Capitalism

Why Capitalism?

Even under ideal conditions, socialism would still suck, says Georgetown's Jason Brennan.

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Jason Brennan
Reason TV

Jason Brennan, a professor of philosophy at Georgetown, is the author of the new book Why Not Capitalism?, which argues that capitalism works because of humanity's inherent lack of kindness and generosity. Reason TV's Rob Montz spoke with Brennan in June about human goodness, the flaws in socialism, and more. To see video of the interview, go here or view it below.

Q: Every college freshman in this country within one week of taking their first political theory class has said-as if they're the first person to ever think it-of course socialism is the best in theory. If we were able to scrub out some of the bugs of humans' programming that's precisely the kind of society that we'd want to set up for each other. Your book is a direct attack upon that idea.

A: What socialists are often missing is that we're not the Borg from Star Trek. We have private lives. We want to engage in private pursuits, projects of our own undertaking that we do by ourselves, not with others.

I like to say to my socialist colleagues: If you can understand why you wouldn't want to, say, write a philosophy paper with the collective or if you can understand why you'd like to paint a painting by yourself rather than having it done as a group project, you can understand why someone might find a kind of meaning in running a business by himself, or having a factory, or having a farm that's his rather than a collective farm.

Q: Can you explain socialism's "information problem"?

A: In order for us to have cooperation on a massive scale-cooperation on a scale of millions or tens of millions-we need some sort of signal that tells us what's going on in the economy. It turns out we get that signal in market societies and it's in the form of prices. We're all making all these private decisions and it modifies prices a little bit and then we respond appropriately. We don't know what's causing scarcity. We don't know what other peoples' desires are or demands are, we can just see that the price of strawberries is cheap over here and it's expensive over here and that tells me everything I need to know as a consumer about what to do. The problem with socialism on a mass scale is that they don't have a substitute for prices.

Q: In Washington, D.C., I do not think that there is a cabal of closeted socialists who want to bring about a Marxist revolution, but there is a very prevalent lighter version of the socialist conceit. A lot of these pundits have an ample number of Ivy League degrees, and they hang around with a lot of other smart people. They begin to operate under the assumption that it's just a matter of putting a couple key super-intelligent people in charge and they'd be able to see everything, hack it all, and figure out how to readjust the economic infrastructure of America.

A: In principle, there are cases where an omni-benevolent, omniscient dictator could come in and fix the market and make it better. It's rarely going to be the case in actuality that a person knows when and how to intervene. Given the limits of human knowledge, given the limits of peoples' ability, and also just given their biases and so on and the fact that they're likely to use this power selfishly rather than for our own good, I think it's better not to empower them to do these things.

Q: You debunk the idea that capitalism engenders or cultivates certain vices-that it actually actively rewards greed and predatory behavior.

A: The biggest cultural predictor that you will be trusting, trustworthy, generous, fair, and so on is the extent to which you come from a market-oriented society. People from traditional societies, from tribal societies, from non- or pre-market societies, and from socialist societies are not nice.

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  1. More “global warming” going on in New England too I see. Frim the ESPN shots it looks like it’s snowing like hell up there.

    1. Careful; someone is likely to yell at you for confusing weather and climate change.

      1. I’m afraid, Epi will blow up again, and make me scarred !!!

      2. “for confusing weather and climate change.”

        Or New England and the globe.

        1. mtrueman|11.2.14 @ 3:12PM|#

          “Or New England and the globe.”

          Hey, trueman! Is it all a lie? Just half of it? Which part are you lying about today?

          1. The New England part, naturally.

    2. No snow here in NH, but it looks like Maine is blanketed.

      1. I am happy the predicted snow didn’t show up here in NH.

        On the other hand, it is windy and chilly.

      2. It got down to 61 here last night. Brrr.

    3. The problem with using examples like these lies in the counter-examples, the unseasonably warm days. Not that I’m in the AGW crowd, but more data is always better than less.

      1. Yeah, glibly shoving early snow in the faces of warmists is stupid. The early snowfall really doesn’t matter.

        1. Two words, Al: Stomach Stapling.

          “Superstorm Sandy” really proves global warming? And these are the people we are supposed to trust.

          I dabbled in TV news about 25 years ago, getting to work at a San Francisco CBS affiliate as part of a Stanford summer program, that I was able to schedule my shifts in the ER around. I was frustrated with my medical career at that point and actually thinking of being a “TV doctor” news medical expert (sort of like Sanjay Gupta is now).

          After two months being around the people who read the news I knew I could never work around them and bailed (including giving dating up a very hot model who wanted to be an anchorwoman whom I met in the class, who wanted us to get married, and she already had news jobs lined up for us in Topeka, Kansas if we tied the knot). The news anchors are all blithering idiots who don’t even understand what it is they are reading in front of the cameras (and that is all they are doing, reading, certainly not thinking about it.) They are all quite pretty and know how to emphasize the right words, when to furrow their brows and look concerned, and when to smile and make happy talk. That’s it.

          The behind-the-camera staff at the TV stations refer to the on-camera anchors as “the talent”. It is not used in a complimentary way, but in about as sneering and derisively you can imagine the word ‘talent’ being said.

    4. OT: Isn’t this book at least 50 years behind the times? Today we have a large and growing digital economy that is not subject to scarcity and therefore no market is necessary. From the article, it appears that the arguments presented here could have been written 50 years ago.

      1. “Today we have a large and growing digital economy that is not subject to scarcity and therefore no market is necessary.”

        Holy fuck. Just what do you think that is?

        1. “Just what do you think that is?”

          I think it’s an economy without scarcity.

          OT: Holy fuck.

          1. His point is that the growing digital economy is a market. Even if we simplify away scarcity, it still consists of people engaging in exchange, which satisfies describing the description as a market.

            It’s important to remember that a market is an abstract concept that refers to people exchanging goods and services. Even if everything is being exchanged for free on the market, that’s a market, and it’s setting a price of $0 to whatever you’re talking about. No one’s charging any money, because there isn’t a point, because the competition is outbidding them by setting a price of $0. That’s a market, setting a price.

            So, really, you can’t have a growing digital economy where everything’s free without a market. To the degree we can claim that accurately describes the situation, it certainly isn’t because of social engineering by bureaucrats.

            1. “No one’s charging any money, because there isn’t a point, because the competition is outbidding them by setting a price of $0. That’s a market, setting a price.”

              I don’t think this is true. It’s not market forces that set the price at $0. It’s an ideological decision on the part of the creators like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds. I don’t think they have any problem with people charging money for their labours, but they are a lot closer to socialism than you give them credit for.

              1. It’s not market forces that set the price at $0. It’s an ideological decision on the part of the creators like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds.

                That’s irrelevent. They are providing a good, setting a price of $0, and exchanging it with others, and they are doing so under no bias, and under no government attempt to have ownership of the means of production. That’s all that’s required to satisfy the conditions of a market, and it’s insufficient to satisfy the conditions of socialism.

                1. You said: “It’s important to remember that a market is an abstract concept that refers to people exchanging goods and services.”

                  What exactly is being exchanged? Is giving $0 dollars to someone and receiving nothing in return also an example of a market transaction? As I understand it, if I receive something and give nothing in return, then no exchange has taken place. Also if I give nothing and receive nothing, then no exchange has taken place. Gifts and presents seem to fall outside the market as well.

                  1. Is giving $0 dollars to someone and receiving nothing in return also an example of a market transaction?

                    No, because nothing is being exchanged. However, the fact that you refrained from exchanging something actually has market effects. Given the opportunity to engage in all possible exchanges, you chose to refrain from that. That decision, combined with everyone else’s, results in an effect on the market. For example, consider if everyone stopped eating cheese. That would have an effect on the cheese market, even though the effect is what results when no one buys cheese. It would be defined by the lack of exchanges.

                    This is why transcending markets is a little more complicated than avoiding certain exchanges, or agreeing to certain prices.

                    1. “This is why transcending markets is a little more complicated than avoiding certain exchanges, or agreeing to certain prices.”

                      What you are saying here makes sense to me, though I still don’t see how paying $0 for something constitutes an exchange in the market. An exchange means give and take. Giving $0 is giving nothing. No exchange has taken place.

                    2. We can get semantic and debate whether or not giving something away is an “exchange in a market” or a “transfer in a market” or a “transaction in a market”. However, the “in the market” part is pretty much fixed, I think.

                    3. ” However, the “in the market” part is pretty much fixed, I think.”

                      If it’s an ideal abstract concept as you believe it to be, it can be fixed any way that pleases you. I think we should stick to the concrete and differentiate between transactions where something is exchanged and prices are determined by supply and demand, and transactions where this is not the case.

                  2. mtrueman:

                    Gifts and presents seem to fall outside the market as well.

                    So I guess everyone’s Christmas gifts fall outside markets. Funny, they seem to have a remarkable effect on the bottom line of a lot of companies participating in markets, for some arbitrary line to be drawn around those exchanges, declaring them “outside the market.”

                    1. Do you understand the difference between giving a gift and buying a gift? If not I will reluctantly try to explain it to you.

                    2. That’s irrelevant. Do you understand that gifts require resources?

                      Again, markets describe, in aggregate, how exchanges, supply, demand, and prices effect each other. In a way, giving a gift isn’t “a market”, any more than buying a gallon of gas is “a market.” However, gifts and gas require resources. All exchanges, even gifts, taken in aggregate across all people, effect supply (resource consumption), demand (many options for what gifts to buy and give, competing with each other), and, thus, price. Gifts have market effects, just like non-gifts, so I don’t really understand what value it is to draw a line around them and insist that anything given away for no money is “outside markets”. It doesn’t really change anything, and people go on analyzing markets, and accounting or the effects of gifts, anyway. It’s like arguing whether or not a tree that falls in the forrest is still part of the “forest”: it’s a semantic game that doesn’t change reality.

                    3. “so I don’t really understand what value it is to draw a line around them and insist that anything given away for no money is “outside markets”.”

                      Only that you defined markets as an area of exchange. I figure that transactions that don’t involve exchange are outside the market in some sense. If only the sense of your definition. Whether or not these transactions have some bearing on the transactions inside the market is another matter. I wouldn’t dispute that.

                    4. I figure that transactions that don’t involve exchange are outside the market in some sense.

                      In some germane sense, perhaps? Because I don’t see it.

      2. mtrueman|11.2.14 @ 3:10PM|#
        “OT: Isn’t this book at least 50 years behind the times?”

        Trueman lies. Truman admits he lies to further a POV.
        Trueman is a liar and is not to be trusted whatever he posts.
        Trueman is a liar.

      3. Digital products are subject to scarcity, because it takes resources to develop them and resources to maintain and distribute them.

        1. “Digital products are subject to scarcity”

          I’m stockpiling the Debian image for my Raspberry Pi in case they ever get scarce. I can store 500 copies on my usb hdd. I doubt I will ever run out.

          1. So basically , your point is that there’s no scarcity in the digital economy, but you’re planning for it, just in case?

            That makes sense.

            1. “That makes sense.”

              Care to explain?

              1. It’s a little weird to hear someone posit that he’s stockpiling goods that are universally available.

                1. One man’s weird is another man’s funny. Stockpiling something that is universally available is an example of absurdity.

          2. What did it take to build the Raspberry Pi?

            What does it take to produce Debian in the first place, port it to the Pi, or provide updates for it?

            How about the infrastructure that allows you to obtain it, store it, and install it?

            Time, effort, and natural resources, my dear boy, and all of those are scarce.

            1. “Time, effort, and natural resources, my dear boy, and all of those are scarce.”

              The product is not scarce. That’s the point you are missing. I can move my cursor over the file icon, click the mouse a couple of times, and where a moment ago I had one image, now I have two. Try that with strawberries and see how far you get.

              1. The product is not scarce. That’s the point you are missing. I can move my cursor over the file icon, click the mouse a couple of times, and where a moment ago I had one image, now I have two.

                You had to acquire the capital (the computer, the software, the Internet connection, the house, the electric hookup, etc.) and have to maintain it (pay the bills, fix broken parts, avoid malware infection, etc.). All of that is part of the process. That’s the point you are missing.

                You know that “post-scarcity” world in Star Trek? It’s not without scarcity. It takes a whole lot of people working really hard to maintain. Just because Captain Picard can get his “tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator on demand doesn’t mean they are devoid of scarcity. Without LaForge and his team of engineers keeping the ship running, the replicator won’t even beep and turn a light on. Never mind how often they have to defend themselves from aggression.

                The laws of thermodynamics make scarcity an essential part of existence. Just because we can turn those laws to our benefit and get more (subjective) value from less (objective) work doesn’t refute scarcity.

                1. “You had to acquire the capital (the computer, the software, the Internet connection, the house, the electric hookup, etc.) and have to maintain it (pay the bills, fix broken parts, avoid malware infection, etc.). All of that is part of the process. That’s the point you are missing.”

                  Believe me, I understand the point you are making. I’m not missing it at all. I still think you are missing my point. You say: “The laws of thermodynamics make scarcity an essential part of existence,” which is undoubtedly true for physical objects, like the routers, IC chips, etc. But digital objects are not physical; they are collections of ones and zeros and that’s what makes them different from the strawberries mentioned in the article. Hence my comment.

                  If you think that markets are necessary to determine the price of digital products, go ahead make the case. The author of the article or book hasn’t made any such case that I’m aware of. I will read yours with interest.

