advance themselves. God I hate trustafarian’s like you, Tony, and headinass.

  8. If you omit that second part, you’ll sound like an apologist for the corporatist status quo.

    What’s the matter, didn’t you like the other sweater I made you?

  9. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    You can try this out. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. And to think that with just a little more effort, she could’ve made $17334; now that‘s marginal value!

  10. In the USA (& possibly a few other countries) today, the labor movement, such as it is, is a rear-guard action undertaken very specifically to maintain the privilege of a dwindling few. They would not be interested in an anti-privilege labor movement. However, in much of the rest of the world, where the labor movement is still very much a going, and in some cases growing, thing, it might be possible to reorganize them along such lines.

    1. Don’t forget the Reagan Democrats, union workers almost entirely in the Rust Belt. Our very best-paid factory workers, the same workers most endangered today by Democrats (if their jobs even still exist). The same jobs mostly destroyed in the 1986 tax “reform.” They repealed the pro-investment policies of both Kennedy and Reagan, sending us back to the dreadful 17 years after WWII — when we had collapsed from the only industrial base still standing to “among the worst” in economic growth.

      Democrats literally destroy our best union jobs,creating the inequality they whine about … while Republicans punish job creation! We now have government of, by and for … Monty Python.

      1. What are you talking about? Reagan idiotic look the other way on illegal immigration and amnesty them, “guest” workers, and free trade did more to destroy the labor movement in the US than anything Democrats did.

        I do remember when all the whining by corporate execs in the 70s and 80s about needing give-backs the unions asked for the companies to open their books. Guess what, the management never did. I guess they didn’t wan’t the shareholders to see how they were being screwed by management.

        1. What are you talking about?

          History. Learn it here.

          more to destroy the labor movement in the US

          I talked about workers, not unions The labor movement was part of the mess we were in. In 1980, even Ted Kennedy — ever hear of him? — campaigned on “reindustrialization.”

          The economy was MUCH worse than Obama’s, higher unemployment, 21% Prime Rate, double digit inflation, a stock market still collapsing to -70% — yet we got the strongest boom of the century. Unemployment below 6% in only two years. First-term GDP growth of 12% vs Obama’s disgusting 3%.

          I do remember when all the whining by corporate execs in the 70s and 80s about needing give-backs

          Some memory! Carter was President in the 70s collapse!

          the unions asked for the companies to open their books. Guess what, the management never did.

          (lol) No shareholder reports???

          they didn’t want the shareholders to see how they were being screwed by management.

          Shareholders got screwed during the biggest market boom in history???

          You support unions over workers, ignore how Democrats destroyed our industrial base in 1986, with HIGHER TAXES on new investments in manufacturing equipment, DOUBLING the tax write-off from 8 years to 16 years, while our trade competitors were at FIVE years. THEY REPEALED EVEN KENNEDY’S INDUSTRIAL POLICIES!

          Shame on you.

          1. I was there and actually have a brain so I know what happened.

            I was there when illegal aliens were used to break the meatpacking unions, the construction unions, and the other service unions like the janitors in Los Angeles while Reagan looked the other way.

            I was around when the industrial unions were being asked for give-backs in the steel and automotive industries. Yes, the companies didn’t open their books. I was there when the the largest steel mill in the country was closed after management hadn’t put a nickel into it for 30 years and you you blame tax laws. You are a fool if you think a shareholders report is the same as opening the books.

            I was also there when Carter put Paul Volcker in as Fed chief and he was the one who ended the inflation by driving interest rates up to cause the recession that morons blame Carter for and hail Reagan for ending.

            I was also there when the semiconductor and PC industries matured and electronics expanded into every industry – something Reagan had nothing to do with and the real cause of the boom.

            I was also there when the bear market that started in 1966 ended because stock were so cheap that oil on the NYSE was cheaper than in the ground. The idea of buying a company for it’s assets soon spread to other industries – again something Reagan had nothing to do with other than looking the other way when crooks invaded Wall Street.

