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Re: [atheists-27] Regulation etc.

From: Chad
Sent on: Monday, March 18, 2013 1:08 PM
My understanding of libertarian(ism) before this long running fascinating thread was lacking to be sure. I'm thankful to Bruce, Zach, Don, Joseph, all the others for the opportunity to learn.
However, in my opinion, capitalism, as demonstrated in the US, does not work for enough people. I think the evidence is clear on that point (ie, unemployment rates, welfare recipients, the 1% vs the 99%, a dying middle class, etc.. Don referenced Sweden and Norway as examples of heavily taxed and regulated countries with consistently stable economies and, as polls show, high degrees of individual happiness. What does the libertarian think of Sweden and Norway as examples of success? Also, is this not contrary to their ideal of less government and regulation? Are there current libertarian examples of success within the modern world one can look to? Thank you.
Chad Albus

Joseph B <[address removed]> wrote:

See, this is precisely the type of "logical theorizing without data" that I am inclined to dislike. Here's your quote:
 
"You assume people care about people they don't personally know and love. This is not only a false assumption..."
 
I assume you're saying this at a societal, and not an individual level. But Zach, understand there's an entire field, Evolutionary Ethics, whose sole purpose is to study the reasons why humans are naturally inclined to be altruistic and empathetic. We see altruistic behavior in animals, cooperative behavior in packs of wolves, and monkeys. We know there are brain regions, mirror neurons, whose sole purpose is to cognitively build a picture of what others are thinking and feeling. The lack of empathy in fact is so abnormal in everyday life we built a special word (and studies) around folks that can't do this: sociopaths. What bothers me is this certainty that this is a false assumption again, without using data on biology, on human life, on societies, on how people naturally react in earthquakes, etc.  It's I theoretically build a conceptual understanding of how society works, but completely ignore how data actually supports/doesn't support my model. Instead what I'll do is intuitively understand how the world works, THEN find the evidence to support my position.  

Let's take another one of your examples:  
...in order to force people to pay for anything, you must first establish a monopoly of coercion (policed government) and then a person or persons determining how to use this force. 

..The absence of a government does not produce prosperity. Never has and never will.

I'm not sure if you realize this, but these two statements are inherently contradictory.  Take this wikipedia definition of government or pretty much any definition:  Does it include coercive words in there like "enforce"? If so, would it not then include a set of person or persons determining how to "enforce"?

I think the Philippines example is absolutely germane because if I'm understanding your position correctly, government is too coercive, taxation is theft, and the solution to communal problems is privatization. This to me is the fundamental ethos of the libertarian position.  

The case I gave you is a non coercive government with virtually no taxation. 
In which case, you'd expect people to "naturally"  offer privatized police protection. privatized fire protection. privatized water provision, and sewage and garbage collection. All the while the government supervises and "suggests" that these things are built.  

Basic economics 101: Free-rider problem. up front fixed costs... externalities. All of these concepts are completely lost. It's like you expect a single rice farmer to somehow have the idea, the capital or the expertise to build a pipe system for a village, and it's absence in our village is evidence of "a lack of entrepreneurial culture". 

Please explain this.  

Joe


On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 10:16 AM, Zach Moore <[address removed]> wrote:

Matthew, you are making an assumption about human nature that you shouldn't. You assume people care about people they don't personally know and love. This is not only a false assumption, it is a dangerous one for in order to force people to pay for anything, you must first establish a monopoly of coercion (policed government) and then a person or persons determining how to use this force. This is like stripping a person of their immune system and then expecting nature to play nice. Despite your good intentions, what you get is a military-industrial complex and mass corruption within the system. Just stop it.

On Mar 18,[masked]:53 AM, "Mathew Goldstein" <[address removed]> wrote:
People are coerced into paying for clean running water because the benefits from this coercion far exceeds the combined minor costs in liberty and income.  When people don't have clean water people's health deteriorates and that results in a greater economic cost and a greater loss of liberty than the taxes extract.  The ill health of our neighbors threatens our health because illness travels and spreads and this undermines the overall economy because ill people are economically less productive.

The evidence just doesn't support your notion that less taxes and smaller government equals greater prosperity for all.  Just look around, the countries with the most prosperity have governments that are effective in collecting taxes, the countries with governments that collect the least taxes are invariably more negatively impacted by poverty, illiteracy, violence, illness, short life spans, and corruption.  Rank countries by taxes collected and by indices of these outcomes and see what it looks like.  If proponents of minimal possible government can cite empirical evidence that the countries with lowest taxes do better then, and only then, will anyone have any proper justification for considering this 'lower taxes is always better' refrain.