                  1. You do not understand the point because you draw arbitrary lines to suit your interests.

                    A good power surge would destroy all that information. The 1s and 0s do not exist without storage and transmission media (up to and including the human being as an example of both).

                    Arguing about the “necessity” of markets is irrelevant; you are not God and so are not equipped to substitute your determination in place of others’. Buyers and sellers consider the market necessary, and so it is.

                    If you don’t like it, don’t participate.

                    1. “You do not understand the point because you draw arbitrary lines to suit your interests.”

                      It’s you who are claiming that the physical laws of thermodynamics also apply to the non physical world. Talk about arbitrary!

                      It’s not me who is arguing for the need of markets, it’s in the article. You might want to read it, but I don’t especially recommend it.

                    2. There is no “non-physical world”, so you’re starting from an invalid premise. Information does not exist without a physical universe to represent it. You can’t separate the intangible from the tangible because the former is only possible within the context of the latter.

                      This comment ceases to exist the moment everyone has forgotten about it and Reason’s server squirrels eat it. To claim otherwise is to elevate your fevered imaginings over empiricism.

                    3. “There is no “non-physical world”

                      That’s dogma, and I don’t think we’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue.

                      Let’s get back to my point. I got an image for my Raspberry Pi. It wasn’t scarce; in fact I paid nothing for it. That’s what makes digital products different from physical objects, a distinction both you and the author here seem reluctant to acknowledge. Are you also reluctant make a distinction between weather and climate? I don’t mind contrarians, so don’t worry on that score.

                    4. It wasn’t scarce; in fact I paid nothing for it.

                      There’s a difference between “cheap” and “scarce”. For example, I can get “free” drinking water if I go to a public fountain. Does that mean that clean drinking water has transcended scarcity?

                      Cheap screws are cheap. Does that mean that the screw market has transcended scarcity?

                      What makes digital products distinct from physical objects is their relative cheapness, but that’s not sufficient to claim no scarcity.

                    5. “What makes digital products distinct from physical objects is their relative cheapness, but that’s not sufficient to claim no scarcity.”

                      I think I understand you, but I thought that in the economics as understood by the author in the article, roughly speaking cheapness was a function of scarcity. Look at the price of the debian image in a place like the USA where infrastructure and all the other necessary physical components are plentiful – it’s $0. Now look at the price of the debian image on the Tibetan plateau where the infrastructure is scarce, almost non existent – it’s still $0. What are these market signals telling me? Sincere question.

                    6. roughly speaking cheapness was a function of scarcity…What are these market signals telling me? Sincere question.

                      In a way, yes, but the term used most often is “supply“: how much producers are wiling to produce. But, just because a certain good is priced by a certain supplier at $0, doesn’t imply that scarcity doesn’t exist in digital goods, altogether.

                      Of even a particular good. For example, clean drinking water is “free” in a lot of places, but we understand that it isn’t really “free”: someone pays for it. The costs are just paid by someone else.

                      Scarcity: “Scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources….for something to be scarce, it has to be hard to obtain, hard to create, or both. Simply put, the production cost of something determines if it is scarce or not.”

                      Do you think debian was easy to create?

                      So, the cost of debian tells you that the producers of debian want people to have it at no cost, bearing all the cost themselves. That doesn’t mean it has no cost to produce, meaning that scarcity still applies. Also, free debian has software market effects, even though it’s free. So, debian hasn’t transcended scarcity. It takes more to do that than deciding to give it away for free.

                    7. “So, the cost of debian tells you that the producers of debian want people to have it at no cost, bearing all the cost themselves.”

                      I was trying to make this point earlier:

                      “mtrueman|11.3.14 @ 1:03PM|#

                      “No one’s charging any money, because there isn’t a point, because the competition is outbidding them by setting a price of $0. That’s a market, setting a price.” [That was you.]

                      I don’t think this is true. It’s not market forces that set the price at $0. It’s an ideological decision on the part of the creators like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds. I don’t think they have any problem with people charging money for their labours, but they are a lot closer to socialism than you give them credit for.” [That was me.]

                      In your rush to disagree with me and find fault with my comments, you said their decision was irrelevant and went on to say that paying $0 for something really was an exchange.

                    8. It’s not market forces that set the price at $0. It’s an ideological decision on the part of the creators like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds.

                      Right. In a way, yes, if all you decide that you want to give something away, you don’t need a market to set a price. You’re picking the price yourself, regardless of the market.

                      But, it’s still happening in a market, with market effects.

                    9. “No one’s charging any money, because there isn’t a point, because the competition is outbidding them by setting a price of $0. That’s a market, setting a price.” [That was you.]

                      What I meant by that comment is that, in the market, no one is trying to produce an item identical to debian, but costing more than debian. That’s a market effect, in a market.

                    10. But, then again, I don’t need markets if I arbitrarily want to price everything I’m selling at $2,000 a pop or more.

                      Is the point that, yeah, you don’t need markets when you ignore them?

                    11. That’s dogma, and I don’t think we’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue.

                      Empiricism is dogmatic? Your alternate philosophy would be what, exactly?

                      Let’s get back to my point. I got an image for my Raspberry Pi. It wasn’t scarce; in fact I paid nothing for it. That’s what makes digital products different from physical objects, a distinction both you and the author here seem reluctant to acknowledge.

                      It is a distinction that does not exist. You are ignoring the costs that are necessary to make it possible. You want to talk about the “necessity” of markets but you can’t acknowledge the necessity of the use of scarce resources to provide you the illusion of no scarcity?

                      Are you also reluctant make a distinction between weather and climate?

                      Try to stay on topic.

                    12. Materialism is dogma, of course. You think otherwise? You want to discuss that, go ahead.

                      I believe the distinction between physical objects and virtual objects does exist and that difference is reflected in the ease of reproducing one over the other.

                      ” you can’t acknowledge the necessity of the use of scarce resources to provide you the illusion of no scarcity”

                      You’re not reading me. Go through the comments and read more carefully, without preconceptions, if possible. I’ve agreed with your comment that digital products rely on scarce resources for their use. This in itself doesn’t make digital products themselves scarce. That doesn’t follow. If digital products were subject to scarcity, wouldn’t we see this reflected in their price? I don’t see any fluctuation in the price of the debian image. It’s been a steady $0 since it appeared. Does this tell you anything about its scarcity?

                    13. mtrueman:

                      It’s you who are claiming that the physical laws of thermodynamics also apply to the non physical world. Talk about arbitrary!

                      If your debian install exists in the non-physical world, does this imply that you could destroy all your computers and storage, and still have it? Because it’s a pattern of 1’s and 0’s? Since you can copy it at no cost, does this imply that you have all the resources necessary to make an infinite number of copies? Infinite memory? Infinite time?

                      Theoretically, you could destroy all your computers and still have it. Just memorize it. But, then that get’s us back into the realm of scarcity. Can you memorize everything? Can you create it from scratch? The idea could have existed before anyone had thought of it. Why didn’t it? If there’s no scarcity, why was it so scarce before someone thought it? Is everyone capable of thinking up anything? Can I download literally any content I can image? Can anyone communicate any idea? Can everyone understand an idea, once communicated?

                      Detaching an idea from the physical world is not sufficient to overcome scarcity. Even abstract ideas have scarcity. Focusing on the cost of reproducing digital information is an over-simplification.

                    14. “Focusing on the cost of reproducing digital information is an over-simplification.”

                      But it’s to the point from the perspective of economics or sociology. Musings about whether or not my debian image will still continue to exist if a meteor hits the planet later today and blows everything to smithereens is interesting from a philosophical point of view, and, as I’m sure you know by now, I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the issue, but the ontology of virtual products is not really germane in a discussion of economics. What’s the price of the debian image? What does this tell you about its scarcity? These are the questions of a sociologist.

                    15. mtrueman:

                      I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the issue, but the ontology of virtual products is not really germane in a discussion of economics.

                      But, you brought up the ontology of virtual products, when you said:
                      “But digital objects are not physical; they are collections of ones and zeros and that’s what makes them different from the strawberries mentioned in the article.”

                      So, apparently, you think the ontology of virtual products is “what makes them different”, but that’s suddenly now not germane to the discussion?

                      I would think the best reason why it’s not germane is because the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise: the nature of virtual goods doesn’t make them transcend scarcity. But, if you’ve changed your mind about it, that’s OK, too.

                    16. “So, apparently, you think the ontology of virtual products is “what makes them different”, but that’s suddenly now not germane to the discussion?”

                      Well they are different from physical products, you seem to agree with me on that, even if others here insist they are not. The question of whether these virtual products exist outside their physical realization is not one a sociologist or economist can give much of an answer to. It’s a philosophical debate and it will go on without end and shed no light on the problem of scarcity. That’s my view, anyway.

                      “But, if you’ve changed your mind about it, that’s OK, too.”

                      I think I have changed my mind on the issue, and I agree it’s OK. The nature of the virtual products makes them easy to reproduce, that’s where the notion of scarcity falls flat. Where scarcity continues to hold sway is in the will of those creators and providers who make it possible to obtain the virtual products. This will to provide is not unlimited, and can be scarce.

                    17. This will to provide is not unlimited, and can be scarce.

                      I think a lot of people have the desire to provide, but their ability to provide is restrained by scarcity.

                    18. “I think a lot of people have the desire to provide, but their ability to provide is restrained by scarcity.”

                      My point here is to say that physical products are subject to scarcity to a much greater degree than digital products which can be reproduced quickly, cheaply and accurately. A discussion of markets and scarcity in the year 2014 that doesn’t mention the digital economy lacks rigour, and those who defend the lack of rigour lack intellectual honesty.

                    19. mtrueman:

                      My point here is to say that physical products are subject to scarcity to a much greater degree than digital products which can be reproduced quickly, cheaply and accurately.

                      That’s irrelevent. Scarcity also includes the cost of production, how easily a product can be created, which your criteria of reproduction ignores.

                      However, can you use the digital economy and give me a copy of the greatest novel that will be written in the next 100 years? For that, you have to wait on the production, which, apparently, doesn’t become easy and free.

                      A discussion of markets and scarcity in the year 2014 that doesn’t mention the digital economy lacks rigour, and those who defend the lack of rigour lack intellectual honesty.

                      Wow. That’s fair. “OK, from now on, every market conversation has to discuss the digital economy, and if you don’t you’re dishonest.” Poisoning the well, anyone?

                    20. That’s irrelevent. Scarcity also includes the cost of production, how easily a product can be created, which your criteria of reproduction ignores.

                      Which is also why the argument that gift-givers don’t need markets falls flat. Gift givers have to acquire or produce any gift they want to give. To do that smartly and efficiently, they need markets. They need to look at their resources, balance how valuable a gift they want to give vs. how much resources they’ll have left, the cost of which is directly related to the value it has as determined by the market.

                      Similarly, a gift receiver who wants to receive a gift can make that decision based on markets. If someone wants to give me a brand new Macbook Pro, I don’t hesitate to accept. Even if I don’t want to use it, I know i can immediately sell it for $3000 or so. However, if someone wants to gift me a barrel of toxic sludge or a condo time share? I’ve seen enough commercials trying to get people to pay to get out from under their timeshare to know that, no, I don’t want to accept that.

                      So, just because a gift giver has decided that they value giving the gift so much that they don’t need the markets to set a price of zero, doesn’t mean they don’t need markets.

                      On another note, saying you “don’t need markets” is kind of a weird concept. Markets are abstract concepts describing supply, demand, and price. Anyone is free to ignore any information they want. However, they do so at their own risk.

                    21. mtrueman:

                      What’s the price of the debian image? What does this tell you about its scarcity?

                      OK, well, let’s think about this for a second.

                      Clearly, creating debian is creating a product. A product that didn’t exist before, now exists. This product has value. If it’s given away for free to anyone who can get it, they now have added to their personal wealth.

                      And, you’ve pointed out how easy it is for you to copy debian. You can copy it many times.

                      However, whats the value of each of your copies? How do you assess that? Are you richer in some way because you have 500 copies instead of 499? If you serve your copies on the internet, does the world now have added value, and if so, how much?

                      In a way, each of your copies, while easy to create, is also worthless, because you don’t need more than one copy, and no one necessarily has to get a copy from you. They can get it from lots of places.

                      So, in a way, given the lack of scarcity of copies of debian, all of your copies are worthless. And, the best way to know that? Consider how much money you could make trying to sell them. In a market. Or how much someone would value your gift of debian (which could also be determined by estimating how much it could be sold on a market).

                      In other words, copying digital goods over and over again doesn’t create wealth. The digital economy makes communicating and transferring digital goods cheap, but it doesn’t alleviate scarcity.

                  2. ” But digital objects are not physical; they are collections of ones and zeros and that’s what makes them different from the strawberries mentioned in the article. Hence my comment.”

                    However, those 1’s and 0’s cannot exist independently, they have to be stored somewhere, accessed with something, and somehow transmitted to you, all of which require those physical things which are subject to scarcity. Also, all 1’s and 0’s are on/off switches, which are turned on and off by electricity, which is also a physical product that is scarce, and so all roads lead to entropy.

                    1. ” all of which require those physical things which are subject to scarcity”

                      Nobody is disputing that physical things are subject to scarcity. That’s why they have a price tag greater than $0 attached to them. It’s non physical things we are discussing. The reproduction of these non physical things are not subject to the same laws of physics that govern the physical world.