            1. I was there and actually have a brain so I know what happened.

              (lol) The same “brain” that claims Reagan was President in the 1970s?

              I was also there when Carter put Paul Volcker in as Fed chief and he was the one who ended the inflation by driving interest rates up to cause the recession that morons blame Carter for and hail Reagan for ending

              Ummm, you’re saying Reagan did not end what is still the worst recession since the 1930s??? (snicker) I shall again document your falsehood

              Many on the left claim the Reagan recovery was REALLY launched by the Fed. See for yourself. The recession ended in Nov, 1982. The Prime Rate was still well into double digits at 11.5%. Never dropped below double digits until June, 1985 — just shy of three years into the recovery — and did not see historic averages until December of 1991 (6.5%). Liberals lie, some are even psychotic about it.

              http://www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html

              http://www.fedprimerate.com/wa…..istory.htm

              I was also there when the bear market that started in 1966 ended because stock were so cheap that oil on the NYSE was cheaper than in the ground.

              There you go again. Reagan was not President until 1980 — and I’ve already proven that he inherited the worst bear market since the 1930s.

              Go bully somebody dumber than you, if possible.

              1. You really are a dumb twit with nothing in his head.

                Where did I say Reagan was President in the 70s?

                You however are stupid enough to think a recession created and ended by Volcker’s control of the interest rates was really ended by Reagan. How did he manage to do that, give another one of his empty vacuous speeches about “freedom” and “America”? I would have thought every Libertarian would have read Murray Rothbard on Reagan by now.

                Maybe you forgot that Volcker temporarily lowered interest rates near the end of Carter’s term and the recession ended then as well. That is why they called it a double dip recession. When it was obvious that inflation had returned he raised the rates again.

                What does the prime rate being 11% have to do with anything? Especially anything related to Reagan? The prime rate was much lower prior to Volcker using it to stop the inflation because it was being artificially held down like today. How does this have anything to do with with the President?

                As for the stuff about the stock market, you say absolutely nothing of value but assume Reagan must be responsible for it going up.

                So without Reagan T-boone Pickens wouldn’t have noticed that the major oil companies stock was priced so low that you could buy it all up cheaper then what their oil fields were worth at 40 dollars a barrel for proven reserves. Reagan must have told Pickens and his executives that.

              2. For you information Reagan wasn’t inaugurated until 1981. So what major legislation did he put into place from January 1981 to November 1982 – 20 months that ended the recession?

                You are the typical moron who thinks the President controls all the levers of the economy when in actuality they have little to do with it. At least I have enough brains to know that.

          2. Reagan did have an effect in the Thrift industry when he allowed crooks to take that over and gutted the regulation giving GHWB the S&L fiasco to clean up and the RTC to transfer wealth from the public to well connected people.

  11. This is fantastically well-written for libertarians.
    But almost totally useless as persuasion for voters. Preaching to the choir. Might that be why we’ve have a majority of Americans for nearly four decades and never achieved s damn thing (as a movement?)

    . Therefore, not only should no new interference with the market be approved, but all existing interference should be repealed forthwith. If you omit that second part, you’ll sound like an apologist for the corporatist status quo. Why would you want to do that?

    Puh-lease. How do we argue that? And how can silence make one an apologist for anything. That’s like saying unless we call for immediate repeal of all taxes we’re apologists for statism (or some such bullshit). Even Ayn Rand thought that was wacky. What does it say to be too extreme for Ayn Rand?

    Do we have a plan for governing? Or are we just another cult?

    1. “Do we have a plan for governing? Or are we just another cult?”

      Yes, we have a plan!

      1. Word surveys so that the proper (libertarian) result comes out on top.

      2. Take corporate and secret money to the max – brought to us by the recent SCOTUS decisions.

      3. Vote Republican…

      rinse and repeat. This gives us all our goals – getting paid to blog, voting in conservatives and patting ourselves on the back because everyone gives the right answers to the surveys!

