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Unread postby lessthanpleased » Sun May 14, 2006 9:30 pm

football11f wrote:
Neal wrote:The above quotation is clearly and distinctly untrue at best and ignorant at worst, plain and simple.


:?


Ah, you're confused. Let me enlighten you.

Interesting. So what you're saying is that Plato, Archimedes and other ancient thinkers came up with their ideas because the Athenian and Roman governments built libraries?


No, and it's obvious that you're either unfamiliar with intellectual history to have so little understanding of the marketplace of ideas in Ancient Greece to have so mischaracterized my point or, alternatively, are building a strawman to attack which is a logical fallacy.

The earliest of modern philosophers- Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes- were not a product of mercantilism, corporations (or their ancient equivalent), or anything resembling free enterprise or economic profit. Rather, they were a product of the advantages their society had provided them. So too with early mathematicians in Egypt of the priestly caste: rather than doing what they did for profit, they did what they did as an outgrowth of faith, devotion, and religion: all of which, might I add, were state sponsored.

As for the Greeks with whom you may be familiar, you are correct in that Plato did not open the Academy for free. However, it bears mentioning that Plato's Academy bears more of a resemblance to federal land grant universities (which are public) than it does to private institutions: Plato was landed aristocracy, and this university was not opened to turn a profit or to make money: it was opened to better the civic good of Athens (the very heart of Socrates- who, as you may or may not know, was Plato's mentor and teacher).

As a further point, Socrates, the father of philosophy, refused to charge money for his instruction. He accepted money from those who could afford it, but he refused to charge the youth of the city: he wanted to nurture their souls and better the civic good of Athens, and died to prove that having a healthy soul is better than having a rotting body. I trust I don't have to walk you step by step through the critique of capitalism that lies within that tenet.

Also consider Pythagoras and his philosophy/religion of Pythagoreanism: rather than being a private institution in the normal sense of the world, Pythagoras founded a hippy cult of subsistence farming vegetarians who did math all day. They produced the Pythagorean theorem, as well as many of the mathematical concepts taught in schools around the world.

Now, I know that you're thinking, "wait, certainly there have to be some thinkers in intellectual history who cared about making money so that I won't have been so embarassingly incorrect." And I would say, "There certainly are, Boran." Consider the sophists: contemporary with Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and all but the earliest of Western philosophers, the sophists embodied capitalism. The aim of their philosophy was to "make the weaker argument the stronger" and appeal to emotions in order to win arguments: sounds like the foundation of fascism rhetoric, right? The sophists' only purpose was to be very successful teachers and orators, and did do much good for the field of logic: however, all of Western thought is based upon Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and their philosophies direclty refute and repudiate the idea of sophistry. Thus- and this proves my point- even the philosophies that result in the concept of capitalism are directly dependent upon the public works and civic duty that are part of parcel of the philosophical influences in question: you can't reject public works without first having had public works to reject, and this reaction would never have been needed were the sum of influences at that point in time not the result of the concept being rejected.

Let's move on:

Are you saying that without government built temples there would have been no religion? Are you saying that had the Roman government not subsidized companies to build aquedeucts that we would still be living in huts? Give me a break Neal.


I've already given you a break: it was to meekly agree with me and recant. Moving on, my answer to your two questions is "Possibly" and "Probably".

There would certainly be religion without the temples in question, but it is unclear whether or not religion would be in any way as rarefied and codified as it is now, and certainly could not have dominated Western culture the way that it did. Religion would- in my opinion, at least- have stayed deeply personal and linked to one or several small communities rather than the globe-dominating thing it is today. In other words, the Catholic Church and Muslim faiths would not have had the resources to preserve knowledge during the Middle Ages without cathedrals and mosques providing an "earthly presence" and, more importantly, revenue with which to preserve the knowledge in question. This presence and this revenue are the direct result of public works. QED.

Now, as for your contention about aqueducts and sewers: the only way that cities can survive is with water and waste disposal. A lack of either can cause disease or, worse, death. Sewers and aqueducts allowed cities to grow both vertically and horizontally, and directly allowed a true aristocratic class to maintain itself in the ancient world. It seems to me that you are thinking that assembly lines are more significant than creating clean water for the workers to drink and disposing of waste to ensure that pestilence doesn't kill off the manufacturers: this is, of course, a very foolish idea.

The greatest institutions of learning in the ancient world were not built by states. The Academy of Athens was founded by Plato himself and became the center of pagan thought until the reign of Justinian in the 6th century.


See above. If you'd like an example of a true "private" academy in the ancient world, I would advise you to consider Xenophon's academy opened up to compete with Plato's. Then, when you can't find anything, consider the fact that a free market isn't always a good thing.

The Great Library of Alexandria, which at one point held over 500,000 Ancient texts, was built by the father of Ptolomey II as a private pursuit.


That's very fair, although I would say that in this discussion it is wise to not import unnecessarily anachronistic ideas of public and private in this conversation: given that things are so different, when I refer to public works I am referring to buildings given over to public use by aristocratic families. Since so many ruling families contended for power at different times or held many governmental positions, I think this is quite reasonable (as do historians I've talked to about this sort of thing). Now, you may be correct that the Library of Alexandria was built by Ptolemy's faither. Consider this, however: out of the Palatine Library at the Temple of Apollo in Rome, the Library at Trajan's Baths in Rome, the Library at Caracalla's Baths in Rome, Hadrian's Library in Athens, the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, and the Library of Pergamon, only the library of Celsus was not a direct result of public works (in this case, endowment by an emperor).

As a second note, if Ptolemy's father (or any of the other potential founders touted around) were the creator, then this library is a public work. Firstly: all potential founders were government officials (in the case of Ptolemy's father, he was attempting to turn Alexandria into a cultural mecca and making it his prize). Secondly: excavations in 2003 have found sections of the library and, most interestingly, multiple lecture halls that would seat a total of 5000 students. Thirdly: the government was charged with the library's maintenance, which explained the Alexandrine policy of seizure of all books that entered the city and their transcription (originals were stored in the library, while travelers received the transcriptions). Fourthly: the library was open to scientists, scholars, and travelers from around the world to learn and increase their knowledge.

Again, maybe I'm crazy, but a building built by a government official, maintained by the government, and open to scholars from around the world sounds like a public work to me.

The centers of knowledge in Western Europe were destroyed as the Western Roman Empire fell apart. Literacy in Western Europe plummeted as feudalism, with independent command economies dotting the region, made families much more concerned about putting food on the table than reading the Illiad. Human knowledge survived in the Muslim world where lax government allowed private enterprise to flourish.


Incorrect. Human knowledge survived in the Muslim world because the early Muslim faith was stridently intellectual. Averoes and Avicenna were noted Platonists and Aristotelians, and their disciples ensured the survival of Western texts as testament to the glory of Allah. The survival of the things in question has far more to do with sociology than economics, and the fact that all of these things were essentially excised from the Muslim world with the rise of the anti-transcendent imams and anti-intellectual imams (who killed the intellectual imams) speaks volumes to this fact. The economic factors you speak of were certainly there, but were not a cause; rather, they were an effect of the sociological ideals that were in place at the time.

The standard of living in those regions were much higher than they were in Western Europe, allowing families to send their children to school and research mathematics and science. Western Europeans got a taste of this during the crusades, but did not recover intellectually until the renaissance which was fueled by prosperous trading cities in Italy and the Netherlands.


See above.

Now let's consider the aquedeucts and sewers. The most famous sewer built was the Cloaca Maxima in the city of Rome. This sewer drained the marshes around the city which undoubtedly improved overall hygene. However, the sewer itself was built by forced labor to keep the costs low, as were almost every public works project in the ancient world. Are you willing to argue that the human cost of constructing such structures were worth the results?


From a societal perspective, absolutely. From a moral perspective, no. But the eradication of disease generated from improperly disposed of waste, tainted water, and other things had an unfathomable impact on Western life, and layed the foundation of knowledge which allowed human cities to be built in locations without immediately accessible water. This advancement is one of the many things that allows capitalism to work: without aqueducts and sewers, it would often be impossible to create mining colonies in mountainous regions without a readily accessible water supply.

The same applies to public works projects. If 1 million gold pieces are used to build an aqueduct, that's 1 million gold pieces that can't be used to build a hospital, or a school, or public a book. The labor dedicated to the project means that that labor is not able to construct those schools, or those hospitals, or publish books. Since the private sector is undoubtedly better at allocating resources than the government, any public works project is a waste of society's resources.


This is not an argument against the efficacy of public works, it's an argument against taxation. It has nothing to do with the fact that you made the unsupportable contention that corporations have done more good for society than public works ever have.

Note how democracy tends to arise when society's prosper. Ancient Athens was one of, if not the richest Greek city state when democracy replaced the tyrants. The Englightenment only took hold in Europe as an "intellectual elite" developed out of the wealthier European capitalists. Today democracy falters in the poorest regions of the world while booming in the wealthier countries of North America, Europe and South Asia. Indeed, 50 years ago Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all poor dictatorships. Today they are some of the freest economies and societies in the world.