              2. Except, you’re not the customer. You’re just part of the product, dear boy. The advertiser is the customer. Your argument got made 100 years ago with regard to newspapers. It no more eliminates the concept of scarcity than the newspaper did.

                1. “The advertiser is the customer.”

                  What advertiser?

      4. WOW

        A market without scarcity. Really? so everything is free?

        Cool! what planet are your from by the way? I would like to visit!

        1. I’m not so sure I would endorse the view that the digital economy is post-scarcity, but it’s pretty easy to see that it involves a lot less scarcity than other sectors. Like trueman said above, you can have hundreds, thousands, or millions of copies of a digital product. Once a digital product is in someone’s hands it has the potential to be given to any number of people, assuming they have the proper medium (i.e. a computer). There’s the point where we have to admit of scarcity – software is useless without a medium to execute it, of course. And the productive inputs are scarce, as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that the content itself, once created, doesn’t fit any traditional definition of scarcity.

          1. But that doesn’t change the fact that the content itself, once created, doesn’t fit any traditional definition of scarcity.

            Information is not scarce, and information is the apparent product. By the same reasoning, the content of a book is not scarce, either. You can just memorize it.

            The issue people seem to be having here is that the information is apparently divorced from a non-scarce delivery vehicle. The book, after all, can be damaged or destroyed, and only one person can read it at a time. But the same can be said of computers; just because a computer can hold many tomes of information and is not tied to any particular one doesn’t change the fact that it and all that it depends on to work is scarce.

            And while information itself is not scarce, humans can (or at least do) only hold so much information, dissemination is easier than ever but still not completely free, and there is always value to new information.

            The example of a Linux distribution isn’t even immune to this. If there’s a bug, how do you fix it? Either you put in the time to identify the cause and change the code yourself, or else you depend on some else to provide it to you. That’s new information, and you had to work to get it.

          2. Digital imagery is a commodity item like paper clips, scarcity is in the servers, pipes, programmers, fiber cable, etc….all the stuff mboolean can’t envision.

    5. you are too dumb to know the
      difference betwen weather and
      climate, go back to school

      1. F

        Not proper Haiku form, makes obvious point already addressed, contributes nothing to the discussion.

      2. I’m not convinced he knows the difference between weather and whether.

    1. I love how every election season the party that looks like it’s going to win starts babbling about how they’re on the verge of a permanent majority and shall win such resounding triumphs that they will never again be defeated.

      Then, after they fuck up for 2-6 years, the other party sweeps to victory and we get the exact same ludicrous rhetoric from them.

      1. To be fair the article makes a broader point about how the states attracting people and business tend to be overwhelmingly red.

        1. Like California? With a higher GDP than the top three red states combined?

          1. California is not attracting people or business dipshit. It’s losing them, usually to Texas.

            1. Compare gross net income or economic activity of CA and TX. CA wins easily you moron.

              No one mentioned year over year change.

              1. Gross? As in ‘not adjusted for the massive difference in population’? What a perfectly useless metric, dipshit.

              2. Compare gross net income or economic activity of CA and TX. CA wins easily you moron.

                No one mentioned year over year change.

                This is so fucking stupid I don’t even know where to begin.

                First off, the way you tell whether a policy is good or bad is based on changes over time. If a country is *currently* wealthy or *currently* poor, that doesn’t tell you if their current policies are good or bad. They could be rich or poor based on past policies while their current policies are making them better or worse off. This is why Chile is still relatively poor, but clearly has good policies since they’ve become so much richer in the recent past, whereas France is wealthy, but their gargantuan unemployment and economic stagnation shows their current policies to be the wrong ones.

                Secondly, ‘gross net income’ is an idiotic metric because it ignores minor quibbles like ‘quality of life’ and ‘cost of living.’ California is tremendously expensive due to high taxes and regulations, so someone making more than a person in Texas can have a drastically lower standard of living.

                Math and economics – do you understand them?

                1. No, Irish, the LA Clippers scored the most points in the NBA last year. That’s why they were the best team.

                2. So since North Dakota is the highest growth state but is entirely dependent on oil and gas it has the best policies?

                  Wrong!

                  You clearly don’t understand what accounts for economic growth.

                  Why is deep red state TN with no income tax a hellhole?

                  1. You keep spewing shit – but you don’t even know what your own words mean.

                  2. TN is not a hellhole, dipshit.

                  3. Hey, moron. Compare North Dakota’s unemployment rate over time to that of the U.S. generally.

                    Even before the gas boom North Dakota had an unemployment rate several percentage points lower than the national average.

                    As for Tennessee, I’d rather live anywhere in Tennessee than in south central Los Angeles or inner city Chicago.

                    1. Deep Red State Georgia has the lowest minimum wage and the highest UE rate in the nation.

                      YOU SERFS ARE PAID TOO MUCH IN GEORGIA!

                    2. the lowest minimum wage and the highest UE rate in the nation.

                      Correlation =/= causation

                    3. sure is a coincidence. How is Kansas doing, drone?

                    4. Why do people use =/=??? != its shorter and its correct.

                    5. Deep Red State Georgia has the lowest minimum wage and the highest UE rate in the nation.

                      Uh…they share that ‘lowest minimum wage’ with like a dozen other states, including North Dakota which has the lowest unemployment and the fastest wage growth, and Texas, which has one of the fastest growing populations and is currently the most successful large state.

                      Clearly having a low minimum wage does not guarantee low employment, its just that having a minimum wage that’s too high guarantees having high unemployment. There are other aspects of unemployment, such as regulation, policing, education, etc. I also don’t think fucking Georgia is anyone’s idea of a libertarian paradise. They have awful laws from a crime and punishment perspective, terribly corrupt policing, and an uneducated population kept stupid through terrible schools. They have some of the worst aspects of Republican states in the same way California has the worst aspects of Democrat states.

                      Incidentally, Georgia has an unemployment rate (currently at 8.3%) which is quite a bit lower than Los Angeles (currently at 9.2%) to use just one example. One of the places with the highest unemployment rates in Georgia also happens to be Atlanta (currently at 10.4%). Tell me, which party runs Atlanta?

                      Your point about Georgia has not contradicted anything I’ve said, nor does it prove any of your actual arguments.

                    6. Palin’s Bitch just got owned.

                    7. Palin’s Bitch just got owned.

                      BECAUSE LOS ANGELES! YEAH! IT SUCKS WORSE THAN GEORGIA!

                    8. “Georgia has an unemployment rate (currently at 8.3%) which is quite a bit lower than Los Angeles (currently at 9.2%) to use just one example.”

                      Are you really comparing an entire state to a city? ROFL you dumb fuck. why post if you are so clueless?

                    9. Are you really comparing an entire state to a city? ROFL you dumb fuck. why post if you are so clueless?

                      You couldn’t even read the next sentence in his post, yet you are in some position to label other people “clueless”?

                    10. Are you really comparing an entire state to a city?

                      Their populations are similar. I think LA may even be more populous than the state of GA.

                  4. “but is entirely dependent on oil and gas it has the best policies?”

                    at one point California’s economy was largely dependent on people having to go to a movie theater for air conditioning

                  5. You clearly don’t understand what accounts for economic growth.

                    And clearly you don’t understand what economic growth is. It isn’t the income. It’s the change in income.

              3. Re: Peter Caca,

                Compare gross net income or economic activity of CA and TX

                Yes, there’s a lot of rich people living in the coasts that drive the net income of CA up compared to the dirt-poor inland.

                In the meantime, small business owners are leaving in droves…

                1. “In the meantime, small business owners are leaving in droves…”

                  Lemme guess. And all the prog/dems look at each in disbelief wondering what could possibly be driving them out since they’re enlightened people with enlightened polices.

              4. The CA economy is sliding. Business’ are leaving. Skilled talent is leaving.

                Now, CA still has a significant economy that built for years, decades ago. Large economies do not change instantly.

                However, CA is a cesspool. Most of the rest of the country would be thrilled to see CA leave the US.

                Oh and dude, you do know that no one here believes anything from you, right? Generally, your credibility is really poor.

                So, even if you were correct, (and you are not) your prior behavior is such that you can’t persuade anyone.

                Must suck to be you.

              5. Please tell me even you aren’t this dumb, Buttplug. Think second derivative of wealth. You’re only looking at the first. That’s not the claim. You might want to get over your issues with innumeracy before you call people “moron”.

            2. Condoms.

          2. Like California? With a higher GDP than the top three red states combined?

            California has a ‘higher GDP’ because they have 38 million people whereas the largest red state has 26.4 million people. France has a higher GDP than Hong Kong due to its far higher population, but Hong Kong is far richer.

            By your logic, Texas proves the dominance of Republican states since it has a higher GDP than the entirety of New England.

          3. You are embarrassingly stupid.

          4. You also don’t understand the existence of trend lines. Most blue states became wealthy in the distant past when they were vastly more free market than they are today. In 2014, on the other hand, those states are declining relative to states with less government control.

            California has a massive population and is tremendously wealthy, but that wealth was built from the late 1800’s until about 1980. California has had a higher unemployment rate than the national average every month since 1990.

            California is in a rapid state of decline and its because they’ve jettisoned the policies that made them the most prosperous place on Earth back in the 1980s.

            1. You meant to say California has comparatively little oil and gas vs Teexas.

              1. No they just refuse to exploit that oil and gas you stupid fuck.

              2. CA has a shitload of oil. See: Kern County.

                Most of it is off limits, and there are no new wells.

                In case you didn’t see above, you are embarrassingly stupid.

              3. You meant to say California has comparatively little oil and gas vs Teexas.

                California has tons of oil which they refuse to exploit. The fact that you apparently believe California of all places (a state built on a gold rush and which appeals to the hyper-rich due to its wonderful climate) is somehow lacking in natural resources is laughable.

                California is possibly the most resource rich state in the country given that it has shale oil formations, prime logging up north, some tremendous farm land, and a lot of mining. If your argument is that Texas somehow has more natural resources than California, then you are wrong.

                The fact that California’s been in decline despite its wealth of oil and natural resources is actually a double refutation of Democratic economics.

                1. CA is nearly bereft of shale, you liar.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…..ted_States

                  Quit listening to redneck radio and news.

                  1. Not all oil is in shale-which California still has quite a bit of-you stupid fuck. Quit pretending you can comprehend Wikipedia maps.

                    1. CA has only 3% of the natural gas that TX has.

                      http://www.usatoday.com/story/…../13443353/

                      You fucking Peanuts are owned again! Caught lying by the Buttplug!

                    2. Oil =/= natural gas

                      1. Texas

                      Proved oil reserves: 9.6 billion barrels
                      Natural gas reserves: 93.5 trillion cubic feet (the most)
                      Energy consumption per capita: 324.9 million BTUs (21st highest)
                      Number of operating refineries: 27 (the most)

                      2. North Dakota

                      Proved oil reserves: 3.8 billion barrels
                      Natural gas reserves: 4.0 trillion cubic feet (11th most)
                      Energy consumption per capita: 254.7 million BTUs (14th lowest)
                      Number of operating refineries: 1 (tied, 24th most)

                      4. California

                      Proved oil reserves: 3.0 billion barrels
                      Natural gas reserves: 2.1 trillion cubic feet (8th least)
                      Energy consumption per capita: 201.1 million BTUs (3rd lowest)
                      Number of operating refineries: 17 (3rd most)

                      So what’s it like to be retarded? Are you so retarded that you can’t tell you just got humiliated?

                    3. CA produces as much crude oil as Alaska, you shit-for-brains.

                      http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pe…..mbbl_a.htm

                      BUT THEY WON’T LET US DRILL HERE – my ass.

                      Liar – that is what you are. Or just stupid.

                    4. IOW, the oil is irrelevant to CA’s flagging performance. Thanks for playing I’ll gladly own you anytime.

                    5. Cytotoxic just got a plug in his clueless ass.

                  2. PB, Just stop, I’m almost feeling sorry for how stupid you are.

                2. California is like the France of the United States. It has a bloated public sector, onerous regulations, and doesn’t do a particularly good job of achieving liberal ends as compared to other countries/states with a similar political makeup.

              4. No, he meant to say you are stupid.

            2. This is BS. California is not in a state of decline because they have “jettisoned” any policies. It was always a high tax state. It just happened to be on the south coast of the Pacific Ocean and had a large clear sky desert. These were both instrumental for the development of the defense industry especially aircraft.

              They had world class universities involved in the development of advanced engineering and scientific development and the people who utilized that talent chose to stay in California like Hewlett-Packard.

              Starting in the 90s defense started moving out due to cutbacks that had to be made. As things consolidated companies like Raytheon who were based in New England closed their west coast operations and acquisitions. The loss of defense was not completely made up by the growing medical products industry.

              Now some tech companies are moving out but it has nothing to do with California changing anything. They are getting sweetheart deals from other states.

              If anything is causing a decline it is the massive immigration into the state of low skill welfare dependent people.

              1. “If anything is causing a decline it is the massive immigration into the state of low skill welfare dependent people.”

                bingo. the democrats are letting that happen. start shooting all the mexicans and things will improve.

                1. Been to a LAUSD school now that it is majority Hispanic? Somehow the schools got really bad as the demographics changed. No coincidence at all.