      1. craiginmass|10.26.14 @ 9:09PM|#
        “Do we have a plan for governing? Or are we just another cult?”

        Hi, ASSHOLE! More lies from the left!

        1. Sevo these fucks use the word governing like they will be the one’s in charge.

          Lies indeed !!!

      2. Yes, we have a plan!

        Brainwash rank-and-file Democrats?

        Word surveys so that the proper (libertarian) result comes out on top.

        YES! The people LOVE Obamacare! They LOVE the worst economic recovery since FDR’s failures. It’s those tricky pollsters on the right.

        But wait, left-wing pollsters say the same. Even the New York Times sold out to the Kochs! (gasp)

        2. Take corporate and secret money to the max – brought to us by the recent SCOTUS decisions.

        1) Democrats are still the biggest spenders, including dollars STOLEN from union dues against the will of members.

        2) Washington State passed a law banning union dues from political contributions. WA teachers then had to sue their union to get their own money back!

        Google Buckley v Valeo. Learn how you’ve been conned. Corporate campaign contributions were ruled to be protected speech almost 40 years ago. Obama was called out as a liar on that by even the Pulitzer-winning Supreme Court reporter at … wait for it … the New York Times!

        No, corporations are not people. Their shareholders are. Houses aren’t people either, but THEIR owners are too.

        Most corporate stock is owned by workers (pension funds)! Capitalism ACHIEVED what Marx had promised, that workers would own the means of production.

        Any questions?

    2. “This is fantastically well-written for libertarians.
      But almost totally useless as persuasion for voters.”

      Michael Hihn. The biggest motivator that turns voters toward Liberty is Tyranny. (laughing) You ran for office as a politician.

      “Do we have a plan for governing? Or are we just another cult?”

      Mr. Hihn. By cult. I know you are referring to Mr. Molyneux.

      Honestly you should give us younger folk a lot more intellectual credit.

      1. Also. There is no “We”.

        1. Also. There is no “We”

          See? Mindless slogans instead of any substance.
          Proves my point!

          Thank you for playing …
          .

      2. The biggest motivator that turns voters toward Liberty is Tyranny.

        Well, Slick,

        1) Why has tyranny increased exponentially, after 40 years of libertarianism … with a majority of voters fiscally conservatives and socially liberal????

        2) Why is the libertarian label rejected by 85% of libertarians? (CATO/Zogby poll 2005)

        3) How does you making dumbass commnets on a comments page increase liberty?

        (laughing)

        (snicker) Wait for it …

        You ran for office as a politician.

        And I got elected. Twice! Two different states! Each with a specific platform of policy proposals … instead of anti-gummint slogans and vague references to liberty. Same tactics also launched and won a local tax revolt. (gasp)

        HIHN “Do we have a plan for governing? Or are we just another cult?”

        JPyrate. By cult. I know you are referring to Mr. Molyneux.

        We’re quite aware of how little you “know”.

        Honestly you should give us younger folk a lot more intellectual credit.

        I asked an open question. How “intellectual” must one be to know what a question is?

        (yawn) So, do you agree with me that libertarians should run on specific policy solutions or not?

        What’s our proposal for the economy?
        What’s our proposal for healthcare?
        For reining in government?

        1. (Laughing) You use collective words like (snicker) “We”, and (laughing) “Governing”.

          You are just as bad as our lefty trolls.

          You come across as an asshole. This is why no one voted for you. (laughing)

          1. JPyrate:You come across as an asshole.

            Nice hissy fit. These are what you’re running away from.

            (yawn) So, do you agree with me that libertarians should run on specific policy solutions or not?
            What’s our proposal for the economy?
            What’s our proposal for healthcare?
            For reining in government?

            Well, Slick,
            1) Why has tyranny increased exponentially, after 40 years of libertarianism … with a majority of voters fiscally conservatives and socially liberal????
            2) Why is the libertarian label rejected by 85% of libertarians? (CATO/Zogby poll 2005)
            3) How does you making dumbass commnets on a comments page increase liberty?