Irrelevant to the argument at hand. I'm stating that public works allowed the concept of democracy to survive so that it could be implemented. You're stating that corporations are more important than the survival of democracy through the cataloguing of ancient texts in public libraries.

Obviously governments have written our books, made advances in science and mathematics, provided citizens with the products they desire and increased our standard of living. After all, the public works of the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Cuba, North Korea, China and Venezuala greatly improved the quality of society as a whole. That's why Eastern Europe had the cleanest environment, and is why today Venezualans are so prosperous.


Wow, what a way to evade the question at hand. I'm saying that overall public works have done more good for society as a whole than corporations have. You're pointing out the deprivations of third world countries today while trying to avoid the fact that public works allowed the elimination of many common diseases through proper waste disposal and clean water, helped curb illiteracy and adult education retention, created the ideas upon which modern society is built, and (incidentally) provided the foundation of judicial norms in a just society.

I'll grant you that there haven't been too many sterling examples of public works in totalitarian governments and third world countries to date, but I will provide a caveat that third world countries' public works might go a bit better if America didn't have a habit of assasinating socialist leaders elected democratically or placing trade embargoes on countries that experiment with the idea of socialized medicine. Supporting Sandinistas who rape and murder nuns and priests is a bit more important because, hey, at least they like to export and import with America.

lessthanpleased wrote:This disagreement does not stem from differing world views in this instance, as often happens with us. I really can't imagine anyone stating the above without either knowingly telling an untruth are being exceptionally misinformed.


:shock:


I was shocked, too. You're smarter than this.

lessthanpleased wrote:PS: As a further note, your snarky point about resenting the minimum wage because now you are required to make more money than you would have without it is far from convincing. I would think that if I can see that resenting having more money because of the minimum wage than you would have without it is a poor business decision if not outright anti-capitalistic, then there's a larger problem that needs to be addressed.


Image

It isn't that it's a darn shame that workers are entitled to be paid more. It's that because of that, many able and willing individuals are unable to get jobs. Why should it be against the law for me to work for $3 an hour if I am more than willing to and if the employer can't afford to pay me more? Give me a logical, moral reason why not?


Refer to Sun Hua, and then consider this: most people are too stupid for their own good. Sometimes, you have to help out those who can't help themselves. I think Jesus said something a lot like that last sentence, butI might be wrong about that.

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Unread postby football11f » Sun May 14, 2006 11:42 pm

A private enterprise doesn't have to be in the business for profit. My point was that because the the prosperity of the Hellenistic and Roman world, the society's that emerged were able to focus more on intellectual pursuits. The reason Athens became the epitimy of Greek culture was because Athens was the most prosperous city state. Sparta, a militiristic city with a command economy, was by far the least prosperous and contributed the least to modern culture. There weren't many mathematical models coming out of the Gauls, or great works of literature from the Dacians.

To most individuals, there's no sense in investing in education if it won't give you a tangible result. If the best I can hope for is to be a street sweeper, why would I bother looking into chemistry? As societies advance economically, however, more opportunities emerge and, with it, a greater incentive to educate oneself. The reason child labor fell apart in the developed world was because families could put food on their tables and children could reasonably expect the opportunity to work outside of the factory. Obviously many teenagers today still drop out of school, however they do so primarily because they see a tangible benefit: a job that will pay what they deem to pay a good wage. They may regret that decision later on in life as they get married and have kids, but the same principle applies.

The government simply cannot create that kind of wealth. As the New Deal clearly demonstrated, public works projects diverts money away from their most efficient use. If enough people want a library built, they will provide and organization with the funds to build a library. If enough people want a marsh to be drained, they will pay a company to do so. Art itself is only valuable so long as people want to look at it in their homes. What public works do is strip money from the minority to build whatever the majority wants. What a free market does is provide what everyone wants. You have yet to point out why the former is better than the latter. I particularly take offense to this statement

lessthanpleased wrote:Refer to Sun Hua, and then consider this: most people are too stupid for their own good.


How do you determine whose ideas should be followed by all. I personally find drinking alcohol to be idiodic and serve no beneficial purpose period. Nevertheless, it would be downright absurd for me to tell a free thinking individual that they have no right to drink a beer. So long as that person is not infringing on my personal rights, they have every right to destroy their bodies and I have no right to forcefully stop them.

Now, if I want to hand them an anti-alcohol pamphlet, that is fine. If I'm a family member or close friend and stage an intervention, that is fine. In no way is it right for the state to forcefully limit their freedom to make such a decision.

lessthanpleased wrote:Sometimes, you have to help out those who can't help themselves.


Indeed, which is why I have donated hundreds of dollers to charities that provides real aid to people I deem helpless.
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Unread postby lessthanpleased » Mon May 15, 2006 6:11 am

Ah, you have backed down from your ridiculous contention that corporations have done more good for society than public works ever had in favor of noting that you merely don't like public works because you perceive them to be inefficient while simultaneously noting that societies that advance to the point where people can be in the position to advance themselves is good.

The substance of what you said is clearly contained in my last post. Glad you've seen the light.

Note that none of what I said against you has disagreed with the principle that libertarian economics are potentially good. None of it states that strong economies are bad things: everything else you've said in the thread can, to my knowledge, be very well true.

However, a stupid assertion that states that the overall value of an innovation that's been around for roughly two and a half centuries exceeds the major advances of three thousand plus years that provided the foundation for corporations to even exist is not tenable by any standard of reasonability, much less empirical evidence. I don't know a single respectable libertarian who would permit such sloppy thinking given the intellectual rigour of the political philosophy.

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Unread postby Duncan » Mon May 15, 2006 12:58 pm

I’d agree with much of what neal has said, especially that I agree that economic growth is generally a good thing (as are relatively free markets – although I would reiterate that markets have never been free). My one quibble is this:

I'll grant you that there haven't been too many sterling examples of public works in totalitarian governments and third world countries to date...

The Aswan High Dam perhaps - one of many sterling examples of public works in third world countries intended to address a primary need of a modernising society – power (the same is arguably true of the Iranian nuclear programme). The Soviet Union had a pretty decent space programme and was big on public works. How about the vast public works currently going up in the gulf states - do works for public benefit created by despotic rulers meet Boran’s criteria of a “private” venture, or are they government works?

Onto some specific points made by football 11f that I don't think have been picked up yet. Sorry for the length of this post...

Actually, unlike socialism, the libertarian ideology is based around how real people really act.

Yet it seems to equate to greed, and uncaring selfishness. I get it. Not my kind of people.

The private ventures quoted as exemplars of private investment are each the products of tyrany, slavery and exploitation, usually in combination.

Yes, obviously Plato founded his academy to exploit the poor geniuses of Ancient Athens.

And
A private enterprise doesn't have to be in the business for profit. My point was that because the the prosperity of the Hellenistic and Roman world, the society's that emerged were able to focus more on intellectual pursuits. The reason Athens became the epitimy of Greek culture was because Athens was the most prosperous city state.


You seem to be deliberately misunderstanding the point (again), or you are sadly misinformed about ancient Greece. While lessthanpleased has covered most of this, I'd just like to ram it home - Athenian citizens were slave owners. Athens achieved pre-eminence through exploitation, tyranny (over other city-states) and Imperial expansion. Individuals’ disposable wealth came from being an oligarchy of “democratic” citizens – who WERE the government. They were free to focus on intellectual pursuits because they were rich oligarchs – unlike the peasants and slaves in their fields and factories, or the mercenaries fighting their wars.

Indeed, slavery can only exist when the government fails to protect its people's rights.

Slavery exists when governments chose to select whom to protect. Foreigners may not count, black people may not count, poor people may not count, criminals may not count - people have been enslaved for all of these reasons. Governments must respect and provide for the rights of every individual in society, not just the chosen few.

Minarchists like myself tend to support republics whose power is checked by constitutional provisions. The United States was like this from the "Era of Good Feelings" after the War of 1812 until the 1850's. During that period the government didn't interfere with the economy, destroyed the corrosive central bank and allowed citizens to live their own lives. The flaw of course was the legitimacy of slavery- a practice that clearly violates the libertarian doctrine.

You forgot to mention that this same US government also relied on protectionist tariffs to defend their nascent industry from the economic power-house of the era and the (then) champion of free trade – the British Empire. I call that interfering with the economy.

Yes, Ancient Sparta is quite a model for libertarians...

If anything, the failures of socialism should warn any sane individual that government regulation only leads to disaster.

I would refer you to your favourite model, Athens (see above for details). You would have us down a road that leads to corruption, exploitation and slavery. Any sane person would also note that lack of government regulation and intervention would also lead to disaster.

Charities that perform noble causes that the general populace agreements will get funded while those that don't will not. Since charities are private organizations, they are forced to ensure that their funds go to the right people in order to ensure their survival as an organization.

Who enforces this? That’ll be the democratically elected government doing regulating again, darn them. :wink:

Lets look at health spending in the UK (for instance). In 2001, a total of £75 billion was spent on health (7.6% GDP), of which private health expenditure amounted to £13.3 billion (1.4% GDP). To replace government spending on health (mostly provided by the NHS), charities and individuals would have to raise 6% more of GDP to replicate our creaking system.