              2. “If anything is causing a decline it is the massive immigration into the state of low skill welfare dependent people.”

                Uh, speaking of “low skill welfare dependent people”, one-third of all welfare recipients in the United States live in California, and about one-quarter of the illegal immigrants currently in the United States live in California.

  2. So Bernie Sanders should read this. OK. Someone send it to him.

  3. THESIS 2. Marxist economic theory, in conjunction with information technology provide the basis on which a viable socialist economic program can be advanced.

    The collapse of previously existing socialism was due to causes embedded in its economic mechanism, which are not inherent in all possible socialisms. The article argues that Marxist economic theory, in conjunction with information technology, provides the basis on which a viable socialist economic program can be advanced, and that the development of computer technology and the Internet makes economic planning possible. In addition, it argues that the socialist movement has never developed a correct constitutional program, and that modern technology opens up opportunities for democracy. Finally, it reviews the Austrian arguments against the possibility of socialist calculation in the light of modern computational capacity and the constraints of the Kyoto Protocol.

    Capitalism is quickly becoming an antiquated means of “signaling” what is going on in the economy.

    1. AHAHAHAHAHAHAH *gasp* AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Hey guys I know how we can get socialism to work! Just hook up the ‘Top Men’ TO COMPUTERS! Then they can make important choices for our massively complex economy correctly!

      Oh God, the irony…

      http://panampost.com/jose-nino…..-obsolete/

      1. If a hyperintelligent AI is so bright that has a better understanding than I do of my subjective and constantly fluctuating wants and desires, I’d say we probably don’t have to worry about scarcity in most physical goods anymore.

        At which point socialism could actually work, as it tends to work pretty well when it comes to air right now.

        1. Fair point, but would that even be socialism anymore? Socialism is about owning the means of production. No one owns the means of production of our air.

          1. Yeah, that’s my point. In that mythical scenario when we’re all gods who can have our needs met without evening thinking about (in that scenario, the AIs will more accurately understand my subjective tastes more than I do), we don’t need an economic system at all, as there’d be no reason to trade.

            All the Marxist blather is just squeezing the last few drops of life from a system of thought that’s been confined to the dustbin of history right next to phlogiston.

            1. In that mythical scenario when we’re all gods who can have our needs met without evening thinking about (in that scenario, the AIs will more accurately understand my subjective tastes more than I do), we don’t need an economic system at all, as there’d be no reason to trade.

              How to get Marxism to work;

              Step 1. Achieve Utopia.
              Step 2. Implement Marxism.

        1. It’s amazing when the leadership of an entire country is unaware of a simple concept like “paralysis by analysis” or “drinking from a firehose”.

          1. Analysis is the ends for them. It’s fun! I can pretend I’m a great thinker! No need for a tangible product!

          2. And these were virtuous people overthrown by the evil Pinochet.

    2. Capitalism is quickly becoming an antiquated means of “signaling” what is going on in the economy.

      You can always tell the critical theorists by their tendency to string together words into jargon they themselves don’t understand. If we can just spew enough words, maybe the fundamental basis of economic reality will change and we can finally abandon that pernicious division of labor.

      Prices are information. Abandoning prices–that is, abandoning markets–eliminates that information and necessarily condemns humanity to a slow death. Thankfully, in every system that tries to eliminate prices–that is, to eliminate the market that emerges due to the social activity of trade and the division of labor–a black market has arisen because people don’t want to starve or run around in rags.

      Nice to see you, T.

      1. Prices are information.Abandoning prices–that is, abandoning markets–eliminates that information and necessarily condemns humanity to a slow death.

        Yes, prices are information. A collection of a vast number of other bits of information. However, price is not an exclusive mechanism for collecting and transmitting that information. The information would would not be eliminated. This is what I mean when I say capitalism as a means of signaling is fast becoming antiquated.

        1. You used an awful lot of jargon which has no actual meaning outside of Marxist fever swamps.

          However, price is not an exclusive mechanism for collecting and transmitting that information.

          Yes it is because even with the greatest possible modern computer technology no person or group of people can possibly sift through the mass of data in order to centrally control anything. Computers have not changed this basic fact in any way.

          The information would would not be eliminated.

          Yes it would be. If you try to centrally control pricing mechanisms, you destroy the information provided to producers and consumers through organic pricing.

          1. Yes it would be. If you try to centrally control pricing mechanisms, you destroy the information provided to producers and consumers through organic pricing.

            The Austrian economist thus offered an update of Adam Smith’s celebration of capital’s ‘invisible hand’,now re-envisioned as a quasi-cybernetic information system:

            It is more than a metaphor to describe the price
            system as a kind of machinery for registering
            change, or a system of telecommunications which
            enables individual producers to watch merely the
            movement of a few pointers as an engineer might
            watch the hands of a few dials, in order to adjust
            their activities to changes of which they may never
            know more than is reflected in the price
            movement. (Hayek, 1945: 527)

            I cannot get the link to work, it is a pdf. Google: “red plenty platforms-culture machine”.

            1. Doesn’t matter. It’s still as vague and ephemeral as any Christian’s description of God (us mere mortal cannot comprehend Him).

            2. I’m reading it and what I see is about what I expected. No such computer exists, we are not anywhere near the production of such a computer, and it is delusional to claim that we are.

              1. No such computer exists, we are not anywhere near the production of such a computer, and it is delusional to claim that we are.

                Maybe, but we discussing the possibility of a viable price substitute which contains, at a minimum, all the same information. Have you changed your mind on that point.

                1. Re: Blunt,

                  Maybe, but we discussing the possibility of a viable price substitute which contains, at a minimum, all the same information

                  You can’t have that viable price substitute, Blunt. You don’t understand what you’re trying to substitute in the first place.

                  A price is the point where seller and buyer agree. The price can thus only be known after the fact. If you have several buyers and several sellers agreeing on a price of a commodity, that price conveys information on the current demand schedule for that commodity, allowing producers to better forecast future market requirements. But you have to have trades before that happens.

                  What the socialists pretend is that all they need to successfully plan the economy is to have a system that can predict these buyer-seller agreements before they happen so production can be scheduled. That means having a system that can predict the future. If that system was possible, stock traders and future traders would have figured one out long ago. They haven’t, and the socialists will not have it.

                  1. What the socialists pretend is that all they need to successfully plan the economy is to have a system that can predict these buyer-seller agreements before they happen so production can be scheduled. That means having a system that can predict the future.

                    Using pricing is also predicting the future. Price is true only at the moment of the transaction and afterwards it is only data, confined within a vague range, for the future value.

                    Collecting everyone’s “vaulation data”, data that results in a price consensus, would enable one to make, at a minimum, future predictions as accurate as those based off price.

                    1. No it wouldn’t. Past trends don’t predict future results.

                    2. Collecting everyone’s “vaulation data”, data that results in a price consensus, would enable one to make, at a minimum, future predictions as accurate as those based off price.

                      And we might as well program the computer to live life for us. The market is just people doing what people do. Yes, we purchase things that we need, but we also buy things that we want. Both examples illustrate human activity.

                      Think about flee markets and art fairs: in these people not only buy what they want, but they also sell what they no longer want. Exchange is a human endeavor. Programming a machine to simulate the exchange for us so it can predict what we might do and then do it for us is tantamount to living life for us. Stupid.

                    3. Programming a machine to simulate the exchange for us so it can predict what we might do and then do it for us is tantamount to living life for us.

                      19th-century socialists wiled away their days designing the ideal house for every human being who would ever live. The more things change.

                    4. Re: blunt,

                      Using pricing is also predicting the future.

                      You’re not understanding. Forecasting based on already-existing prices is NOT the same as predicting prices.

                      Besides, you’re not addressing the question: if it were possible to forecast prices with precision, wouldn’t stock traders perfected a system long ago? Why do you think they haven’t?

                      Price is true only at the moment of the transaction and afterwards it is only data,

                      Then what is the point of this wonderful system the socialists pretend to devise, if they depend on prices that already exist? If Market prices are good enough for feeding the system, why are future market prices not good enough for future production? What would justify centralized production then?

                      Collecting everyone’s “vaulation data”,

                      What? Value is subjective. How can you gather such “data”? You’re not making sense. I don’t think you even understand the problem.

                    5. blunt is an apt user name. That last sentence is something you are going to have to prove. If you could do it, you could probably create a perfect climate model as well. Even then it would just be an attactor where the actual value at any given time is likely to be. You see in chaotic systems, even the answer doesn’t help you with the specifics of the problem.

        2. However, price is not an exclusive mechanism for collecting and transmitting that information.

          It is, for the only reason that prices are the demonstrated tastes of individuals in the aggregate.

          What you’re positing is that AI would understand our tastes from moment to moment better than we would. Maybe that would happen in a future when god-like AIs do everything for us (including thinking), but with the arrival of a post-scarcity world, there’s no reason to have economic discussions at all.

          1. What you’re positing is that AI would understand our tastes from moment to moment better than we would.

            It does not have to understand. It just needs to process it into a metric that can be interpreted by consumers similar to the way pricing operates. I also do not see how moment to moment transmission would be much of a technical problem.

            1. It just needs to process it into a metric that can be interpreted by consumers similar to the way pricing operates.

              Oh, so IOW: price signals.

            2. Re: Blunt,

              It just needs to process it into a metric that can be interpreted by consumers similar to the way pricing operates.

              What you describe would only work for a very limited set of goods.

              I also do not see how moment to moment transmission would be much of a technical problem.

              It isn’t. That’s not the issue. The issue is that you don’t get what prices are. A price can only be known right after seller and buyer agree to the trade, and not before. What you’re trying to describe is a system that can predict the future. That’s an impossibility.

              You don’t see to have a lot of imagination, Blunt. Let me ask you: don’t you think that stock traders would have figured a computer system that can price correctly trades in the near future, already?

              1. What you’re trying to describe is a system that can predict the future. That’s an impossibility.

                I am describing a system which predicts the future better than prices. Incorporating information technology will enable so much more about value than pricing alone. For example, we will have not just the moment of purchase but also the moment of consumption. With consumption we will also have a measure of the consumer’s satisfaction and their immediate revaluation.

                1. ^^^ will enable knowing so much more about vaule

            3. You’re positing a system that can accurately predict an enormously complex phenomenon.

              Consider the problems inherent in designing a model that would accurately predict every facet of a baseball season and you have a model that is far less complicated than the one that would be needed to predict prices–which is to say, the demonstrated subjective tastes of human beings, each of which itself is an enormously complex and unpredictable actor whose preferences are constantly shifting–from moment to moment.

              The complexity of the model you’re positing is staggering beyond belief.

              1. You’re positing a system that can accurately predict an enormously complex phenomenon.

                Yes, as it scales up it would have condense much of that information. This does not seem insurmountable.

                1. It is utterly insurmountable, regardless of ‘scale up’.

                2. Re: Blunt,

                  Yes, as it scales up it would have condense much of that information.

                  You’re avoiding the issue of the impossibility of calculating prices before trades happen. Why is that?

                  1. You’re avoiding the issue of the impossibility of calculating prices before trades happen.

                    See my @3:01 & @3:42 replies to your posts.

                    1. Re: Blunt,

                      See my @3:01 & @3:42 replies to your posts.

                      I did and you’re purposefully avoiding the issue.

                      I am describing a system which predicts the future better than prices.

                      Prices don’t predict the future.

                      Again, you’re avoiding the issue. I ask again: if it were possible to predict future outcomes, wouldn’t stock traders already perfected such a system?

                      Incorporating information technology will enable so much more about value than pricing alone.

                      Value is subjective. Prices only convey information about where sellers and buyers agree and that only happens after a trade and people only trade if they feel they will gain from the trade.

                      You’re purposefully avoiding the conundrum and repeating the same nonsense. Why?

                3. It doesn’t seem insurmountable because you are convinced that what you imagine is not only possible but probable.

                  Why not go all the way and imagine a computer that can turn imagination into reality?

                4. Sir, if I get your position straight. You are arguing for a computer, which in order to operate, would require the better part of the surface mass and energy production of the earth for accurate operation (given that billions of things can effect the price of one commodity in one state and there are hundreds of states a product can be in and tens of millions of products). This in order to replace a system that already works if left to itself.

                5. It’s probably a fractal like system where the complexity is the same at all scales.

                  Dumbshit you just are a fucking ignoramus.

              2. I wrote phenomenon, but it’s really phenomena. It’s only a trick of language that makes us think that prices or markets are things in themselves, whereas in fact they are the consequences of billions of discrete phenomena, each of which is itself unpredictable. Since that position doesn’t lend itself to the current scientistic fad, college kids get to retard their growth by sitting through macroecon courses that can’t even predict economic crises.

                But for those unconvinced of the Misesian wisdom, this is why federalism and secession are such fantastic real-world solutions to debates that are enormously complicated and largely dependent on personality as much as intelligence. The syndicalists, Marxists, Nozickians, and ancaps can all go their own ways and we’ll see what happens.

                1. Though that would mean that we’d have to prevent the socialists from “liberating” our corn fields and homes when we decide to go on vacation.

            4. We’ll build your super computer right after we get done inventing the time machine, dumb ass.

    3. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      It is a very naive form of socialism that criticises technical change under the pretext that it causes unemployment. The real criticism that can be levied at capitalist economies in this regard is that they are too slow to adopt labour saving devices because labour is artificially cheap.