On Mar 18, 2013, at 2:08 AM, Zach Moore <[address removed]> wrote:

Joe, it is true. The absence of a government does not produce prosperity. Never has and never will. I would argue that you need both a society free from coercion and a society eager to be entrepreneurial inorder to prosper. At the heart, this means a society that understands the laws of this world (science) and the laws of economics (supply and demand). You also need a virtuous society that is governed by market values (frugality, long term planning, customer service, innovation, hard work, etc). So you're story about the Philippines is a bit moot for me.

In a libertarian society, you can protect yourself or leave yourself vulnerable. You just can't force your neighbor to do so. In a libertarian society, you can have running water or dirty sewers. You just can't force your neighbor to pay for you water or live in the sewers. So I will reject out of hand any talk about government social benefits. A government needs a capitalistic society the way a virus needs a host.

On Mar 18,[masked]:49 AM, "Joseph B" <[address removed]> wrote:
I wish there was a lot less ad hominem attacks, and a lot more verifiable facts on these emails... "troglodytes... and everyone's a lemming but me (or everyone's a lemming but us) type thinking is kinda cultish don't you think? 
 
Do you honestly believe no one on these boards have read Friedrich Hayek? or any of the Chicago school economists?  Do you completely believe that all liberals are in 100% disagreement with everything libertarians have to say? 
 
If you need an ego stroke here are some right wing ideas I actually believe in: 

Reagan's tax reform. - damn good idea. probably one of the better presidents to actually do it and it did close a lot of loopholes.  
 
Fiscal federalism and block granting: actually useful if properly implemented. 
 
 The thing is Bruce, you're not dealing with one giant set of idiotic troglodygtes who have never read Friedrich Hayek, or the austrian school of economics. Try to approach the interaction not in terms of who's superior or inferior... but actually understanding where people are coming from. Where I'm coming from is the idiotic theorizing without the data or the rigorous controlled studies to back it up. and pretending it's truth.
 
As an example, I could sit here and theorize about how immigrants logically have to be taking jobs away from decent hardworking americans, or I can actually look at the data and see if that's exactly what's happening.  If I'm even smarter about it, I can understand that serial correlation is bound to happen in any type of study examining mass migration and try to design my experiments to counteract that effect. 
 
Now reading some half assed idiot with poetic delivery of the "Affront to freedom of invasive immigrants!" that goes on for 17 pages doesn't make me an expert at immigration at all. And people who haven't read my particular poet/philosopher/pundit/whatever, and calling them troglodytes for not reading it doesn't answer the issue at hand. 
 
What answers that question is data. and what answers it are papers with words such as "control group".. "difference in difference estimation", "coefficient", "omitted variable bias", and most most most most importantly, "LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY" (THIS IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST INDICATOR TO ME THAT A STUDY IS ACTUALLY SERIOUS AND WORTH READING). That's the type of literature I prefer because it's grounded in evidence. Not papers, blogs or "this refers to the 18th century philosopher Francis blah blah who once said, an affront to liberty is all, and all is blah blah freedom to man blah blah whose tyranny blah blah bullshit"  -This crap doesn't answer the question at hand...at best it's a form of abductive reasoning, and at worst it convinces people of its "self-evident truth" because it's "so damn logical". 
 
Zach. I'm coming at it from having been born, and having extensive experience living in the Philippines for a good majority of my life. In the village I grew up in, government almost literally DID NOT EXIST. there's no personal income tax, because people ignored it and they absolutely sucked at collecting (The best we do is a VAT tax).  There is NO SEWAGE SYSTEM, NOR TRASH COLLECTION back then. Our house got water from our own water tank.  And  cops? nearly non existent.
 
Here's the result:  Every house needed a dog for protection, and 15 ft tall concrete walls with broken glass bottles at the top to ward off thieves.  You tried not to leave your house when the sun went down and it got dark, (ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE A GIRL) because you risked getting raped or robbed or shot or stabbed. (thanks to completely ineffective/almost nonexistent policing)
 
I remember as a kid, a house once burned down to the absolute ground. And since there was no firefighters, it took the entire village to put down that fire. I remember the line of people that formed that passed buckets of water back and forth to try to keep that house from burning, but ultimately failed. (even though we all felt a sense of pride standing there to help)... 
 