Assuming we were to move to a system of health insurance as the sole provider of health services, we would use our tax savings (as 17% of government expenditure I’m assuming 5% of income) on health expenditure to pay for insurance. At the same time our health services would become selective (“we can’t help you, you don’t have the right insurance”), unless the charitable sector picked up the slack. Unprofitable healthcare research would go out of the window, unless the charitable sector picked up the slack.

Since UK charities mustered roughly £1.5 billion in the healthcare sector in 2001 (2% of total expenditure, 2.5% of government expenditure), it would have a very long way to go to catch up. Assuming a normal average of around 1% of income spent on charity, the tiny increase in our disposable incomes (of 5%) leaves a massive shortfall in funding for the charitable sector.

Wealth redistribution, economies of scale, and electoral responsibility means that democratically elected government is the best provider of services to people. Libertarian tax reductions and deregulation would lead to selective mass euthanasia.

So you're saying that an insurance company wouldn't build a levee around New Orleans to protect themselves from a catastrophe like Katrina? After all, the way an insurance company makes money is by their customers not requiring their services. Given that floods will result in a number of claims being filed in a short period of time, the insurance company has every incentive they need to pool funds with other businesses in the area to build a flood wall. Unfortunately, the government built their own, and that obviously failed miserably (What a surprise).

No insurance company I know of is prepared to outlay huge sums of money to prevent freak weather events. They would much rather sit on their regular income (and hike up the rates or refuse to ensure those at higher risk) and watch their wealth grow rather than take any kind of preventative action. If you can give me instances of insurance companies taking preventative action on the scale of any major public works project, or indeed any corporation being so altruistic, I’ll do what Ranbir’s quote (below) suggests.

Corporations like things they way they are – they like the infrastructure the government provides for them, and they would not want to pay other corporations for the services the government provides. They want to make money out of governments, and they want to make money protected by governments.

I only spend about $80 a year. I have $3,000 saved in the bank for college spending money with some nice scholarships lined up. I take pride in keeping myself healthy, therefore I can pay the few times I actually see the doctor out of my own pocket. If I didn't have to pay 40% of my paycheck in taxes, I'd probably have more.

Lucky you. What happens when your health insurance doesn’t cover it?

What else do you think that 40% of your paycheck goes on? What government services do you value and want to keep, and what proportion of your paycheck goes on these?

To repeat myself:
If you would like to pick and choose where your taxation goes, so would I. I would like mine to go to social welfare programmes, to hospitals, schools and the like, and not to the armed forces. If we balance your preferences against my preferences (and the preferences of large numbers of our fellow citizens) and look at the actual balance of government expenditure, I think you'll find it all comes out roughly where the balance of public opinion would like it to.

If a corporation is able to pay their workers less, that means they are able to lower their prices. This gives the consumer more money to spend on other things, creating more jobs there. That's how society advances economically and how the standard of living increases.

You have forgotten the greed factor – corporations don’t do things out of a desire to advance society economically, they do things for profit. If a corporation is able to pay their workers less, they rarely reduce their prices unless they are forced to. The additional profit goes into the pockets of (generally already rich) shareholders, who may buy another yacht, or may invest in another company. This is how corporations advance economically and how already rich shareholders’ standard of living increases (and GDP grows).

If enough people want a library built, they will provide and organization with the funds to build a library.

Just like a democracy – the organisation is the government and the funds come from taxation. If you don’t want it, don’t vote for it.

What public works do is strip money from the minority to build whatever the majority wants. What a free market does is provide what everyone wants.

I think you’ll find that just about everyone pays tax. So therefore what public works do is strip money from the vast majority to build what the majority wants. Seems sensible enough to me. What a free market does is increase the disparity of income between the richest and poorest in society, and responds to the needs of the richest first (not the most numerous, nor the most needy). Charity fails to fill the void.

How do you determine whose ideas should be followed by all.

It’s a thing called democracy – specifically democratic elections – you may have heard of it. :lol:

Any thoughts on the following points I made earlier, so far unanswered (or have these points been conceded)?
I'm suggesting that much government work underpins and enables voluntary support and charitable giving. This is social welfare in action and you would have it stop.

<SNIP>

6. Obligation stems from your own humanity, from your social conscience. Maybe this is a guilt trip, but what is wrong with that? Do you not accept that conscience has a part to play in society? Conscience surely tells us we should not break the law because it embodies our moral code, not because failure will mean someone will shoot us. Is it only the threat of violence that prevents people from breaking the law and is this all that keeps your society together? If conscience has no part in obligating a citizen to pay taxes and obey the law, then I despair for the future.
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Unread postby football11f » Mon May 15, 2006 8:26 pm

Neal wrote:Ah, you have backed down from your ridiculous contention that corporations have done more good for society than public works ever had in favor of noting that you merely don't like public works because you perceive them to be inefficient while simultaneously noting that societies that advance to the point where people can be in the position to advance themselves is good.

The substance of what you said is clearly contained in my last post. Glad you've seen the light.


Let me sum up my thoughts just so we're clear.

1.) As you pointed out, the Ancient World was far different than ours.

2.) The public works of the Ancient World were probably just as wasteful as they are today. When I say this, I mean that resources could have been better employed than they were.

3.) Over the past 300 years, corporations have clearly contributed more to society than any government. Coerporations have employed workers, provided products that society wants and given people the ability to buy whatever satisfies their wants and needs. Corporations built cities, gave us technology like the telegram and computer while, through all of this, raising our standard of living.

Neal wrote:However, a stupid assertion that states that the overall value of an innovation that's been around for roughly two and a half centuries exceeds the major advances of three thousand plus years that provided the foundation for corporations to even exist is not tenable by any standard of reasonability, much less empirical evidence.


It wasn't government though that came up with the design of the aqueduct, nor was it government that formulated the theories of mathematics and science. While you are correct in asserting that public works preserved much of Ancient knowledge, but what if governments didn't tax their subjects so heavilly in that era? What if governments in that time didn't crack down on ideas that threatened their authority?

Going a little off topic, consider this. If you think about it Neal, very little Ancient knowledge has survived. Many texts were only stored in a few select places, and many of those places were destroyed. When the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed, we undoubtedly lost many irreplacable books and manuscripts. A similar catastrophe occured when the library of Constantinople was torched during the fourth crusade. Many civilizations of the ancient era, including the Carthaginians and Minoans, are silent about their histories due to the fact that few of their writings survive.

Would so few copies have been made had there been more private enterprise allowed? Unfortunately, we will never know.

Sun Hua wrote:(as are relatively free markets – although I would reiterate that markets have never been free).


Yet history clearly shows that the freer ones tend to be most prosperous.

Sun Hua wrote:The Aswan High Dam perhaps - one of many sterling examples of public works in third world countries intended to address a primary need of a modernising society – power (the same is arguably true of the Iranian nuclear programme).


How about you take the hundreds of millions of pounds that went into the contruction of that dam and give it to the private sector. I'm sure many power plants, hospitals, sea walls and other structures society desired could be erected. 90,000 people were displaced when the construction of the dam flooded the southern Nubia. The silt that made the soil around the Nile fertile is unable to enrich the soil due to the dam. Fishing along the Nile has grounded to a halt, the coastline is eroding and the red brick i8ndustry is struggling to survive. In short, this public works project has undoubtedly harmed the lived of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. And since this is a public works project, they can't sue the builders for violating their property rights.

Sun Hua wrote:The Soviet Union had a pretty decent space programme and was big on public works.


I'm sure that millions of starving Russians were very appreciative of the billions being pumped into launching beeping balls around the Earth. I'm all for peaceful space exploration, but private competition can do the job much better and do less damage to society than government space programs can.

Sun Hua wrote:How about the vast public works currently going up in the gulf states - do works for public benefit created by despotic rulers meet Boran’s criteria of a “private” venture, or are they government works?


Anything paid for by tax dollers is not "private." While such projects typically benefit some people, they hurt many more.

Sun Hua wrote:Yet it seems to equate to greed, and uncaring selfishness. I get it. Not my kind of people.


You obviously haven't been around alot of people.

Unless you plan on changing the laws of nature, you'll have to accept that people are naturally self-interested. What capitalism does is turn that seemingly negative characteristic into a force that benefits society as a whole. After all, in order to improve ones situation, they need to provide a good or service that others want.

This doesn't always have to be a bad thing. When I donate money to charity, I am acting in self-interest. By donating $100 to the Red Cross, I personally feel good about myself- after all, I have supported an organization that provides a service that I personally find noble.

Sun Hua wrote:While lessthanpleased has covered most of this, I'd just like to ram it home - Athenian citizens were slave owners. Athens achieved pre-eminence through exploitation, tyranny (over other city-states) and Imperial expansion. Individuals’ disposable wealth came from being an oligarchy of “democratic” citizens – who WERE the government. They were free to focus on intellectual pursuits because they were rich oligarchs – unlike the peasants and slaves in their fields and factories, or the mercenaries fighting their wars.