      What the fucking shit? In a free market there’s no such thing as ‘artificially cheap’ or ‘artificially expensive.’ Things can only be kept artificially cheap or expensive through government manipulation of prices. Otherwise, how expensive somethings would be is determined entirely through organic processes, not through anything describable as ‘artificial.’

      1. Good catch. I will say though that this pro-technology socialism is a refreshing change and return to the retro socialism of the ’60s and earlier, before it went all luddite.

      2. I spoke with a guy with a PhD in computer science who was convinced computers and robots would take over soon. I asked him where the electricity would come from, and he gave me the usual nonsense about wind and solar.

        He was nuts about electric cars because of their efficiency. He trouble understanding that most electricity comes from burning coal. For this reason, an electric car is less efficient than a gasoline one.

        1. I’ve heard that the idea with electric cars is that centralized burning of coal is way more efficient at producing electricity than decentralized gasoline burning in ICEs. What this doesn’t account for is 1) loss in transmission and 2) the suckiness of electric cars.

          1. In a coal plant, only about 40% of the heat energy becomes electricity. Including transmission losses, The electric car converts about 90% of that into mechanical power for an overall efficiency of 36%.

            A gasoline engine has about the same 40% efficiency.

            A process can only be as efficient as the least efficient step. And for coal and gasoline, the efficiency limiting step is the same.

            1. Are you sure ICE’s are 40% efficient? I thought it was like 20%. This is based on what I learned in publik edukasuhn however…

              1. wiki says 25 to 30%. Regardless, the point is that it is nonsense to say that an electric car powered by coal is 90% efficient.

                1. Fair enough. Even if electric cars are more efficient, they still suck. Too little power/acceleration for driving people short distances, too short a battery life to heft cargo long distances. Oh, and they’re expensive and sometimes just burst into flame.

                  1. Yes. They have the same problems they had when they first came out in the 1880s.
                    Electric cars were set aside for the same reason zeppelins were.

                    Aside from hydroelectric and a tiny bit from wind and solar, all of our electricity comes from steam turbines. The coal, gas, and nuclear is just a difference of heat source.

                    Until someone finds a better way to spin a generator, we are stuck with steam engines for electricity.

                    1. Wait, can’t the ignition of gas (CH4) spin that turbine just fine? Isn’t that what allows natgas to be used at a small scale without large loss of efficiency?

                    2. Sure, but for large scale, steam is best.

                    3. At the risk of torturing you, why would a natgas steam turbine be better than just having the natgas turn the turbine? Wouldn’t that be a lot more efficient?

                    4. Re: Cytotoxic,

                      At the risk of torturing you, why would a natgas steam turbine be better than just having the natgas turn the turbine?

                      You would need to compress outside air to get it to ignite with the gas inside a gas turbine. I wouldn’t want to be near the intake of such a turbine. Instead, steam turbines are nice and neat closed systems, where the gas is only used to heat water and not turn a turbine at 20,000 RPM. You can also use several stages to squeeze the last drop of residual mechanical energy from the steam until it condenses.

                    5. Calpine uses gas turbines as the primary power source and the exhaust is used to creates steam to drive a secondary generator in a combined cycle power plant.

                      http://www.calpine.com/power/technologies.asp

                    6. It would be more efficient, but also more expensive.

                      Steam turbines have a number of advantages: they are easy to scale up, cheaper, and more reliable. It also easy to put them in stages for maximum efficiency. Steam can be recycled, unlike combustion gas which must be expelled.

                      For these reasons, steam turbines supply about 90% of US electricity.

                    7. Excellent work, all of you. Break for lunch.

                    8. Actually, they got a fair amount wrong. It’s true that steam is cheap and available and is matched reasonably well to the temperature of thermal baseload, i.e. coal or existing nuclear (or gas boilers in place of coal). BUT, you can run combined cycle with gas, that is you first burn the gas in a classic Brayton cycle (jet engine) just like you described, and then you use the exhaust heat to boil water and expand that through a steam turbine. Combined cycle plants can be 50-60% efficient. The reason they’re more efficient is that they start out with higher temperature heat. Ultimately Carnot applies regardless of the cycle.

                      Water can be recycled, but why does that matter? You still need a cold sink to accept your reject heat which is typically more water. Combustion gases are CO2, CO, H2O and NOx. They always have to be expelled because you’re reacting the fuel with air in all cases.

                      Intake air is intake air. It’s consumed regardless and isn’t a concern. Combustion is stoichiometric (well a goal at least) so you need the same amount of air whether you’re burning in a gas turbine or a hot box.

                      So back to your original question. A properly designed combined cycle plant IS more efficient than steam turbines.

      3. That’s one of the big semantic problems between capitalists and socialists. For capitalist defenders, ‘capitalism’ is typically synonymous with free markets, while for socialists, it typically includes various forms of government intervention on behalf of capitalists.

      4. Things can only be kept artificially cheap or expensive through government manipulation of prices.

        I get a kick out of libertarians so in love with their dogma of the “free market: that they actually believe this nonsense. When people collude to rig a market, the first thing the libertarian says is this rigging couldn’t have occurred without government. You can’t make this stuff up.

        A truly free market would allow for cartels, monopolies, and cornering the market in commodities.

        Nobody can control the hand made shoe market because entry costs are so low. The semiconductor market can be easily manipulated and monopolized where the cost of a foundry is billions of dollars.

    4. THESIS 2. Marxist economic theory, in conjunction with information technology provide the basis on which a viable socialist economic program can be advanced.

      It was unbelievable in 1908 when Bogdanov wrote the sci-fi novel Red Star, and it’s unbelievable now.

    5. Wut:

      PROPOSITION 2.2. Socialism requires the abolition of money and its replacement by a system of remuneration based on labour time. This is the key to promoting both equity and technological advance.

      Uh…money *is* remuneration for labor time. You’re paid for the time you labor.

      Also, how do you ‘remunerate’ someone in a situation where you have no money?

      Also, by forcing workplaces to pay workers the the full value created by their labour, it eliminates the squandering of labour brought about by low pay, and encourages the introduction of labour saving innovation. It provides, moreover, a rational and scientifically well founded basis for economic calculation. If goods are labelled with the labour required to make them, the arbitrary and irrational character of the old Soviet price system is avoided.

      I don’t even…

      1. Full Value = whatever the fuck you feel like.

      2. If goods are labelled with the labour required to make them, the arbitrary and irrational character of the old Soviet price system is avoided.

        That beast was slain more than a century ago. Valuing goods via the amount of labor required to produce them is the epitome of arbitrary and has nothing to do with how people actually value things.

        Is there any aspect of socialism that ISN’T prescriptive?

      3. Dude don’t stress the details. Blunt’s super computer will figure all this out. All we have to do is kick up our feet and rake in the dough.

        1. We’ll be raking in so much dough that we’ll have to buy bigger rakes.

    6. In fairness, the justifications for anarchism I’ve read here are no less silly, just replace ‘antiquated means of “signalling”‘ with ‘antiquated means of “preventing mob law and environmental degradation”‘.

    7. Re: Blunt,

      The collapse of previously existing socialism was due to causes embedded in its economic mechanism, which are not inherent in all possible socialisms[…] and that the development of computer technology and the Internet makes economic planning possible

      I am left wondering just how much computing power is required to do centrally what capitalism can do right now and since ever.

      Never mind that modern computers and the Internet are developments of private businesses. If the answer is that government created those, the question becomes: how come the Soviets didn’t develop their own? Soviet computer science was pretty advanced – according to them, at least. And their computers were government creations.

      1. Technocratic socialism is always about chasing imagined globally suboptimal outcomes while ignoring actual locally optimal outcomes. It elevates macroeconomic fantasies above microeconomic realities. It has never been able to work around the fundamental problem that you cannot converge to a globally optimal outcome with nothing but locally suboptimal outcomes.

        Central planning inherently produces suboptimal outcomes because it replaces small decisions made by the most interested parties with large decisions made by the least interested parties.

        The information problem is fundamental to the failure of socialism. A single buyer and a single seller only need to know enough to resolve a single trade optimally. A central planner has to know enough to resolve every trade optimally.

        Compounded with this inherent problem is the imposed problem of politics. A top-down system rewards incompetence and politicking rather than competence and adaptability. Of course, neo-socialists see the political problem and assume it is wholly explanatory. Laughably, though, they always end up producing the same political environment. Their failure to understand the humanity they want to “save” always leads them to elevate the vain and corrupt to positions of power.

    8. In other words, they completely fail to understand the Austrian calculation argument.

    9. Probably a dead thread now, but how long after the implementation of a system that is alleged to be able to do what is claimed above will people be punished for not acting as the system “predicted”?

      Or worse, refusing to along with the system!?

    10. He is so totally right! They just finished building the main control room and it is teh awesome. Socialism is the future!!

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Cybersyn

    11. You know there was a dystopian sci-fi novel written about this concept, right?

      One giant super-computer runs everything, and it’s called “Unicomp”.

  4. I have returned.

    New Orleans was a hoot. I rode on a streetcar that was not named “Desire”. I saw an old timey steamboat, drank heavily, and wandered around on Bourbon street in the wee hours. I also saw ugly statues in the sculpture garden.

    I also heard some good derp from my Peace Corps pals. We were all there for our 5 year reunion. Most were in or just finishing grad school. A few had married. None had kids or plans for them. The chatter was a murderers’ row of prog derp: reproductive rights, bike sharing, white privilege, African American, & high speed rail.

    But in a surprising upset, the minimum wage was criticized for increasing teenage unemployment. I chimed here and there. I got a few of them to consider the possibility that legalizing ivory could keep elephants from going extinct:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSPkVoGx5c4

    Later, I visited my brother’s family in Alabama. It was nice seeing my young nephew.

    I came back yesterday after driving 900 miles in 14 hours.

    1. I didn’t notice you had gone.

  5. OT: We’re all gonna die!

    http://americanthinker.com/blo….._2100.html

    The 40-page synthesis, summing up 5,000 pages of work by 800 scientists already published since September 2013, said global warming was now causing more heat extremes, downpours, acidifying the oceans and pushing up sea levels.

    “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side,”

    1. HAIL SCIENCE!

      HAIL SCIENCE!

      HAIL SCIENCE!

    2. The 40-page synthesis, summing up 5,000 pages of work by 800 scientists already published since September 2013, said global warming was now causing more heat extremes, downpours, acidifying the oceans and pushing up sea levels.

      They or the media or both lied, omitted, and distorted information. What’s new.

    3. So a bunch of scientists in the climate club, a club you may only join if you believe the end is near, all agree that the end is near.

      In other news, Christians agree that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, and Muslims agree that martyrdom ensures a ticket to Paradise.

      More at eleven.

  6. Bad news: I heard on Forbes that Crist has a 7-loint lead over Scott. Is there a way in which Florida does not suck?

    1. I don’t know how people don’t reject Crist by his appearance. He just oozes bullshit from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, like John Edwards and Lindsey Graham.

      1. He’s actually looks like the physical incarnation of politics. Not an evil ideology, just politics.

    2. Scott appears to be basing his campaign on this joke which he tells:

      “A Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Hello, Mr. Crist.”

    3. Is there a way in which Florida does not suck?

      Pollo Tropicale.

      1. I live in Florida and I agree. Everything else sucks but the weather. I don’t live here to be cold.

  7. Lessee, a professor of *Philosophy* commenting on capitalism…

    Next week, a lawyer lectures on surgical procedures…

    What does he find?

    “Capitalism works because of humanity’s inherent lack of kindness and generosity.”

    So… basically: ass, hole in the ground “they’re the same thing, right?”

    God forbid he ask a fucking ECONOMIST…

    I’m an economist- Capitalism works because it is the most efficient of all *possible* systems. Why… takes a while (and a large amount of calculus) to explain.

    Once again a jackass spews ignorant Marxist nonsense. ‘Marx said capitalism must be bad so it must be true, right?’ If Marx knew jack shit then EVERY nation that tried to apply his principles would not have turned into an impoverished totalitarian hellhole, would it?

    BTW, charities are *capitalist* enterprises.

    1. You seem to be putting words in his mouth. The claim that humanity ‘lacks kindness and generosity’ comes from the introduction, not from Brennan’s own statements. Furthermore, stuff like this:

      In principle, there are cases where an omni-benevolent, omniscient dictator could come in and fix the market and make it better. It’s rarely going to be the case in actuality that a person knows when and how to intervene. Given the limits of human knowledge, given the limits of peoples’ ability, and also just given their biases and so on and the fact that they’re likely to use this power selfishly rather than for our own good, I think it’s better not to empower them to do these things.

      seems to me to be spot on. His arguments about prices could also come straight from Hayek, so I don’t know what you’re griping about.

      1. Sorry, I fell ill just at the beginning…

        “In principle, there are cases where an omni-benevolent, omniscient dictator could come in and fix the market and make it better.”

        Actually, no, there aren’t. AT ALL. We actually studied this exact scenario, mostly because omniscient dictator systems are easier to solve than free market systems. An omniscient, omnibenevolent dictator can (actually will) MATCH but not exceed a free market system.

        Supply curve, demand curve, exactly ONE price that clears both markets (Qs = Qd), and that will be the capitalist free market price.