            Be a man. Defend your “positions” and skip the childish name-calling.

  12. The surest way to eliminate wage discrimination is to keep government from impeding the competitive process with such devices as occupational licensing, permits, minimum product standards, so-called intellectual property, zoning, and other land-use restrictions.

    What total drivel. No we don’t need to make sure medical devices and pharmaceuticals are safe and effective “let the market decide” and sue them if they are at fault.

    Telectronics implanted 44000 people with bad pacemaker wires before the first person died and the company was forced out of business and they sold all the assets to St Jude Medical with no liability for 160 million – gee 4000 dollars each for somebody with a time bomb in their chest.

    We already have a problem with China stealing intellectual property in this era of easy duplication and reverse engineering so yeah getting rid of intellectual property makes perfect sense in a world of 100s of millions of dollars to develop new products.

    Want to see a place without zoning laws – just visit any third world country.

    Libertarians be as dumb as you can be.

  13. MarklinLA:

    Telectronics implanted 44000 people with bad pacemaker wires before the first person died and the company was forced out of business and they sold all the assets to St Jude Medical with no liability for 160 million – gee 4000 dollars each for somebody with a time bomb in their chest.

    I’m glad that we have the government to make sure that things that have happened like that never happen like that.

    1. Maybe you aren’t aware how lax things are at the FDA. The FDA doesn’t tell you how to test your products. They just tell you you need a controlled process. The usually only come in after a major fuck up and shut you down.

      The company was in charge of the testing and produced an obviously inadequate life test of the product. However, what if there were no tests?

      Look at the statin drugs a lot of the side effects were hidden from the FDA as aberrations so that doctors were unaware of them when thier patients started showing up with them.

      But hey, not that many people lives were ruined and the execs all got bonuses and the MDs who prescribed the drugs got all expenses paid trips to vacation spots to “learn” about the latest updates in cardiology (if they were big prescription writers).

      Yeah, I would trust the “free market”.

      1. The FDA doesn’t tell you how to test your products. They just tell you you need a controlled process. The usually only come in after a major fuck up and shut you down.

        Oh, that’s bullshit.

        True story: I once had a socialist friend complain how evil the pharmaceutical companies are. He had a friend with a disease, but the treatment wasn’t approved by the FDA. If the company gave him the drug, they’d have to use him as a data point in their research. However, he also had organ damage. Therefore, if they gave him the drug, and he died of organ failure, it may suggest that the drug caused organ failure, and they’d have to deal with it and the FDA, on top of everything else. So, they decided only to give the drug to people without organ failure. His friend ended up dying of the disease.

        Then, he complained that the drug had already been tested to such a degree that everyone was sure it would have cured him, and he would probably have been fine.

        I pointed out that here we have a situation where the FDA is keeping a drug off the market, a drug that “everyone” apparently knows pretty well is safe and effective, and the company doesn’t want to include him in the FDA tests because of a preexisting condition that, if he dies, might keep the drug off the market even longer for more people. Perhaps the FDA had some culpability in his friend’s death, I asked him. “NO!” he said, angrily. But he didn’t talk about it after that. I think I know why.

        1. MarkinLA:

          The FDA doesn’t tell you how to test your products. They just tell you you need a controlled process. The usually only come in after a major fuck up and shut you down.

          You watch this and you tell me how lax the FDA is.

        2. Yes Bullshit is right. Your whole argument is bullshit. Those clinical trials are to determine if the drug should be put on the market. Giving it to unhealthy people would make it hard to determine what the side effects are so there is logic in it.

          I worked for device company. AT NO time do they ever tell us how to test the product. They don’t want the companies to try and push the liability on them when something goes wrong. Once the device passes the necessary clinical trials and can be sold they only care that our process is documented and monitored.

          In fact the companies were pushing Congress to make the FDA take the liability by creating a law that said once the FDA approved something they could no longer be sued. Luckily it didn’t go anywhere.