Indeed, Athens was flawed in many ways. I use Athens, however, since they were the freest of the Greek city states. Every city had slavery, and every city sought to dominate its neighbors. However the differences between Sparta, which was a socialist country in every way imaginable, and Athens, the center of civilization in the Greek world, is obvious.

Sun Hua wrote:Slavery exists when governments chose to select whom to protect. Foreigners may not count, black people may not count, poor people may not count, criminals may not count - people have been enslaved for all of these reasons. Governments must respect and provide for the rights of every individual in society, not just the chosen few.


You're dead on right.

Sun Hua wrote:You forgot to mention that this same US government also relied on protectionist tariffs to defend their nascent industry from the economic power-house of the era and the (then) champion of free trade – the British Empire. I call that interfering with the economy.


You're thinking 1850 on. The south in particular flourished under the free trade policies of the government after the War of 1812. When congress passed a significant tariff in 1928, South Carolina responded by threatening to seceed. The message sent was clear and the tarrif was significantly reduced. Until the advent of the Republican Party in the 1850's, the American economy prospered in part due to free trade with Europe. When the Republicans imposed a very high tarrif in 1860, the south responded by secceeding from the union, resulting in the deaths of 600,000 Americans.

Sun Hua wrote:Who enforces this? That’ll be the democratically elected government doing regulating again, darn them.


No! [whacks Sun Hua over the head with a ruler]

When I donate money to a charity, I expect that money to go where the charity says it will go. If it doesn't, I don't donate to that charity. Thanks to today's mass media, it is impossible to get away with diverting a few bucks into someone's pocket. That's the check. If it becomes known that a charity is lying about where its donation go, that charity won't get any more money in donations and will die a horrible death.

Sun Hua wrote:Lets look at health spending in the UK (for instance). In 2001, a total of £75 billion was spent on health (7.6% GDP), of which private health expenditure amounted to £13.3 billion (1.4% GDP). To replace government spending on health (mostly provided by the NHS), charities and individuals would have to raise 6% more of GDP to replicate our creaking system.


Hold it right there. Given that there is virtually no competition in Great Britain's healthcare system, aren't prices well above market values right now? Think about it. If I now have to pay for my healthcare or health insurance out of my pocket, won't I be far more conscious of where I get my healthcare than I would in the NHS? That will quickly drive down health costs in general.

During the 1950's, a stay in an American hospital was maybe a day's pay. Since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960's, the price of healthcare has steadilly risen. This is undoubtedly a result of continued government interference that prevents the market from naturally fixing its prices.

Sun Hua wrote:No insurance company I know of is prepared to outlay huge sums of money to prevent freak weather events. They would much rather sit on their regular income (and hike up the rates or refuse to ensure those at higher risk) and watch their wealth grow rather than take any kind of preventative action.


Then nobody will live on that plot of land. Should I expect the government to provide me with a heat resistant wall if I decide to live on the side of a volcano?

Sun Hua wrote:If you can give me instances of insurance companies taking preventative action on the scale of any major public works project, or indeed any corporation being so altruistic, I’ll do what Ranbir’s quote (below) suggests.


Unfortunately the government does that, and the result is large numbers of people living in dangerous areas with the false hope that nothing can go wrong. As a result, you get catastrophes like Katrina.

Sun Hua wrote:Corporations like things they way they are – they like the infrastructure the government provides for them, and they would not want to pay other corporations for the services the government provides. They want to make money out of governments, and they want to make money protected by governments.


That's why government shouldn't have the power to grant subsidies or infringe on the right of citizens to make peaceful, voluntary exchanges.

Sun Hua wrote:Lucky you. What happens when your health insurance doesn’t cover it?


Frankly, I'm healthy enough to where paying $150 a month for health insurance isn't worth the rare occassions where I actually visit the doctor. I am saving money, however, for when the day comes that I do need to purchase insurance.

Sun Hua wrote:What else do you think that 40% of your paycheck goes on? What government services do you value and want to keep, and what proportion of your paycheck goes on these?


If government was cut to where it only provided defense and gave its citizens the money to aquire an education, tax rates would be less than 7%.

Sun Hua wrote:If you would like to pick and choose where your taxation goes, so would I. I would like mine to go to social welfare programmes, to hospitals, schools and the like, and not to the armed forces. If we balance your preferences against my preferences (and the preferences of large numbers of our fellow citizens) and look at the actual balance of government expenditure, I think you'll find it all comes out roughly where the balance of public opinion would like it to.


I got an even better idea. How about you can spend your money where you want and I can spend my money where I want. Both of us our happy that way!

Sun Hua wrote:You have forgotten the greed factor – corporations don’t do things out of a desire to advance society economically, they do things for profit. If a corporation is able to pay their workers less, they rarely reduce their prices unless they are forced to. The additional profit goes into the pockets of (generally already rich) shareholders, who may buy another yacht, or may invest in another company. This is how corporations advance economically and how already rich shareholders’ standard of living increases (and GDP grows).


Ah, but whenever a shareholder buys a yacht, the yacht companies gain a greater profit, allowing them to expand and hire more workers. If the shareholders invest in another company, that company is able to expand and hire more workers. Greed is, in short, a very good thing.

Sun Hua wrote:Just like a democracy – the organisation is the government and the funds come from taxation. If you don’t want it, don’t vote for it.


So if 50.1% of the populace votes to execute you, is that alright? After all, that's what the majority wants, isn't it? Go back in time and ask a black slave about what they think of majority rule.

Sun Hua wrote:I think you’ll find that just about everyone pays tax. So therefore what public works do is strip money from the vast majority to build what the majority wants.


In Germany's case, that was concentration camps. I'm sure my great grandfather, a Jewish World War I veteren, was thrilled about his tax dollers going towards those wonderful institutions... :roll:

Sun Hua wrote:Seems sensible enough to me. What a free market does is increase the disparity of income between the richest and poorest in society, and responds to the needs of the richest first (not the most numerous, nor the most needy). Charity fails to fill the void.


Really? So if I want to make alot of money I should produce a product that only the richest 1% of Americans will want to buy? :lol:
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Unread postby lessthanpleased » Mon May 15, 2006 10:28 pm

football11f wrote:Let me sum up my thoughts just so we're clear.

1.) As you pointed out, the Ancient World was far different than ours.

2.) The public works of the Ancient World were probably just as wasteful as they are today. When I say this, I mean that resources could have been better employed than they were.

3.) Over the past 300 years, corporations have clearly contributed more to society than any government. Coerporations have employed workers, provided products that society wants and given people the ability to buy whatever satisfies their wants and needs. Corporations built cities, gave us technology like the telegram and computer while, through all of this, raising our standard of living.


Your summation merely underscores your concession. Your concession is appreciated.

As a sidenote, your evasion in re: aqueducts, reservoirs, and sanitation is exceptionally weak. Noting that private citizens came up with the ideas is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand: regardless of who invented them, their implementation was a public work and did immeasurable good to society as a whole overall. Given that the modern world is simply unimaginable without their existence, and that the contemporary world is unimaginable without the existence of the modern world, that this point could not be clearer.

Appealing to the fact that ancient public works were probably as wasteful as you contend contemporary public works are is hardly an argument, incidentally. It's doubtful that they were all that wasteful given the survival of many of the greatest achievements to the present day, however; while welfare might not be around for my grandchildren, I have no doubt that the Great Wall will remain. So too the remnants of the Sphinx and the Pyramids.

It's also worth noting roads weren't even brought into this discussion: their failure to make an appearance is unforgivable on my part, because it makes the original contentious statement seem even more absurd now.

Final sidenote: labelling Sparta a "socialist state" demonstrates a surprising lack of knowledge of Sparta. It was a communal state to a certain degree, but "totalitarian militaristic oligarchy" is a much more preferable term by virtue of the fact that it is factually correct, while calling it merely communist is not. Communist states tend to be overly bureacratic and inefficient, and Sparta was anything but during the time period of its oligarchic heyday. Its problems with expansion are not radically dissimilar to those experienced by other expansionist cultures.

-neal
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Unread postby lessthanpleased » Mon May 15, 2006 10:50 pm

This is a sidenote.

Going a little off topic, consider this. If you think about it Neal, very little Ancient knowledge has survived. Many texts were only stored in a few select places, and many of those places were destroyed. When the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed, we undoubtedly lost many irreplacable books and manuscripts. A similar catastrophe occured when the library of Constantinople was torched during the fourth crusade. Many civilizations of the ancient era, including the Carthaginians and Minoans, are silent about their histories due to the fact that few of their writings survive.

Would so few copies have been made had there been more private enterprise allowed? Unfortunately, we will never know.


Your note about the survival of ancient knowledge has very little to do with the presence of private enterprise. The only people seemingly interested about the knowledge in question were the governments that stored public works and scholars. The fact that there are no surviving copies of the second half of Aristotle's Poetics has less to do with there not being enough copies of it made during the time period but, rather, with a lack of demand for it when it was around. Had there been more demand for them during the time period, more copies would have had to be made.