        The problem with socialism is not that “they don’t have a substitute for prices.” They don’t NEED a substitute for prices. They can use prices and set them anywhere they want. (or just allocate resources directly if they want) Reality will unfortunately ensure though. Bad prices lead to either excess supply or excess demand (=shortages).

        The problem with socialism is that they don’t have an efficient price setting mechanism. Arbitrary is a bad idea. There is only one correct price.

        Note a useful, special case scenario- one solitary (cave) man in a wilderness. No one else.

        Does he live in a perfectly free market system? Or a system with an omniscient, omnibenevolent dictator (himself)?

        The answer is, of course, yes. At a level of a single individual the systems are functionally identical. And thus the systems CANNOT give different results.

        1. “Supply curve, demand curve, exactly ONE price that clears both markets”

          Unemployment is the counterexample. Consider people who usually earn well above the minimum wage and have exceeded their unemployment insurance. If they are still unemployeed (and some are) then the market is not clearing.

          People who are Economists understand that downward sticky wages are the reason and in general they understand that free markets are rarely perfect as your rant implies.

          You are no Economist, just a poser.

          1. Unemployment is the counterexample. Consider people who usually earn well above the minimum wage and have exceeded their unemployment insurance. If they are still unemployeed (and some are) then the market is not clearing.

            Because there are no other factors in unemployment than “the market.”

            Jesus Tulpa, when you play lefty troll you get even more stupid and aggressively ignorant.

          2. Consider people who usually earn well above the minimum wage and have exceeded their unemployment insurance. If they are still unemployeed (and some are) then the market is not clearing.

            In other words, they have ceased to be as valuable as they once were and the market won’t bend to their will.

            Saying that you are owed a particular wage in perpetuity is to say that someone else owes you a payment of that wage in perpetuity.

            Yet if something comes along that allows 1 man to do the same work as 10 men used to be required to do, then he has devalued the labor to 10% of its previous value. You may have commanded $10/hour before, but now you command $1/hour.

            To demand more is of course your right, but to force someone to employ you above your clearing wage is not. There is always downward pressure on wages because there is downward pressure on prices imposed by the consumer.

            You are no Economist, just a poser.

            Pot, kettle.

  8. The problem with prices is that they don’t give the results that people want. People want everything to be cheap or free, and when prices are higher than what people want, they scream about how it is unfair.

    Then comes the politician who says that he can force prices to where they should be!

    “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

    ? Thomas Sowell

  9. For me, the greatest problem with socialism(s) is the notion that an oligarchy of Top Men knows how society should best work. Other problems include the stupid idea that labor time should be valued instead of the usefulness of the product to the consumer of it. Another is the notion that people could/should/would work together for a common good, forsaking all independant wants and needs. But still, the worst idea in socialism is its presumption that elites know what’s best for the rest of us.

  10. Ah, Labor Theory of Value. This is why J. K. Rowling is no more valuable an author than I am. Or why [current sports star] is no more valuable an athlete than I am. Or why Tom Cruise is no more valuable an actor than I am…

    1. Tom Cruise can’t act for a damn. His value lies in his ability to surround himself with people who have talent, creating the illusion that he has some.

  11. This is a straw man.

    The “socialism” described in this article is more like what people have traditionally called communism a la the Soviet Union and Castro’s Cuba. Progressives in general have not argued for this kind of policy in 50 years. Certainly no progressive that seriously studies economics has recently advocated for central planning.

    The importance of market pricing in efficiently allocating resources has long been recognized by economists such as Keynes who opposed using price controls for precisely the reasons described in this article. Even Galbraith only advocated using price controls during WWII in situations where there were already private sector price controls and no progressive has seriously suggested using price controls since WWII. (Nixon doesn’t count, obviously.)

    If one wants to argue against socialism, then use the Nordic countries as the model and explain how their approach can’t work.

    1. “Progressives in general have not argued for this kind of policy in 50 years. Certainly no progressive that seriously studies economics has recently advocated for central planning.”

      Hogwash. Progressives argue for nothing else. They ALWAYS argue for central planning. They may not argue for UNIVERSAL central planning, but they don’t argue for UNIVERSAL gun bans either, anymore, and for the same reasons. They mean to ratchet the planning up to universality, making specific arguments for each case, since they dare not argue openly for what they want.

      The problem is not “socialism” or “communism”. The problem is that, throughout history, government control of any part of the economy has been, on balance, a mistake. Kings, oligarchs, theocrats, and whatnot have always had what they thought were good reasons to seize control. And they have, often, managed to address the reason they seized control, at least at first. But in the long run the complexity of the economy has been beyond their ability to analyze, or even to encompass. Throughout history, where the government has attempted to command the economy, the result has been shortage, misery, and famine. Any small victories for planning have been offset by subsequent failures.

      1. Ctnd.

        Is the Market fair? Seldom, if ever. Is the Market rational? No more than people are. But the history of attempting to impose fairness and/or rationality from the top down is a history of abject failure.

        The Planners, furthermore, are not disinterested and benevolent Betters; they are would-be aristocrats who wish to establish and perpetuate their own power. And they are willing to use famine, mass murder, and terror to enforce their will. They always have been, and until men become angels they always will.

        Socialism works for ants. I have no desire to be an ant. If you do, your meds need adjusting.

      2. If you are going to claim “hogwash”, I expect a counter-example. Give an example of central planning proposed by progressives. Specifically give one that does not use prices as a signal for allocating resources.

        “Government control of any part of the economy has been, on balance, a mistake.” So you would argue against municipally constructed and maintained roads, instead preferring to see a toll gate at the end of your driveway?

        1. Hi again, T.

        2. “Specifically give on that does not use prices as a signal for allocating resources.”

          -Is this before or after they distort prices through overbearing regulation and that shit pile they call a tax code?

          1. I would suggest that the segment of the U.S. economy that is most effected by regulation is the medical drug and device market. You are suggesting that we should abolish the FDA?

            1. You are suggesting that we should abolish the FDA?

              This libertarian would abolish the FDA and every other regulatory agency. Courts are good enough.

              You like examples? OK. Coffee. McDonalds.

              1. The problem is that courts were not good enough. In the era of patent medicine charlatans people who bought the fraudulent drugs didn’t usually sue, they just stopped buying the medicine and in general refused to pay high prices even for effective drugs because no one knew which claims were honest and which were fraudulent.

                The FDA fixed this, and in general drug companies like this regulation because it ensures that the competitors are honest and offering safe and effective products. Without the FDA no one would invest in developing effective drugs.

            2. Another example. The country’s first environmentalist law was a court decision that shut down hydraulic mining. A farmer sued mining companies for the shit they were sending downstream, and the practice was banned. No regulatory agencies involved. Just the courts.

              Show me a river that caught fire, and I’ll show you some people downstream who couldn’t sue the people upstream because regulatory agencies made the rules, not the courts.

            3. “You are suggesting that we should abolish the FDA?”

              -Sure.

            4. Well, there have been multiple studies stromgly suggesting that by slowing drug development to a,crawl, the FDA has killed gar more people than it can reasonably claim to have saved.

              But you should know about me that I,would support a general drug legalisation, including such outliers as heroin and crystal meth.

              Every fricking generation views with mixed amusement and contempt the meddling impulses of generations past …. and then proceeds to meddle in the egomaniacle belief that THEY have the ONE TRUE WAY.

              The Progressives are no better suited to tell their fellow man how to live than were the Victorians, the Middle Ages Church, or the Priest-Kings of Egypt.

              And if you are not prepared to admit that the vast regulatory apparatus fostered by Progressives is central planning on its face, then you are too dishonest or too stupid to debate.

    2. It’s not a straw man. Brennan wrote this book in response to Cohen’s Why Not Socialism, which advances an argument for honest-to-God socialism on the basis of a camping trip (aka the old Brotherhood of Man argument).

      The Nordic countries aren’t remotely socialist. They have approximately the same economic liberty as the U.S. as a whole, which is to say that they’re more liberal than the most progressive states and less liberal than the most free states. Whatever you want to call states like the US or Sweden–social democracies, regulated capitalist democracies, open societies–they’re not socialist.

      1. “Brennan wrote this book in response to Cohen’s Why Not Socialism”. In that case, at least this article is a poor rebuttal. The point of “Why Not Socialism” is not that central control of an economy is good, but rather that sharing is. With their relatively high tax burdens and extensive income redistribution, sharing is exactly what socialist Nordic countries do.

        If you are going to claim that the Nordic countries are not socialist, you are using a definition of the term that most people would not recognize.

        1. Yes, he is using to correct definition not the one you and your ilk have tried to twist it into.

          1. If you insist on using the traditional definition of socialism: “a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy”, then why even publish the book since no one is proposing central planning as economic policy?

            1. Then why call it socialism as opposed to mixed economies? Why do progressives keep calling mixed economies socialist? Mixed economies are reliant on a robust market system to sustain the domestic welfare systems they have in place. Socialism is an archaic discredited system that needs to stay in shitcan of human experiments.

              1. I won’t argue definitions with you. My point is that the book is moot since no one is advocating the kind of economic system it criticizes.

                As for using socialism to refer to the Nordic economic system, why not? Most people use communism to refer to economies with central planning and shared ownership of the means of production.

                1. “As for using socialism to refer to the Nordic economic system, why not? Most people use communism to refer to economies with central planning and shared ownership of the means of production.”

                  -Because words have meaning. You are trying to turn people against capitalism by calling mixed economies socialist. Mixed economies have a market system in place. Your ilk is trying to redefine terms for nefarious reasons.

                  1. I never argued against capitalism. I argued that the kind of economic system described and criticized in this article (and in the book I surmise) is not advocated by progressives and has not been for several generations.

                    1. I argued that the kind of economic system described and criticized in this article (and in the book I surmise) is not advocated by progressives and has not been for several generations.

                      They kept mum about it “for several generations” lest they be compared unfavorably to the Soviets. The collapse of the Soviet Union has empowered them to take the mask off.

                      Progressivism has at its core central management of the economy. The marketplace is unfair, and the government can fix the unfairness. That is progressive orthodoxy.

                      Calling it socialism is not inapt, because it involves control with a “social benefit” aim. That it must ultimately progress to honest-to-God communism is a problem they refuse to address.

                      The reason that it has not progressed to communism has nothing to do with the beliefs of progressives themselves, but rather with the culture of wealth and liberty that stands in opposition to them.

                      When that culture is destroyed, or where it never existed in the first place, the progression to communism occurs rapidly. Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, etc.

                    2. Progressivism is really fascism, since it wants to control the existing market structure via central planning. Classic Fascism.

        2. With their relatively high tax burdens and extensive income redistribution, sharing is exactly what socialist Nordic countries do.

          And it’s worth noting that with the exception of Norway (oil) all the rest of the Scandinavian countries are poorer than the poorest U.S. states and have been getting poorer for the last 40 years (and subsequently been rolling back much of their government-mandated “sharing”).

          Eventually Norway will run out of oil and have to par back the current welfare state they enjoy, just like Denmark, Sweden, and Finland have had to do.

          Also, hi Tulpa!!

  12. Pargo, I don’t know whether you’re replying to the article or to me. Either way, you are wrong.

    The question is not whether socialism works but whether it is right. After all, slavery worked. But it was/is wrong. And socialism is wrong, as well as wrongheaded.

    As I said above, the biggest problem with socialism is the notion that elites know what’s best for the rest of us. Oligarchies are wrong, whether they be in Nordic countries, the EU, of the US EPA. Central control is just as bad–if not worse–than central planning. You contend that doing away with central planning of the economy makes some new socialism better than old socialism. But socialism is still wrong from its core.

    Starting even before Robert Owen, the idea of telling people how to live was wrongheaded and it remains so today. There is no redeeming quality to socialism–at all. It is an oligarchy pure and simple because it is based on a group of elites telling every other citizen how to live. And that’s is wrong–I don’t care whether it works.

    1. I was responding to the article, but now I will respond to your comments.

      Can a democratically elected government be an Oligarchy? I don’t think so. So a democratically elected government that chooses to implement socialist policies is not “wrong”.

      The article specifically claimed that the price signal is crucial to making an economy work and that this is what is wrong with “socialism”. My point is that the price signal is alive and well in what most of us refer to as socialist countries.

      1. “My point is that price signal is alive and well in what most of us refer to as socialist countries.”

        -Which country’s are those?

        1. Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

          1. They aren’t really socialist though. Granted they have generous welfare states and some active labor market interventions, but they also have moved to the right on economic policy in recent decades.

            For instance:

            “Since then the Nordics have changed course?mainly to the right. Government’s share of GDP in Sweden, which has dropped by around 18 percentage points, is lower than France’s and could soon be lower than Britain’s. Taxes have been cut: the corporate rate is 22%, far lower than America’s. The Nordics have focused on balancing the books. While Mr Obama and Congress dither over entitlement reform, Sweden has reformed its pension system (see Free exchange). Its budget deficit is 0.3% of GDP; America’s is 7%.

            On public services the Nordics have been similarly pragmatic. So long as public services work, they do not mind who provides them. Denmark and Norway allow private firms to run public hospitals. Sweden has a universal system of school vouchers, with private for-profit schools competing with public schools. Denmark also has vouchers?but ones that you can top up.”

            http://www.economist.com/news/…..supermodel

        2. The poster is confused about what socialism means, as he thinks that state robbing Peter to pay Paul constitutes socialism. Socialism is much, much worse.