Is this adequate data to falsify your claim? No. But just from personal experience, the type of non coercive, little to no government society you describe exists already in the world... and from my experience, it kinda sucks. Yet no one forced us to pay personal income taxes... no one cared whether we were chinese or filipino, or voted for X or Y candidate... no police force cared or oppressed us under a brutal governmental regime.. no one cared. and that's kind of the point. 
 
I completely fail to comprehend how people like you feel so "oppressed" in the first world with actual functioning systems and government services. I'm having the hardest time trying to understand it from your vantage point of where this "oppression" is coming from in light of where I come from. And the way I read it, it all really is just the narrative "Government is ALWAYS THE WORSE SOLUTION and can never do anything good"
 
Please explain and help me understand.
 
Joe
 
P.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for collecting unemployment data...In my understanding, the methodology they use have been consistent since 1994:  http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1995/10/art3full.pdf  If you can find any recent methodology changes please post, and I'll be glad to stand corrected.
 
if however, you think liberals are idiots because they don't know that unemployment numbers published in "the mainstream media" don't count people who are unemployed but have given up looking for a job, but you know this information and this is "evidence of dishonesty from the obama administration", please refer to U-1 through U-7 ranges of unemployment indicators in the above link, and also provide evidence that the BLS reported different ranges to the public under George W. Bush.
 
 

 
On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 11:51 PM, bruce <[address removed]> wrote:
I suspect your facts are wrong.  The Obama administration and liberals have shown themselves consistently dishonest and conceptually unequipped to accurately assess unemployment.  Hey think unemployment means people on unemployment, when self employed people like business owners, mortgage brokers, independent contractors etc cannot apply for or collect unemployment even if they ave no business.

The number of people in the US not participating in the labor force is at an all time low, and that number may be higher than the number of people working in Canada,

One of the problems with most so called "liberals" is that their deep and deliberately engineered ignorance, combined with paper credentials in often worthless disciplines from state funded propaganda mills (churches, essentially) keeps them from any self awareness and any learning.

I see you all say the same long refuted myths and inanities every year.  I think of you as troglodytes worshipping some volcano god, your cognitive contact with reality limited by your delusions, fed to you by the priests of the state you worship.


On Sunday, March 17, 2013, Zach Moore wrote:

In a libertarian society, you can be conservative or you can be progressive. You just can't force your neighbor to be conservative or progressive. In a libertarian society, you can be religious and you can be secular. You just can't force your fellow man to be religious or secular. In a libertarian society, you can be generous or stingy. You just can't force your acquaintances to be generous or stingy. In a libertarian society, you can be whatever you want to be. You just can't force everyone to be just like you.  Don't you want to live in a libertarian society?

On Mar 17,[masked]:34 PM, "Mathew Goldstein" <[address removed]> wrote:
Some highlights from CPAC:

  • Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky wrongly claimed that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, during her confirmation hearings, agreed that "the government through the commerce clause could regulate that you eat three vegetables a day."
  • Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was wrong by more than 3 million people when he claimed that there are more unemployed Americans than employed Canadians. He also said President Obama "stood watch over the greatest job loss in modern American history," but the fact is more jobs were lost in Bush’s last year than under Obama.
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was wrong when he said Brazil is "totally energy independent," and he also vastly overstated the U.S. natural gas supply. 
  • Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour claimed that Obama "tried to impose the biggest tax increase in American history on small-business owners by letting the Bush tax cuts expire." But Obama proposed letting cuts expire only for upper-income individuals, most of whom are not small-business owners..

With Republicans, this is par for course.  Ask them if they do not believe in evolution and they will all raise their hands.  Ask them the age of the universe, and they will punt.  Here is Ron Paul:

Ron Paul: In a Q&A with Reddit users in 2009, Paul, asked about evolution said, "You know it is a theory, nobody has concrete proof of any of this. But quite frankly I think it’s sort of irrelevant, that because we don’t know the exact details and we don’t have geologic support for evolutionary forms"

And here is Rand Paul:

QUESTION: Was there a point in life where you became a Christian [...] and also, how old is the world?

Rand Paul: I forgot to say I was only taking easy questions (crowd laughs)….  I’m gonna have to pass on the age of the earth. I think I’m just gonna have to pass on that one.


On Mar 17, 2013, at 10:32 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

Be careful Bruce.  I am fully aware of Hayek and company.  And yes this is exactly the trail of evidence that will need to be examined here.  Unfortunately I am working on my Secular Voter's Forum and I will not have the time to follow up
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