The fact of the matter is, the ancient works we have have generally gotten to us in several ways: manuscripts recovered from ancient, public libraries; manuscripts kept by aristocrats that didn't sell them off (surprisingly few, all things considered); dumb freaking luck (as when, most recently, several thousand lines of ancient texts by multiple Hellenistic philosophers, playwrights, and poets-not to mention Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus to boot- were found in the equivalent of an ancient Egyptian city's garbage dump).

Private enterprise is limited by supply and demand and, by and large, there wasn't a lot of demand for the Classics outside of Aristocratic families and academics. Could private enterprise have created more aristocrats? Possibly, but it is just as likely that the very rich would have been excluded from Aristocratic circles (think ancient Rome). If that doesn't happen, then it's even more likely that the private collections would have been sold off to the highest bidder when the families hit upon hard times, and the highest bidder on these texts would have been in most cases the institutions in place that archived books: public institutions. Or, alternatively, the Church would have picked through the collections to remove harmful books from the public (as is believed to have been done with Aristotle's Poetics since drama about the lower classes encourages base virtues at best or vice at worst).

If anything, greed is what destroyed many of these texts. Alexandria wouldn't have been torched if Egypt hadn't have been able to feed Rome with its grain and a veritable gold mine.

I like having property as much as the next guy, and like earning a paycheck even more, but its doubtful that free enterprise would have done a better job preserving knowledge than the libraries and the Church. Even today, public libraries and land-grant university libraries are the main repository of knowledge, while private institutions in general house rarer editions of books that demand has forced to be printed for mass consumption. In the event of a cataclysm, Aristotle's works will survive because he's catalogued in every public library in the world (I speak metaphorically here, although I suspect that if I'm wrong it's not by a large percentage). Sure, Cambridge, Harvard, and private collections might have editions of the work that date back to Nero, but all it takes is one fire nearby and that book is gone forever. The fact that public libraries are everywhere means that, through public works, the book is more likely to survive.

All of this is due to the fact that there is now a higher demand for literature (unlike in the ancient world). What seems apparent is that more knowledge would have survived (and, presumably, more worthwhile things would have been saved liked the oeuvre of Xenophanes rather than fragments) had the public works like libraries been much more expansive.

But again, this isn't about the lack of free enterprise. It's about the lack of demand for the works. Farmers and drovers weren't interested in metaphysics, by and large.

-neal
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Unread postby Duncan » Tue May 16, 2006 12:13 pm

football11f wrote:It wasn't government though that came up with the design of the aqueduct, nor was it government that formulated the theories of mathematics and science.

<SNIP>

Would so few copies have been made had there been more private enterprise allowed?

Your understanding of the ancient world is very deeply flawed - your understanding of archaeological survival is equally scanty. The concept of private enterprise, or public/private sectors in the ancient world is anachronistic. In the classical Greek and Roman periods, citizens who had the time to spend thinking, writing, designing or administering tended to be the most wealthy 5% - usually landed gentry, or property owning by other means. They were the government – an oligarchy of the rich. I can only suppose this is why Libertarians constantly hark back to this era. However, this ideal tends to ignore the role in society of the middle ranking, the manual workers, the poor, the enslaved, and women.

In the classical past, the connection between private and public sector was clear – those with money owned land, traded, and provided the governing class. In the modern world we all now have a vote, and thanks to the advances in communications technology we see our leaders on TV every night. Yet it seems to me that there is an amazing disconnection between the governing class and the rest.

Scientists and great thinkers are human beings. So are the administrators and politicians who administer government on our behalf. Great scientists may have invented the theories of science and mathematics that underpinned engineering. Great engineers may have designed aqueducts, roads, and bridges. Administrators (paid for, sponsored by or associated with governments) actually applied that knowledge and made sure the darn things got built.

The difference between government and corporate sectors is that governments plan things – building one bridge where a bridge is needed. When capacity is exceeded they may build another. Access to the bridge will be free because it is paid for by the government. In a free market for bridges, competing corporations by seeking to fulfil the need for a bridge may build 37 competing toll-bridges - only 3 of which are used enough to make a profit and the rest are demolished. Poor people cannot cross the bridge because they cannot afford the toll. How is this looking after the rights of everyone in society? Prosperity may rise, but the disparity between the richest and the poorest increases.

football11f wrote:Yet history clearly shows that the freer ones tend to be most prosperous.

You might like to look at the principles of cause and effect. The British Empire was intensely protectionist, but once it reached pre-eminence, it became freer. The United States was intensely protectionist, but is now prosperous and freer.

football11f wrote: I'm sure that millions of starving Russians were very appreciative of the billions being pumped into launching beeping balls around the Earth. I'm all for peaceful space exploration, but private competition can do the job much better and do less damage to society than government space programs can.

Your argument is hyperbolic so I’ll counterclaim – lets give more resources to Union Carbide – after all their contribution to Bhopal was of great benefit to local people!

As for your second point, governments got people into space 50 years ago - when exactly will private competition do the job at all, let alone much better? I‘ve yet to see a corporate space programme make it outside the atmosphere. No profit in it you see. Corporations may do so if they can turn a profit – possibly once governments have already built the expensive infrastructure for them (space stations and the like) and done the research for them using public funding (therefore freely available to all, rather than being commercially confidential). The scientific advances made by NASA as part of the space programme (using public funding) have benefited the whole of humanity a lot more than a marina full of rich shareholder’s yachts.

football11f wrote: …people are naturally self-interested. What capitalism does is turn that seemingly negative characteristic into a force that benefits society as a whole. After all, in order to improve ones situation, they need to provide a good or service that others want.

This is a good argument for capitalism. I don’t dispute this at all. What I would dispute is that free market capitalism and self-interest without conscience that it engenders is good for society as a whole. Minarchy means that the richest get richer and the disparity with the poorest gets larger – corporations can cheat, swindle and lie to make even bigger profits without regulation and at the expense of consumers. Venture capital for new developments is restricted because the hard and soft infrastructure (hard – roads and the like; soft – freely available information and people with the right skills in the right place) normally provided by government isn’t in place.

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:Slavery exists when governments chose to select whom to protect. Foreigners may not count, black people may not count, poor people may not count, criminals may not count - people have been enslaved for all of these reasons. Governments must respect and provide for the rights of every individual in society, not just the chosen few.


You're dead on right.

I refer milearned friend to the previous point. Governments have a responsibility to everyone, not just the yacht owners.

football11f wrote: When I donate money to a charity, I expect that money to go where the charity says it will go. If it doesn't, I don't donate to that charity. Thanks to today's mass media, it is impossible to get away with diverting a few bucks into someone's pocket. That's the check. If it becomes known that a charity is lying about where its donation go, that charity won't get any more money in donations and will die a horrible death.

You have already acknowledged the self-interest principle. If the charity regularly slips a quick back-hander to the owners of the mass-media (Uncle Rupert M and his chums), no-one will say anything – unless they suspect the government will hold them to account on behalf of the people. This is another instance where the unreality of your stance is based on your failure to associate the government elected by you with your own interests on any level.

football11f wrote: During the 1950's, a stay in an American hospital was maybe a day's pay. Since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960's, the price of healthcare has steadilly risen. This is undoubtedly a result of continued government interference that prevents the market from naturally fixing its prices.

If you want to stay in a 1950s American hospital, you can always go to Cuba. The quality of care will probably be much better than a US hospital (it’ll certainly be cheaper – its free!), but the medical procedures available are much more limited due to the lack of availability of expensive equipment and expensive drugs. It may be that the government is at fault for these advances. All that freely available research led to lots of new medical advances. The price of healthcare rises because the quality of it rises – market economics working correctly I’d say.

football11f wrote:Then nobody will live on that plot of land. Should I expect the government to provide me with a heat resistant wall if I decide to live on the side of a volcano?

:lol:

Quick then, evacuate everyone in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault, everyone who lives near the coast and less than 50ft above sea level (tsunamis), everyone in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (the hurricane region), and anyone who lives in the mid-West (tornado zone)! The Rockies are going to get pretty crowded! :lol:

Free(-ish) markets are great – people can live where they heck they want. Isn’t it better to have the government do what they can to help protect their citizens in these dangerous places, and to plan what to do when things go wrong? The alternative is to do nothing – not even try – to let citizens die horribly and unprotected, which is hardly protecting them and their rights. Even if they screw it up, at least governments attempt to help, which is much better than insurance companies who do diddly-squat to ensure their customers’ safety.

Corporations do not plan public works because they do not make a profit. Governments have to plan public works because they have a responsibility to their citizens. It seems to me that minarchists are arguing for selective mass-euthanasia by geographical location because you don’t like public spending on things that benefit the public. Either this or you are denying people the opportunity to live where they choose on their own property. Which way do you want it?

football11f wrote:That's why government shouldn't have the power to grant subsidies or infringe on the right of citizens to make peaceful, voluntary exchanges.