          1. As I posted above, if you insist on central planning or collective (government) ownership of the means of production in order to consider a system socialist, then what is the point? No one is (or has been for many years) arguing for these systems.

            Note, in my original post I suggested that this article is addressing a straw man since no one advocates the kind of central planning described.

            1. We’re not the ones using the wrong definitions.

              1. So what is the point of this article (and the book)? That an economic system endorsed by no one is bad? Pointless.

                1. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 7:24PM|#
                  “So what is the point of this article (and the book)? That an economic system endorsed by no one is bad?”

                  You need to get out more:
                  “New Poll: Socialism is Gaining Popularity in America”
                  http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/9655
                  “Communism” gains ground among Americans”
                  http://www.peoplesworld.org/co…..americans/

                  1. You cite two polls that did not even define the terms socialism and communism in their questions. Who knows what people thought they meant.

                    In my original post I stated:
                    “Progressives in general have not argued for this kind of policy in 50 years. Certainly no progressive that seriously studies economics has recently advocated for central planning.”

                    This is why I think the article is at least moot.

                    1. “Progressives in general have not argued for this kind of policy in 50 years. Certainly no progressive that seriously studies economics has recently advocated for central planning.”

                      What would you call O-care, if not centrally-planned?
                      What would you call the QE program if not centrally-planned?
                      What would you call the push for higher W/M if not centrally-planned?
                      How about moonbeam’s choo-choo in CA; think that’s a dispersed decision? The likely illegal funding of green-energy companies?

                    2. Quantitative easing. You are also opposed to the idea of a central bank or do you just not like this policy?

                      Obamacare. The is a good example of government management of a portion of the economy (health insurance). I agree, and this is a rare case where clearly free markets fail. So yes, in the face of a massive failure of markets to provide goods, government has a responsibility to regulate the market.

                      California high-speed rail. Close call. Are you opposed to all infrastructure projects? How about local roads? Where do you draw the line on providing infrastructure for the common good?

                      W/M ??? please explain in words.

                      bonus: how did Jerry Brown get the moonbeam moniker?

                    3. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 8:19PM|#
                      “Quantitative easing. You are also opposed to the idea of a central bank or do you just not like this policy?”

                      Irrelevant; centrally planned.
                      —————–
                      “Obamacare. The is a good example of government management of a portion of the economy (health insurance). I agree, and this is a rare case where clearly free markets fail.”

                      Bullshit
                      ————-
                      “So yes, in the face of a massive failure of markets to provide goods, government has a responsibility to regulate the market.”

                      Your bullshit justification is noted, along with your admission that indeed, ‘progressives advocate’ central planning.
                      ————-
                      “California high-speed rail. Close call. Are you opposed to all infrastructure projects? How about local roads? Where do you draw the line on providing infrastructure for the common good?”

                      Irrelevant questions; again, noted that you admit you’re wrong.
                      ————
                      “W/M ??? please explain in words.”

                      My mistake; M/W; minimum wage.

                    4. All people (well, all reasonable people) advocate central planning when markets fail, and they sometimes do. No one is advocating that central planning in general is preferable to using price signaling to allocate resources.

                      I’m intrigued by the Q/E issue. Are you opposed to a central bank?

                    5. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 8:40PM|#
                      “All people (well, all reasonable people) advocate central planning when markets fail, and they sometimes do.”

                      Assertion minus evidence
                      —————–
                      “No one is advocating that central planning in general is preferable to using price signaling to allocate resources.”

                      Goal posts on wheels? Or did you just slide it to the new position?
                      —————–
                      “I’m intrigued by the Q/E issue. Are you opposed to a central bank?

                      Not interested in that discussion now, but Q/E is not structural to a central bank
                      —————–
                      I see you ducked the M/W; too ‘centralized’?

                    6. Markets are people doing what people do. There is no such thing as market failure. Maybe the market doesn’t do what you want it to do. But asserting that a market failed is like calling a drought a weather failure.

                      Markets don’t fail–expectations do.

                    7. And even in a drought, central planning could easily be the worst of the alternatives, so Pargo is hitting 0.000.
                      Hey Pargo, you said:
                      “So what is the point of this article (and the book)? That an economic system endorsed by no one is bad?”
                      And then YOU endorsed it. How would you like the crow done?

                    8. My point is that no one is endorsing central planning as the primary method of running an economy. You seem to be taking the position that any central planning is socialism and therefore bad.

                      Let’s look at health insurance (since you cited it). Can you show a country with a free market health insurance system that works?

                    9. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 10:51PM|#
                      “My point is that no one is endorsing central planning as the primary method of running an economy.”

                      You know, shoving the goal posts around really doesn’t help your argument. And you’re still full of it; see Cuba.
                      ————–
                      “You seem to be taking the position that any central planning is socialism and therefore bad.”

                      Well, yes. Are you claiming that just a little bit of socialism isn’t really socialism? That rape has to be rape-rape to be rape? How much weaseling do you need for your argument?
                      ————-
                      “Let’s look at health insurance (since you cited it). Can you show a country with a free market health insurance system that works?

                      Gee, did you see me claim that? Do I need to point out how transparent that sort of logical failure is?

                    10. “see Cuba.”
                      And US Cuban apologists!

                    11. I see, you are a purist, any government involvement in an economy is socialism and therefore bad.

                      Can you see how that never works? Your refusal to actually look at any specific subject (like health insurance) suggests that you have no interest in policy that actually works, only in intellectual purity. Enjoy your ivory tower.

                    12. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:09PM|#
                      “I see, you are a purist, any government involvement in an economy is socialism and therefore bad.”

                      I see. You’re a slimy apologist hoping sophomoric loaded questions would ‘trap’ someone.
                      Fuck off, slaver. You been busted.
                      ——————–
                      “Can you see how that never works? Your refusal to actually look at any specific subject (like health insurance) suggests that you have no interest in policy that actually works, only in intellectual purity.”

                      Oh, look! Utilitarian claims jobs digging and filling holes are wonderful!
                      Fuck off, slaver.
                      ———–
                      “Enjoy your ivory tower.”

                      Enjoy your slavery.

                    13. Of course there is market failure. Specifically a failure to clear a market. What do you think is going on with labor right now?

                    14. What’s going on with labor is regulation. Businesses are waiting for the next shoe to drop and avoiding hiring too many people until they know how they will be effected.

                      That’s not a failure of the market. It’s progressivism at its worst.

                    15. Really? You think that a business that believes it could increase earnings by expanding is choosing to not expand because they are worried about some future cost of having employees? Do you know how easy it is to lay people off?

                      Also, the word you are looking for is “affected”, not “effected”. (Unless you think the businesses are wondering about how they will be created.) Try not to verify Akira’s relatives opinion about the grammar of conservatives.

                    16. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:18PM|#
                      “Really? You think that a business that believes it could increase earnings by expanding is choosing to not expand because they are worried about some future cost of having employees?”

                      Yes, slaver, that is quite obvious to any employer. I presume you’re stupid enough to claim that employers enjoy firing people.
                      ——————–
                      “Also, the word you are looking for is “affected”, not “effected”.”

                      Oh, good! A slaver who is blind to logic decides to become a grammar-nazi!
                      How
                      .
                      .
                      .
                      .
                      pathetic.

                    17. Dumb. I’m not a conservative, so whatever Akira thinks is unrelated. But you are economically challenged. You think that hiring and firing is like turning the lights on and off. Probably because you’ve never done it. That would easily explain your ignorance.

                      Just in case you are merely naive I’ll tell you that there are costs in hiring that are not recovered in firing. If that’s not enough for you to get it, then I can’t do any more.

                      Furthermore, hiring comes with expansion, and expansion includes equipment and other purchases that are also not easily reversible. It’s expansion that is on hold these days. Expansion requires optimism and Obama’s progressivism just squashes that.

                      In last analysis you are just a progressive who can’t be bothered to take reality into account because your fantasy seems so complete from your constricted worldview.

                      Both progressivism and socialism share the notion that government decree is enough to make something happen. It’s an addictive perspective, for sure, because it’s easy. And it’s easy because it requires no attention to reality wherein problem solving is usually messy and difficult, and unintended consequences surprise even the most ardent dreamer. Is there any wonder that lesser socialists are awestricken?

                    18. Uh adding a second shift doesn’t cost near as much as how much money you are going to make if your products are highly profitable.

                      At the medical products company I worked at we ran 4 shifts and are now back down to one shift as production was moved offshore. The company did this quite happily and the people were brought in and flushed out within the space of 5 years.

                    19. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 10:54PM|#
                      “Of course there is market failure. Specifically a failure to clear a market. What do you think is going on with labor right now?”

                      Oh, yes! Labor is a free market!
                      Uh, Pargo, how stupid do you wish to prove yourself? I see you’ve yet to respond to the M/W comment above; do you think there is none now?

                    20. Really, you are going to claim that the minimum wage distorts the labor market and causes unemployment? Are you going to claim that currently high unemployment is due to some government distortion of the labor market? Can you actually make a coherent argument or do you just cite the existence of a government intervention and then dismiss the entire market as distorted?

                    21. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:12PM|#
                      “Really, you are going to claim that the minimum wage distorts the labor market and causes unemployment?”

                      You’re stupid enough to claim otherwise?!
                      Fuck off, slaver.

                    22. No, I’m subtle enough to know that one distortion is not necessarily the root cause of everything that occurs in the market. Unemployment among experienced, well educated professionals is not due to minimum wage laws.

                    23. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:22PM|#
                      “No, I’m subtle enough to know that one distortion is not necessarily the root cause of everything that occurs in the market.”

                      “Subtle” = an apologist; got it.
                      ——————
                      “Unemployment among experienced, well educated professionals is not due to minimum wage laws.”

                      Man, you are a PRO at moving those goal posts!
                      Why do you hate brown and black kids getting jobs? Might it be that you’re a lefty ignoramus?
                      Why, yes, I think that’s it!

                    24. Why would you suggest that I oppose minorities getting jobs? Are you assuming that I support minimum wage laws and that those laws do cause less employment for low wage workers?

                      Let’s assume for a moment that you are correct and that I do support minimum wage laws and I do know that such laws decrease employment for low wage workers. I also know that they increase income for low wage workers as a class and that said increased income creates more opportunity for this class. So, yes, I’m for minimum wage because it puts more money in the pockets of brown and black kids,

                    25. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:38PM|#
                      “So, yes, I’m for minimum wage because it puts more money in the pockets of brown and black kids,”

                      You’re a fucking lefty ignoramus; it gets them fired:
                      “Here’s The Burger-Flipping Robot That Could Put Fast-Food Workers Out Of A Job”

                      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com…..z3HylFbaSI

                    26. Here is a summary of the CBO’s estimate of the consequences of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10/hour.

                      “if the $10.10 option was implemented ?

                      Once the increases and decreases in income for all workers are taken into account, overall real income would rise by $2 billion. ?

                      Real income would increase, on net, by $5 billion for families whose income will be below the poverty threshold under current law, ?

                      Families whose income would have been between one and three times the poverty threshold would receive, on net, $12 billion in additional real income.

                      About $2 billion, on net, would go to families whose income would have been between three and six times the poverty threshold. ?

                      Real income would decrease, on net, by $17 billion for families whose income would otherwise have been six times the poverty threshold or more,”

                      So, minimum wage is re-distributive. You may oppose income redistribution, but don’t claim that this policy is bad for poor people.

                    27. I meant to include, this analysis also estimates that there will be a reduction of 500,000 workers if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10/hour.

                      My argument is that the total increase in income for poor people benefits them even though fewer people will be employed.

                    28. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:13AM|#
                      “I meant to include, this analysis also estimates that there will be a reduction of 500,000 workers if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10/hour.
                      My argument is that the total increase in income for poor people benefits them even though fewer people will be employed.”

                      Yes, in spite of all evidence, lefty ignoramuses presume that this time, it’ll be different! That guy Lenin? Why, he just wasn’t smart enough! They know better than the distributed knowledge of millions, since they have such a wonderful record of success! Leave it to assholes like Pargo, and everything will be just ducky!
                      Fuck off, slaver.

                    29. I also know that they increase income for low wage workers as a class and that said increased income creates more opportunity for this class. So, yes, I’m for minimum wage because it puts more money in the pockets of brown and black kids,

                      No, it doesn’t. Increases in costs raises prices, which nullifies the increase in wages. Duh! The only way to truly increase somebody’s income is to increase their output. Technology and education does that. Government intervention does not. But you can’t be bothered by these facts. You are too wedded to socialistic manipulation.

                      Socialism is not a question of who owns the means of production. It is a question of who has responsibility. You, and your socialist/progressive friends place the blame for all ailments on society and seek therefore to manipulate it. This is socialism: manipulating society to make it pay for the ills that you believe it created.

                      Because individuals are ultimately responsible for themselves–no matter what you’d prefer–any manipulation of society fails to meet your intended goals and typically produces some nasty unintended consequences.

                    30. “Increases in costs raises prices, which nullifies the increase in wages”

                      Please notice how CBO states “real income”. That real means after taking inflation into account. You do know how to read an economic analysis, right?

                    31. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:28AM|#
                      …”You do know how to read an economic analysis, right?”

                      You know the CBO analysis is not a ‘real’ analysis, right?

                    32. Who do you rely on for modeling the likely consequences of policy? Do you have a better reference for estimating the consequences of raising the minimum wage?