          1. Yeah, and all of medicine isn’t clinical devices.

            If you want to stay ignorant and pretend that the FDA just tells pharmaceutical companies to vaguely “use some controlled process”, then you don’t know what tou’re talking about. The FDA tells companies what kind of tests they want, how large the test groups need to be, what conditions satisfy considering a drug “effective”, and all of that goes into defining how long the drug stays off the market. For example, if a drug treats a condition that causes cysts in your liver after 10 years, and liver failure after 30 years, testing it to “prevent cysts” means 10 years, and to”prevent liver failure” takes 30. If you think the FDA just lets companies make the call, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you should seriously watch that video I linked.

            1. There is a difference between the manufacturing process and clinical trials. There is a lot of statistical analysis done to determine sample sizes which have become pretty standard and the use of double blind studies is standard for every approval. The FDA reviews the results of the clinical trials and determines if they have met a threshold of efficacy and safety and it is not the same for every drug.

              A dangerous drug may still be approved in limited cases if it is the only available therapy – there is no one size fits all.

              Do you really think letting executives with stock options who are protected from criminal prosecution by the corporation to be the best decider of what drugs should be available to the public?

              1. Yeah, I know the ostensible purpose and more of the FDA. This is covered in the video, but basically:
                1. Frequently the FDA requirements for efficacy are so stringent, arbitrary, and sample sizes so demanding, that it makes developing certain drugs and treatments in feasible to develop
                2. The future of medicine already invokes custom tailored drugs so target/patient specific that the old “give 1000 people the same drug double blind with placebo” doesn’t even make sense anymore, but we all have to wait for the FDA to learn how to approve outside of that rubric.
                i could go on. Basically, the video is a 1.5 hour debate on the proposition “the FDA’s caution is hazardous to your health.” 4 very smart people. Going into the debate, the audience was mostly undecided, but favoring against the propositon. By the time it was over, the propositon had over 50% audience approval. You should definitely check it out, if you’re up to evaluating the FDA beyond reading its stated goals.

      2. So, obviously the answer to a failure of government control and oversight is more government control and oversight.

        Are you fucking retarded?

        1. No but you are if you think the answer to companies fucking up so some execs can cash out their options is to have less government oversight.

      3. MarkinLA|10.26.14 @ 11:28PM|#
        Maybe you aren’t aware how lax things are at the FDA.

        So, you’re telling us that the FDA adds tens of billions of dollars to our pharmaceutical costs every single years, for which we get … nothing? Thanks for the warning, bro!

        P.S. It was Libertarians (the CATO Institute) who first reported how useless the FDA is … literally killing more people than it saves.

        P.P.S. Why does every other country in the world get better pharmaceutical outcomes (including fewer deaths) at a fraction of the cost?

  14. The state may be no friend of the worker but I don’t recall too many employers who are unless they are forced to be.

    1. MarklinLA:

      The state may be no friend of the worker but I don’t recall too many employers who are unless they are forced to be.

      I had an employer give me a few hundred K in stock for working less than 2 years. What forced them to do that?

      Maybe you should stop working at McDonalds, or whatever, and try something else.

      1. So did I but they didn’t do it because they wanted to. They did it because the top execs were stealing from the shareholders and they wanted to make it look like a company wide incentive program. In 5 years the CEO got 100 million for really just being in the right place. The lowest level people got about 3000 dollars worth over that 5 years.

    2. MarkinLA|10.26.14 @ 11:21PM|#
      The state may be no friend of the worker but I don’t recall too many employers who are unless they are forced to be.

      That’s the function of markets … to provide that force … which is why capitalist countries deliver much better wages and working conditions than socialist countries.

      Do you know that corporate stock is owned mostly by worker pension funds? It was Marx who promised that workers would own the means of production. But it was capitalism which delivered for the working man (and woman).

      Thanks for arguing the value of liberty.

      (I didn’t shriek and call you names either)

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