I’m not sure what you are getting at. Governments subsidise corporations to perform certain actions for them – these are called contracts. The corporation gets money to pay its staff, and the government gets a service for its citizens. Fair exchange. What is your problem? Last time I looked I have the right to make peaceful voluntary exchanges whenever the heck I like. Perhaps you would care to elucidate this rather obscure point.

football11f wrote:Frankly, I'm healthy enough to where paying $150 a month for health insurance isn't worth the rare occassions where I actually visit the doctor. I am saving money, however, for when the day comes that I do need to purchase insurance.

Then I hope you don’t unexpectedly contract MS at 22 like a school-friend of mine. Or a former girlfriend who developed a rare psychiatric disorder at 27. Both totally unexpected. Neither can work now, so they cannot pay health insurance, and their families could not support them indefinitely considering the huge long term costs of the drugs and special care they require, but they are both doing very well now thanks to the NHS. Government redistribution of wealth means they are able to live semi-normal lives.

football11f wrote:If government was cut to where it only provided defense and gave its citizens the money to aquire an education, tax rates would be less than 7%.

No law and order. No courts. No regulation of corporations to stop them ripping off customers and each other. No regulation to stop them polluting the planet (even more than they already do). No planning, no infrastructure, no freedom of information. Selective mass-euthanasia by action or inaction. Essentially no leadership – in other words anarchy.

football11f wrote:I got an even better idea. How about you can spend your money where you want and I can spend my money where I want. Both of us our happy that way!

How about another idea – you pay back the government all that you owe them for all the infrastructure and services you take for granted for your whole life. When you reach voting age would do. To make it easy for you they’ll spread repayments on your debt over your entire working life, and only take a reasonable proportion of your income each week, or each month. They could charge interest of course, but as they are being generous they seem not to!

football11f wrote:So if 50.1% of the populace votes to execute you, is that alright? After all, that's what the majority wants, isn't it? Go back in time and ask a black slave about what they think of majority rule.

Now you’re getting silly. If you want to abolish democracy, please say so. My understanding was that you felt democracies were better at providing free trade, although your underlying implied preference seems to remain an oligarchy of the rich – the people who actually owned all those slaves. If protected by a strong government, those slaves are made free, and a free democracy gives those former slaves rights as citizens and a vote. Where conscience, morality and democracy plays a leading part in society slavery has always been abolished. Oligarchy and greed caused slavery in the first place.

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:I think you’ll find that just about everyone pays tax. So therefore what public works do is strip money from the vast majority to build what the majority wants.

In Germany's case, that was concentration camps. I'm sure my great grandfather, a Jewish World War I veteren, was thrilled about his tax dollers going towards those wonderful institutions... :roll:

Yeah right - all public works are concentration camps. :roll: Your grandfather would be proud of you for that.

football11f wrote: Really? So if I want to make alot of money I should produce a product that only the richest 1% of Americans will want to buy? :lol:

Actually yes. If you look into it, the richest 1% like spending disproportionate amounts of money on prestige items. If you go into mass markets with low value products, you are competing with others, the return on each sale is tiny and the costs of production and distribution are much greater. Price each item very high so no-one else can afford them and exclusivity is assured. The product itself has to be good quality, but if you keep the costs of production down the return on each sale can be huge. Sell to the rich the things that they want (yachts for instance) and you can make a killing.
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Unread postby football11f » Tue May 16, 2006 8:51 pm

Sun Hua wrote:You might like to look at the principles of cause and effect. The British Empire was intensely protectionist, but once it reached pre-eminence, it became freer.


Given that Britain was the first manufacturing powerhouse, I highly doub tthey would have protected themselves from their non-existent competitors. :lol:

Sun Hua wrote: The United States was intensely protectionist, but is now prosperous and freer.


...

You're thinking 1850 on. The south in particular flourished under the free trade policies of the government after the War of 1812. When congress passed a significant tariff in 1928, South Carolina responded by threatening to seceed. The message sent was clear and the tarrif was significantly reduced. Until the advent of the Republican Party in the 1850's, the American economy prospered in part due to free trade with Europe. When the Republicans imposed a very high tarrif in 1860, the south responded by secceeding from the union, resulting in the deaths of 600,000 Americans and abrubtly ending the era of free trade.

Sun Hua wrote:Your argument is hyperbolic so I’ll counterclaim – lets give more resources to Union Carbide – after all their contribution to Bhopal was of great benefit to local people!


Or the government could not stip those resources from you and I and let us support whatever we want.

Sun Hua wrote:As for your second point, governments got people into space 50 years ago - when exactly will private competition do the job at all, let alone much better? I‘ve yet to see a corporate space programme make it outside the atmosphere. No profit in it you see.


The reason private companies haven't jumped on space exploration is because the federal government hasn't let them. Dr. Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket in 1926. In the 1930s, his funding, which Lindbergh helped secure, came principally from the private Guggenheim Foundation. But after World War II, it became a government effort entirely. The Pentagon brought Wernher von Braun and a team of scientists from Germany to the U.S. to develop more advanced designs of their V-2 rockets.

When the Soviets orbited Sputnik in October 1957, American space policy went in two directions. The Pentagon sought intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry nuclear warheads. And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established to put satellites into orbit and men into space. Unlike the history of aviation, development of military and civilian space efforts were government-run.

The landings on the Moon were great human and technological achievements. But the government's Manhattan Project approach to lunar missions (throw lots of money at the task) was not sustainable. In the early 1970s NASA, like any government bureaucracy, sought to maintain its staffs and budgets. Its partially reusable shuttle was meant to reduce the costs of putting payloads into orbit. Over the decades, the costs in fact went up. Furthermore, NASA systematically stifled competing private space enterprises, turning down many offers of those providers to launch rockets and stations. A raft of regulations and government-to-government treaties hampered private space efforts as well.

But a series of small, hard-won reforms after the 1986 Challenger disaster has allowed the private sector to struggle for its place in space. For example, Lockheed Martin's Atlas launch vehicles already carry more private commercial satellites than government cargoes.

But what is really needed in the 21st century is a strategy to back the government out of civilian space activities and allow imaginative private sector ideas to flourish. For example, the shuttle's 17-story-tall external fuel tanks currently are flown 98% of the distance into orbit before they are pushed back toward the ocean and break up as they reenter the atmosphere. But the external tanks could be put into orbit. With nearly 100 shuttle flights to date, 100 platforms -- with some 27 acres of total interior space, as much as the Pentagon -- could have been in orbit today, ready to be homesteaded by entrepreneurs for hotels or honeymoon suites.

Of special significance, private firms are beginning to develop a space tourism industry. For example, the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis is raising $ 10 million to award to the first entrepreneur who sends a craft capable of carrying three persons at least 100 km. (62 mi.) into space and returning it to Earth twice in a two-week period. The first contender to test a vehicle that could go for the gold is Burt Rutan. He designed the first plane to fly around the world nonstop without refueling, in 1986.

Sun Hua wrote:What I would dispute is that free market capitalism and self-interest without conscience that it engenders is good for society as a whole.


This should be good.

Sun Hua wrote:Minarchy means that the richest get richer and the disparity with the poorest gets larger – corporations can cheat, swindle and lie to make even bigger profits without regulation and at the expense of consumers.


:lol: . Unless you plan on bribing every media outlet, corporations can't "cheat, swindle and lie."

Sun Hua wrote:Venture capital for new developments is restricted because the hard and soft infrastructure (hard – roads and the like; soft – freely available information and people with the right skills in the right place) normally provided by government isn’t in place.


I personally have no problem with the government building roads (Even though the private sector can and has undoubtedly done this better, as seen by the continued growth of turnpikes). However I'm a little puzzled by the bold part. Please elaborate.

Sun Hua wrote:I refer milearned friend to the previous point. Governments have a responsibility to everyone, not just the yacht owners.


Once again I agree, which is why I oppose the government intervening on behalf of the yacht owners by subsidizing them.

Sun Hua wrote:You have already acknowledged the self-interest principle. If the charity regularly slips a quick back-hander to the owners of the mass-media (Uncle Rupert M and his chums), no-one will say anything – unless they suspect the government will hold them to account on behalf of the people. This is another instance where the unreality of your stance is based on your failure to associate the government elected by you with your own interests on any level.


:lol:

Wow, have we moved back 5,000 years or something. I was under the impression that we had a thing called the internet with lots of blogs and watchdog groups. I believe I also heard about some reporter being exposed by one of these thingermabobs for forging documents about President Bush's service in the Air National Guard. Hmmm, I must be living in la la land.

Sun Hua wrote:If you want to stay in a 1950s American hospital, you can always go to Cuba. The quality of care will probably be much better than a US hospital (it’ll certainly be cheaper – its free!), but the medical procedures available are much more limited due to the lack of availability of expensive equipment and expensive drugs.


Oh yes, the medical care is very cheap to the struggling Cuban family who must pay 50% of their income in taxes to support disasters like that. I'll tell ya Sun Hua, if everyone gave me 80% of their paycheck I could provide them with the best healthcare in the world, including a comfy bed, good food and the best medicine imagined. I'll even hire some clowns to go from room to room and cheer up the patient after his/her surgery. :roll:

Explain the wonders of government regulation to the hundreds of thousands of sick patients who died while waiting for the FDA to approve life-saving drugs. Explain the wonders of "greater coverage" to the hardworking middle class family that must pay a greater amount of money each month just to stay insured. Explain the logic of giving employers "incentives" to provide health insurance to the employes who saw their health coverage vanish upon losing their jobs.