                    33. Markets are manipulated all the time. Is that a failure or not?

                2. Again, philosophy prof Brennan wrote Why Not Capitalism? as a response to philosophy prof Cohen’s tract Why Not Socialism? His cover is even a play on Cohen’s. It’s a left-libertarian’s response to a socialist’s argument.

                  Many philosophers remain socialist. Rarely economists, though, as the collapse of the USSR led the technocratically minded to Krugman-style socdem and welfare statism based on market activity and price systems. We complain about Krugman endlessly, but the man is Murray Rothbard compared to the stuff spewed by communists and real socialists. Krugman, for instance, would never write a book encouraging people to transition to a moneyless system for the sake of morality. The importance of markets is embedded in modern economics.

                  Philosophers exist to justify their positions via argument, which means that you’ll frequently have wily debaters and good authors defending a wide variety of crazy positions. Socialism is one such position, and as long as there are talented rhetoricians who publicly support it, we need to publicly oppose it to prevent Kropotkin’s good intentions (to put it mildly–many socialists sacrificed everything to advance the brotherhood of man) from turning into Stalin’s eight-figure body count again.

                  1. I have not read either book, but I have read enough reviews to have a good sense of what is in them. I continue to think based on this article that “Why Not Capitalism?” is a poor argument against “Why Not Socialism?” because the practical (aside from the question of the morality of property rights) criticism so deeply depends on the importance of free markets and pricing as a signal for allocating resources, but Cohen specifically recognizes the importance of the price signal.

                    In fact, as near as I can tell, Cohen’s model socialist society seems very close to current Nordic policy: let free markets operate but tax heavily and redistribute. This is similar to Cohen’s letting people make individual choices but expecting sharing of resources so no one is excessively inconvenienced.

                    Some people on this board objected to me referring to the Nordic countries as socialist, but what they do seem to be very close to what Cohen proposes. If people insist on a different name for it, fine, but the name doesn’t change what Cohen is discussing.

                    As far as resisting socialism to avoid an eight-figure body count, I have a hard time seeing Sweden’s social-welfare system turning into Stalin’s totalitarian state.

                  2. Many philosophers remain socialist. Rarely economists, though

                    You do realize that economics is not a real science and is really philosophy. There is no way to falsify anybodies claim in any social science. There are no repeatable experiments that can be run to prove anything. Society changes all the time and different cultures respond differently for there to be any universal truths. The only truths are related to the physical world – we all got to eat and we do pretty crazy things when we are starving.

                    Economists never admit they were wrong only that we didn’t do enough of what they suggested.

  13. OT: For those of you with heavily progressive families who insist on talking about politics at family gatherings, how do you deal with it?

    I just came back from dinner and had to listen to them harp on about how corporations aren’t people, Liz Warren will win the presidency and usher in a utopia, and jokes about how conservatives are incapable of good grammar.

    I’m just left with this horrible feeling… It’s kind of like an unshakeable awareness that there are countless people in the country who will enthusiastically vote for despotic socialism while believing that all of the opposition is just out to enslave us in the yoke of corporations making us buy stuff or whatever…

    How do you DEAL with this??

    1. “How do you DEAL with this??”

      I make it clear that I disagree and if they would prefer to continue the discussion, I’ll be more than happy to do so, including mustering facts that they might not like to hear.
      Often enough, someone at that point suggests politics might not be a good subject, but if not, fuck ’em; they get the cannon-load!

    2. No one who seriously follows politics, whether progressive or conservative, thinks that Elizabeth Warren could even win the nomination, let alone the presidency. However, how do you get from her to supporting “despotic socialism”?

      1. You’ve already proven yourself to be a a lefty ignoramus.
        Fuck off, slaver.

        1. So you have given up rational debate and sunk to name calling? Very free-minded.

          1. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:27PM|#
            “So you have given up rational debate and sunk to name calling? Very free-minded.”

            You had your 15 minutes of ‘rational debate’, and then the mask slipped and it became quite obvious you were not here to debate, but to try some sophistry in the hopes someone would buy your bullshit.
            You’ve been busted, slaver. Fuck off.

            1. Sophistry is making an argument one knows is false because one think that it will be effective, even though false. Your accusation that I am engaging in sophistry suggests that you know what I believe to be right and that I am arguing contrary to that belief.

              How do you know what I think?

              1. Are you still here?
                Fuck off, slaver; you’ve gotten every bit of attention you deserve and more.

                1. As I thought. You don’t know what the words you use mean and when I call you on it you resort to vulgarity. By the way, you haven’t responded to my answer on minimum wage above. Why? Can’t you deal with the facts?

                  1. Pargo|11.2.14 @ 11:55PM|#
                    …”you resort to vulgarity”…

                    Fuck off, slaver. Is that clear?

                    1. It’s clear that you are vulgar. Is that the impression you wish to leave on those who disagree with you?

                    2. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:15AM|#
                      …”Is that the impression you wish to leave on those who disagree with you?”

                      Uh, hypocrites who show up claiming to deal with facts and then show they are nothing other than slimy lefty propagandists?
                      Am I worried about the impression I leave on assholes like that?
                      NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
                      Fuck off, slaver.

                    3. You don’t know the difference between nominal and real income and you accuse me of being a propagandist?

                      Congratulations, you have completed the image of an ignorant, vulgar, close-minded conservative.

                    4. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:31AM|#
                      “Congratulations, you have completed the image of an ignorant, vulgar, close-minded conservative.”

                      Congratulations, asshole! You have completed the image of a lefty hypocrite hoping some sophistry would foll those smarter than you.
                      Fuck off, slaver.

                    5. Ummm … don’t you remember, sophistry, doesn’t mean what you think it does. Where is Inigo Montoya when I need him?

    3. My family is a blue collar D sort orignally. I worked in the logging industry for over 30 years and watched the Forest Service become a uselsess suck of a .GOV agency.That and watermelon greens who reign here in Montana drove me toward libertarianism.

      It’s a tough sell, that big government is beyond control and that both tribes are guilty.

      Case in point, a teacher in my city wrote a LTE complaing about a lack of respect and salary and of course top heavy administration. I pointed out if there were no dep’t of Ed more tax dollars would stay at home leaving more money for him and less for DC bureaucrats. The fact that a lot of the bloated admin in local schools is to deal with DoE strings that are attached to Fed Ed dollars.

      People just haven’t noticed the fed mission creep over the years. Last summer I was taking a drive with my Dad and we drove by a new city/county building. A fucking huge complex 20 times the size of city hall when I was a kid 45 years ago.

      Media don’t ask any relevant questions and cheer lead for more .Gov. Shit will eventually hit the fan. Until then just hang in there.

      1. Federal funds are approximately 13% of K-12 spending. Why not just forego the federal funds if they come with too many strings attached?

        If one state did this and was successful, other states would follow and the federal education budget would dry up for lack of interest.

        1. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:23AM|#
          “Federal funds are approximately 13% of K-12 spending. Why not just forego the federal funds if they come with too many strings attached?”

          I’ll presume you are not only a lefty lying twit, but someone too young to understand the control unions have over elected officials.
          I’m being nice; the alternative is that you are simply a lying piece of shit.

          1. Public school teachers total about 3.3 million and approximately 127 million people voted in the last election. Even if they all voted, teachers would represent about 2.5% of the voters. In addition, teachers are paid about the median family income in the U.S., so they don’t have excessive economic clout. Exactly how does this small, economically modest, group capture elected officials?

            1. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:56AM|#
              “Public school teachers total about…”

              So I was wrong; you are simply a lying piece of shit.
              Fine.
              Fuck off, slaver.

            2. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 12:56AM|#
              “Public school teachers total about 3.3 million”

              Let’s put it another way, shitstain.
              Do you think anyone here is fooled by your pile of shit?
              Do you think we haven’t heard that line of propaganda before?
              Are you such a raging ignoramus to think you can fool thinking people with that lefty drivel?
              Fuck off, slaver.

              1. Interesting, having given up (after being confronted with a real analysis) on the minimum wage issue you now resort to vulgarity when I confront you with a rational question you have no convenient answer to. You really are an embarrassment to conservatives.

                1. Pargo|11.3.14 @ 1:08AM|#
                  “Interesting,”…

                  Interesting, having been caught lying in every particular, you, as a slimy lefty, presume you still have some modicum of cred with which to call me out?
                  Why, as a serial liar, would you presume so? Do you hope people are as stupid as you?
                  Oh, and fuck off, slaver.

        2. Actually define success to a government organization. That is the problem. I my opinion many government programs exist purely to give jobs to useless affirmative action hires.

          There is nothing wrong with the schools except the demographics of the students have changed. Therefore there will be no measurable success so take the money and blow it.

          People cry that the teachers aren’t “teaching” any more or that somehow they need to explain things better. Do they really think the teachers back then were better. I even hear this about college. When some dufus who scored 450 on the math SAT is let in as an AA admit and can’t pass freshman calculus, it is supposedly the fault of the professor who has a class of 200 and is really there to teach graduate students math the average undergrad can’t even comprehend.

    4. Re: horrible feelings, when I’m overwhelmed by the idiocy of the political process, I focus on the choices and luxuries we enjoy right now as a consequence of markets and innovation. It would be better if we didn’t have a huge state wasting our resources and killing innocent people, but life is still better today in absolute terms compared to 100 years ago. Plus we don’t have to worry about the draft or starvation or polio. It’s no utopia, but in absolute terms, we live a far richer life than people in Jefferson’s day.

      Libertarians like to hold doom-and-gloom competitions to see who can be the most pessimistic about the future, but narcissistic rulers have always been a feature of states. Once you view the bad politician as a given rather than an unpleasant surprise, you can resume living your life by focusing on the good rather than all the cancer, decapitations, and Harry Reids.

  14. capitalism works for a couple of reasons, assuming we’re talking about the same “capitalism” here, which requires a few important features

    let’s start simply and go more advanced as we go down the list
    -basic property rights and contract enforcement on the small scale. People invest in things with work and money when they can expect to be paid back, and all the other basic elements. Note that this requires a “capitalism” with no nobility class that has special rights, and can’t have so many regulations that any cop and arrest anyone for any claimed reason as a way to threaten to get graft. We like to think we don’t have that, but I suspect the issue is that most people by now have enough money to sue the government when they try this, whereas most countries are where we were in the 1800s. That is, if we had had modern levels of regulation, we would never have developed

    1. -strongly protected land rights and subsequent contracts, specifically so INFRASTRUCTURE can develop. Again, as mentioned above, there’s the huge problem in the 3rd world where the cops want a cut of every business, and ultimately they’ll ask for bigger cuts until the bankrupt any business endeavor. And they don’t care if it means they stop getting their cut and the country doesn’t get to develop. This is why the important infrastructure never gets developed in the first place. In the first world, the utility companies started buying up easements and building lines (water, gas, electric, trains, anything), and while they are often a source of regulatory capture/graft, it’s only from large group interests, like the unions, who NEED the infrastructure to exist to get their cut.

      1. – Note that in America and a few similar countries, we had HOMESTEADING. A LOT of people got pieces of land, so the slow development of the country could NOT happen without a lot of people cashing in on it in some way. Even without or before selling land rights, you could support yourself and produce excess to sell from the land (they were large lots in big countries

  15. -personal freedom, and the freedom to leave. This is harder for me to put into words, but I get the feeling that a large part of the prosperity is just in the freedom to pursue YOUR OWN values. Note that this is both economic and cultural. Trying to smush someone into a position that isn’t a good fit for them doesn’t really create the most productivity out of people, and you can’t really know what other people want to buy, and trying to tell them what to buy would probably also mess with their lives and hamper productivity. I’m thinking of personal purchasing and lifesyle decisions, as well as emigration, as well as the ability to just LEAVE a place if it gets too oppressive. Addressing that last one, for example, our alimony and child support laws have clearly become insanely oppressive against men, but luckily it’s pretty easy ( I imagine) to just move to a new state to skip out on the $2,500 and bajillion a month it apprently costs to raise a kid and punishment for being such an indecent guy as to marry a woman. All these things added up over the past like 130 years, like the Italian and irish immigrations into America, which got rid of the poor in their countries, and said people then became rich over time in here.

    I dunno stuff like that

  16. Utopia, regardless from what “-ism” it may hope to spring, is simply unobtainable. Utopia does not exist. It cannot exist. Why? Because human beings are involved. Wherever you find human beings, you find them being human: kind, generous, loving, peaceful but also evil, mean, wicked and nasty. There are always those, regardless of culture, class, income, etc. that take advantage of any given situation to the hurt of others.

  17. I support the author and the idea of the book. When there was a time of socialism I wasn’t even born yet but still I know what it is. Capitalism is based on the world capital. People work to create this capital and if they succeed they become wealthy. Capitalism gives everyone an opportunity to make himself. Yes, we live not in perfect times. Society is divided on classes where everybody eager to be rich but the middle class is the basic one, to my opinion. It’s hard to say that this life is perfect. Some people live through cash advance loans online and don’t know how to make ends meet. But I think that in conditions of capitalism all of us have opportunities for becoming financially independent and making their American dream come true.

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  19. This is seriously what the left has been reduced to.
    Arguing that humanity should turn their lives over to a giant super-computer.

  20. The best economic system is well regulated capitalism, where worker rights and environmental protection always trump profits and greed.

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