RE: `capitalist' character values

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 02:32:29 MDT

Olga writes

>> Ahem, I'm not getting the idea across. Choosing with
>> 'dollar-votes' is libertarian-speak for free choice
>> made through purchasing power.
> But before people go shopping with their wads of money grasped firmly in
> their fists, somebody, somewhere decides CEOs' salaries. Somebody,
> somewhere decides that sanitation workers (who perform an important function
> for our society) receive a lot less money than physicians (who also perform
> an important function for our society).

The CEOs' salaries are determined by the board of directors,
composed of people acting in their own self-interest. The
salaries of sanitation workers should be decided by the
market, in the sense that the jobs should be offered to
whatever people competant to take them who'll work for the
least. (That's how my job is; if I'd asked for too much
money, my job would instead have gone to someone almost as
competant, but who'd work for less.) Now labor unions do
complicate things: they get a lock on jobs, and won't let
other potential workers come in who'd do the job for less.
Physician salaries are also market driven, except that the
doctors have gotten together and used the power of government
(force, remember) to prevent anyone from practicing medicine
that they don't approve of.

Now you may not be from the U.S., but I am very disappointed
that you didn't know how all these salaries were determined,
or should be determined if we had freedom. I'm sorry, but I
think that you had better go read Milton Friedman's "Free to
Choose", or David Friedman's "The Machinery of Freedom". I
shouldn't have had to write the previous two paragraphs.

> it's more like, somebody-somewhere decides, and then the people
> march to their tune (through purchasing power). Whether "somebody-
> somewhere" is a committee, a board of directors, or a corporation...
> what's to prevent "self-service above all" from occurring? (I sent
> along another post regarding this, about the tech layoffs in the
> Seattle area, which play into this subject.)

I'm sorry Olga, but this isn't how it works.

>> Yes, I'm saying that just because Spielberg
>> makes fifty million dollars a year, and some
>> teacher makes twenty thousand, there is no
>> need for some committee to decide how much
>> Mr. Spielberg "is really entitled to" and
>> to transfer (by force, not persuasion) some
>> portion of his income to teachers.
> But don't the teachers transfer some of their income to
> Spielberg, as well? (I'm talking about taxes, not movie
> tickets.)

How am I to respond to that. Would you please explain how
Mr. Spielberg gets his hands on the tax receipts. I won't
continue this conversation unless you explain notions like
this beforehand.

> Doesn't Spielberg get more than enough to live on, in any
> case (whether he pays taxes or not)?

Yes, but so what? Or are you inching towards saying that
the government should have a legal right to his earnings,
in order to give money away to poor people?

> I'm not exactly rich, but I can tell you I've been living for free since
> 1981, since the first time I owned a house. What a surprise it was the
> first time I sold that house - not only did I get all the money back from
> interest, principal, and all the money I ever put into construction costs,
> realtor's fees and the rest - but I actually made more money.

Yes! You are quite right. The present situation is a rip-off of the
people who aren't quite well-off enough to be able to afford buying
a home. I certainly pay a lot less, like you, for a roof over my head
than the poor renters in my city. But this evil situation was created
by the existence of governments using force, and you want to fix the
situation by using more force. That wasn't the answer in the country
you came from, and it's not the answer here.

Now where geography is a limiting factor, e.g., San Francisco, the
prices of land and houses will fly through the roof in any case,
free market or no. Here is what I'm talking about: why can't
poor people afford cheap housing in all the other cities? Why can't
relatively primitive houses (along the lines of the 19th century)
be built by the market place in order to make money by selling them
or renting them to poor people? Because governments implement
ridiculously elaborate housing codes---not just for certain districts
in an affluent city---but everywhere they can. If you think that
it's a nastly plot by rich people to get richer, well..., I'll agree
that while there is no conscious conspiracy, every time that we have
excess government power, the rich will get richer, or else the
government will institute socialism and everyone will be poor.
Repeal all the laws that hurt the poor: minimum wage, uniform building
codes over a whole state, and so on.

> I don't know what part of the country you are living,
> but racist behavior has not faded in Seattle, Washington.
> And we are considered to be "tolerant," as cities go ...

Tell me more about it. How does racism occur in Seattle?

> Even as de jure segregation went down in flames (literally, at
> times), I see de facto segregation everywhere (schools, work,
> social functions, you name it). I've been seeing it, I've
> talked to people who have been affected by it (recently), and
> it comes in all forms, from subtle to out-there outright.
> It's cruel and it's unfair.

It happens that not all ethic groups, races, and religious groups
are equal in all ways. There really are positive correlations
between each of crime, race, stupidity, ethnicity, and religious
group. That's a fact, and there isn't anything that's going to
be done about it short term. The evil of racism is not allowing
someone's individuality---which really dwarfs whatever groups
their in---to dwarf their group membership. I know of people of
every race who are more competant than I am in any area you care
to choose, and it is important that people be willing to give
such persons a chance. I believe that they do, but am eager to
hear where you think that it's not happening in Seattle. As
for de facto segregation, as long as it's people freely choosing,
then the problem lies elsewhere, and won't be fixed by forced
busing or forced housing or any other kind of force.


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