Sun Hua wrote:It may be that the government is at fault for these advances. All that freely available research led to lots of new medical advances. The price of healthcare rises because the quality of it rises – market economics working correctly I’d say.


How can you say that? The government mandates that every doctor must go through years of medical training. Frankly, many medical jobs could be taught in less than a years time. This drives up the cost of labor, increasing business costs, limiting profits and lowering the ability for a firm to expand.

The government also heavilly regulates the drug market. Every new drug must be approved by the FDA. Beyond the massive amount of life lost due to delayed production of life saving medicine, the firm's costs required to test their drugs and hire lobbyists drives up the cost of manufacturing their drug once they have been approved. Since the process is so long and tedious, new drugs that perform the same task cannot enter the market, further driving up drug costs due to this shield from competition. Hospitals thus have even more costs due to these artificially high drug prices.

The federal government also provides tax incentives to companies to provide their workers with health insurance through tax breaks. In response, employers dedicate areas of their employee's paychecks towards paying for health costs, lowering their employees real pay while getting the company nice tax breaks. This means that the employee's coverage is not only vulnerable to a job loss, but is also not formed to fit his/her needs. This manipulates the insurance market, driving up insurance costs.

In short, everything is more expensive. When the government pays directly for medical care, as in the case with the NHS and Medicare, hospitals are able to milk the government of extra money, further driving up costs on the taxpayer. My grandpa recently needed to have part of his head drained of blood due to internal bleeding. Since Medicare was covering the cost, my grandpa was treated to a prolonged rehab, a large amount of food and other extravagent services. He was given an expensive walker even though he could walk fine and was prescribed drugs that did nothing (My pharmacist uncle confirmed this). It was frankly rediculous.

Sun Hua wrote:Quick then, evacuate everyone in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault, everyone who lives near the coast and less than 50ft above sea level (tsunamis), everyone in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (the hurricane region), and anyone who lives in the mid-West (tornado zone)! The Rockies are going to get pretty crowded!


People have every right to live wherever they want. However, they live there understanding the risks involved. Many of our largest cities are on the San Andreas Faultline. There are many advantages to living there, including warm weather and a beautiful coastline. These outweigh the risks- namely, earthquakes. Precautions are being taken by the private sector to protect against earthquakes: sturdier homes, open areas, etc. People are more than capable of protecting themselves from their surroundings especially when their livelyhoods are on the line. All the government can do is provide faulty structures like levees that crack under a level 3 hurricane.

Sun Hua wrote:The alternative is to do nothing – not even try – to let citizens die horribly and unprotected, which is hardly protecting them and their rights. Even if they screw it up, at least governments attempt to help, which is much better than insurance companies who do diddly-squat to ensure their customers’ safety.


Yes, because the goal of insurance companies is to go out of business. You'd make a fine CEO.

Sun Hua wrote:It seems to me that minarchists are arguing for selective mass-euthanasia by geographical location because you don’t like public spending on things that benefit the public. Either this or you are denying people the opportunity to live where they choose on their own property. Which way do you want it?


Way to twist around what I said. People, that's you and me, have every right to live wherever they want, even on the side of a volcano. However, the risks involved must be taken into account by the individual and governments, forcefully funded by you and me, should not be expected to build a wall around your house in the event that volcano decides to erupt one day.

Sun Hua wrote:I’m not sure what you are getting at. Governments subsidise corporations to perform certain actions for them – these are called contracts.


No, they're called gifts.

Sun Hua wrote:The corporation gets money to pay its staff, and the government gets a service for its citizens. Fair exchange.


The problem is that the government is using my money, which is forcefully took away from me, to pay a special interest to perform a service that I don't want my money to go towards.

Sun Hua wrote:What is your problem? Last time I looked I have the right to make peaceful voluntary exchanges whenever the heck I like. Perhaps you would care to elucidate this rather obscure point.


Are you able to pay a man to perform a service for you for $2 an hour even if that man consents? Are you allowed to sell a life-saving drug that has not been approved by the 9-panel "gods of health" at the FDA? Are you allowed to launch a privately made rocket within the United States into space?

Sun Hua wrote:Then I hope you don’t unexpectedly contract MS at 22 like a school-friend of mine. Or a former girlfriend who developed a rare psychiatric disorder at 27. Both totally unexpected. Neither can work now, so they cannot pay health insurance, and their families could not support them indefinitely considering the huge long term costs of the drugs and special care they require, but they are both doing very well now thanks to the NHS. Government redistribution of wealth means they are able to live semi-normal lives.


It's not like there wouldn't be charities to help out those kinds of patients. It's not like the price of medicine and hospital care will go down if the government stops toying with the market.

A few years ago, a healthy 40 year old coach in my brother's hockey association learned that he would die if he did not have a heart transplant. The operation would have cost him about $100,000- a sum he could not afford. So what did us greedy, selfish scumbags of the community do? We feverishly raised money through fundraising dinners and raffels and paid for his operation. This has evolved into "Hockey Has Heart" and, each year, we help more and more hockey families through similar situations. It's been a smashing success and has saved many lives thus far.

Sun Hua wrote:No law and order. No courts.


"Defense" means protecting individual and property rights. That means a military, police force, firefighters, border patrol agents, a strong court system, etc. Will the lack of the FDA cause Kansas to seceed from the union? :lol:

Sun Hua wrote:No regulation of corporations to stop them ripping off customers and each other.


It's not like the market has ways of preventing that. Standard Oil was totally getting away with its shady business practices in the early 1900's... :roll:

Sun Hua wrote:No regulation to stop them polluting the planet (even more than they already do).


And our regulations have worked wonders so far. I have an idea. Since pollution is a violation of my property rights, how about I get the right to sue the jerks that do so? If factory x dumps its crap into a stream that runs through my property and kills my beloved ecosystem on my property, I should be able to sue that factory for compensation. With enough lawsuites draining their coffers, it becomes quite economical to scale back on pollution. This plan was implemented by many states before the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and tended to result in lower levels of pollution that the ones that attempted to regulate pollution via the government (Which was, and still is, tubject to bribes by factory owners to "look the other way"). Unfortunately, that bit of good sense was abolished with the advent of the EPA. Our environment has suffered since.

Sun Hua wrote:No planning, no infrastructure.


The land belongs to the government. They can sell it off to whoever they want, allowing them to "organize" their growing cities. The private sector already provides the latter.

Sun Hua wrote:, no freedom of information


Large governments tend to restrict this, as we are seeing now in the United States. If governments are in their minarchist form, they are actively protecting this right- not infringing on it.

Sun Hua wrote:Selective mass-euthanasia by action or inaction. Essentially no leadership – in other words anarchy.


Interesting. So the United States was in anarchy from 1789-1850? Wow, an interesting take on history...

Sun Hua wrote:How about another idea – you pay back the government all that you owe them for all the infrastructure and services you take for granted for your whole life. When you reach voting age would do. To make it easy for you they’ll spread repayments on your debt over your entire working life, and only take a reasonable proportion of your income each week, or each month. They could charge interest of course, but as they are being generous they seem not to!


I'll be sure to thank them for providing me with a steller education. :roll:

There wasn't alot of voluntary pay for these services, and I certainly could have done better had a market provided them.

Sun Hua wrote:Now you’re getting silly. If you want to abolish democracy, please say so.


Democracy is fine so long as there are restrictions on what the government can do. Democratic Republics are the most effective form of government in terms of protecting individual liberties. However, if there are not constitutional limitations on what the majority can vote for self-enrichment, then democracies turn into dictatorships. It's a slow, inevitable transformation if no action is taken.

Sun Hua wrote:My understanding was that you felt democracies were better at providing free trade, although your underlying implied preference seems to remain an oligarchy of the rich – the people who actually owned all those slaves.


A democratic republic with the following constitutional guarantees is ideal

1. Recognition and respect for the individual’s civil liberties. These include the traditional freedoms of speech, the press, religion, and voluntary association.

2. Recognition and respect for the individual’s economic liberties--the right to real and personal property, and the right to its free use and disposal by the owner, as long as its use and disposal is consistent with the recognition and respect of the same equal rights of all other individuals in the society.

3. All means of production are privately owned. And the use of these means of production is under the control of private owners, who may be individuals or corporate entities.

4. Consumer demands determine how the means of production will be used, with the competitive forces of supply and demand determining the prices for consumer goods and the various factors of production, including labor.

5. The freedom of the market is not confined to domestic transactions, but includes the freedom of international trade and investment.

6. If a central bank is in charge of the monetary system, it is strictly limited to a series of narrow rules for management of the money supply to prevent both inflation and its political use for the purposes of special interest groups.

7. Government is primarily limited in its activities to the enforcement and protection of life, liberty, and property. The law clearly defines and strictly enforces private property rights.

Oligarchy's are no different than statist dictatorships- which I detest.

Sun Hua wrote:If protected by a strong government, those slaves are made free, and a free democracy gives those former slaves rights as citizens and a vote. Where conscience, morality and democracy plays a leading part in society slavery has always been abolished. Oligarchy and greed caused slavery in the first place.


Agreed. I define a strong government, of course, as one that protects individual and property rights. You may define it differently.

Sun Hua wrote:Yeah right - all public works are concentration camps. Your grandfather would be proud of you for that.


I'm merely giving an example of how democracies become cruel dictatorships if the majority's will is unchecked by the basic constitutional guarantees (Enforced by a vigorous court system) that I laid out above.

Sun Hua wrote:Actually yes. If you look into it, the richest 1% like spending disproportionate amounts of money on prestige items. If you go into mass markets with low value products, you are competing with others, the return on each sale is tiny and the costs of production and distribution are much greater. Price each item very high so no-one else can afford them and exclusivity is assured. The product itself has to be good quality, but if you keep the costs of production down the return on each sale can be huge. Sell to the rich the things that they want (yachts for instance) and you can make a killing.


Yes, computers, televisions, cars, airplanes, video games, movies and almost every product available only targets the rich. Where have you been?
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football11f
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Unread postby Duncan » Wed May 17, 2006 3:01 pm

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:You might like to look at the principles of cause and effect. The British Empire was intensely protectionist, but once it reached pre-eminence, it became freer.


Given that Britain was the first manufacturing powerhouse, I highly doub tthey would have protected themselves from their non-existent competitors. :lol:

Our competitors were the Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish Empires. Don't you know any history? Try reading Niall Ferguson (sp?) on the subject of the British Empire. In our early years in the 17th and early 18th centuries, Britain was intensely protectionist. I'll concede the dates of US protectionism (I can't be bothered arguing), but not the fact.

Nice to know private companies are willing to go where governments lead in the space industry - once the research has been done, risks taken, and infrastructure is in place. Thanks for proving my point for me.

football11f wrote:This should be good.

If you understood my points, you'd realise that it is.

football11f wrote: :lol: . Unless you plan on bribing every media outlet, corporations can't "cheat, swindle and lie."

They do already and it is rarely reported in the media. Have you heard about libel laws? The defendant is presumed guilty unless they can prove otherwise, and court cases take forever to resolve. Media outlets cannot say anything unless they have absolute proof. Investigative journalism of corporate fraud is an expensive and time consuming business - I don't expect Fox put much effort into it. Hard evidence of corporate cheating, swindling and lies regularly turn up years later when it is no longer news, except in very rare instances like the McDonalds case.

football11f wrote:However I'm a little puzzled by the bold part. Please elaborate.

Its called research and planning.

football11f wrote:I oppose the government intervening on behalf of the yacht owners by subsidizing them.

Now I'm confused. You don't want the government to subsidize yacht owners, yet you want the government to stop taxing them?

football11f wrote:I must be living in la la land.

I think you must.

football11f wrote:Explain the wonders of government regulation to the hundreds of thousands of sick patients who died while waiting for the FDA to approve life-saving drugs.

Try "not poisoning your citizens with rip-off drugs produced by exploitative pharmaceutical companies who make false claims of efficacy and safety."

football11f wrote:Explain the wonders of "greater coverage" to the hardworking middle class family that must pay a greater amount of money each month just to stay insured.

"Healthcare costs money. Pay more in tax, or pay more in insurance, or take your chances of becoming destitute when you get sick."

football11f wrote:Explain the logic of giving employers "incentives" to provide health insurance to the employes who saw their health coverage vanish upon losing their jobs.

"Health insurance is a rubbish system that equates to playing russian roulette with your future. Pay more in tax and get the government to sort out healthcare for everyone for life. It works in Britain and across Europe."

football11f wrote:The government mandates that every doctor must go through years of medical training. Frankly, many medical jobs could be taught in less than a years time. This drives up the cost of labor, increasing business costs, limiting profits and lowering the ability for a firm to expand.

I'd rather have a qualified doctor looking after my health than some joe with a year's training thank you very much.

football11f wrote:The government also heavilly regulates the drug market.

Thank goodness. I'd rather they did that than poison people with rip-off drugs produced by exploitative pharmaceutical companies who make false claims of efficacy and safety. You clearly prefer mass-euthanasia.

football11f wrote:...artificially high drug prices.

What profit margin does that include? Commercial confidentiality maintained by pharmaceutical companies prevents other companies from producing the same drugs in a free market.

football11f wrote:My grandpa recently needed to have part of his head drained of blood due to internal bleeding. Since Medicare was covering the cost, my grandpa was treated to a prolonged rehab, a large amount of food and other extravagent services. He was given an expensive walker even though he could walk fine and was prescribed drugs that did nothing (My pharmacist uncle confirmed this). It was frankly rediculous.

Doesn't sound much like the NHS :lol: If you don't like the way he was treated, you could always have used insurance or paid for his treatment in a private hospital, or couldn't your family afford it? Incidentally, did your uncle see your grandpa's case notes?

football11f wrote:...the goal of insurance companies is to go out of business. .

I think you'll find they prefer to make an enormous profit at the expense of their customers. While sitting on their hands. You haven't given me ANY instances of insurance companies paying for public works. I'm still waiting to find out if I need to buy a hat, but I think my money is safe in my wallet.

football11f wrote:The problem is that the government is using my money, which is forcefully took away from me, to pay a special interest to perform a service that I don't want my money to go towards.

I thought we'd covered this. I pay my taxes because I have a social conscience. If you feel forced to do so, it is because you cannot see that you have a social responsibility to your fellow citizens. Why not?

football11f wrote:Are you able to pay a man to perform a service for you for $2 an hour even if that man consents? Are you allowed to sell a life-saving drug that has not been approved by the 9-panel "gods of health" at the FDA? Are you allowed to launch a privately made rocket within the United States into space?

All of these examples involve a contract that obligates both parties to ensure the safety of the citizens of the United States. Safety of its citizens is a government concern (unless you believe in mass euthanasia through government deregulation - so far you appear to do so).

football11f wrote: It's not like there wouldn't be charities to help out those kinds of patients. It's not like the price of medicine and hospital care will go down if the government stops toying with the market.

You're fond of economics – try doing some maths. I’ve shown that people (on average) give 1% of their income to charity in total (all charities, not just healthcare). I’ve already given you figures on public, charitable, and private spending on healthcare in the UK. Government spending on front-line healthcare in the UK amounts to more than 7% of all expenditure. How do you meet the shortfall – 20 times as many fundraising dinners?

football11f wrote:It's not like the market has ways of preventing that.

The market positively encourages cutthroat business, turning a fast buck, moving on and up. Plenty of businesses have shut down because of dodgy dealing, and (surprise surprise) their owners have turned out to have more money afterwards to invest in another dodgy business somewhere else. This is called entrepreneurship. And it is why business needs to be regulated.

football11f wrote:Since pollution is a violation of my property rights, how about I get the right to sue the jerks that do so?

Amazingly enough the full costs of the Bhopal pollution have still not been paid by Union Carbide – 7835 DAYS WITHOUT JUSTICE. Corporations have an amazing ability to obfuscate, evade and delay through the courts – after all they have the money to pay the best lawyers, and you as an individual don’t.

football11f wrote:The land belongs to the government.

Not where I come from. Individuals have property rights, don’t you remember?

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:...no freedom of information...

Large governments tend to restrict this...

Did I mention commercial confidentiality? Government research and information provision is normally published at public expense. NASA seems to have given away a few excellent ideas in the past, although I expect they are obliged to sell their ideas to raise money these days because people like you want to cut back on their funding.

football11f wrote:Oligarchy's are no different than statist dictatorships- which I detest.

Yet you hark back to Athens (an oligarchy), early 19th century America (an oligarchy) and recommend that taxation is drastically reduced which benefits the yacht-owners (an oligarchy of the rich), and governments are emasculated to the benefit of the market (an oligarchy of corporations).

football11f wrote:I define a strong government, of course, as one that protects individual and property rights. You may define it differently.

Nope. We may differ on how we’d like the government to protect those individual and property rights. A simplistic formulation like this is open to a wide range of interpretations, including a Stalinist one.

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:Yeah right - all public works are concentration camps. Your grandfather would be proud of you for that.

I'm merely giving an example of how democracies become cruel dictatorships if the majority's will is unchecked by the basic constitutional guarantees (Enforced by a vigorous court system) that I laid out above.

If so you chose a very bad example. You really need to study some more history. Nazi concentration camps were NOT the direct product of a democracy, let alone a majority opinion.

Sun Hua wrote:Yes, computers, televisions, cars, airplanes, video games, movies and almost every product available only targets the rich. Where have you been?

Bog standard products sell for bog standard prices. Exclusive products sell for premium prices. In addition to the research you need to do into history to really understand the instances you use, you also need to do some more reading on how marketing and advertising works to illuminate your understanding of market economics.

Signing off for a while now. I'll look in to see how you're getting on next week.
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