RE: Property [was Re: The Education Function]

Webb_S (
Tue, 15 Dec 1998 18:25:00 -0500 wrote:

>Steven writes:
>>Market freedom is the most effective means for achieving libertarian
>>It is not necessarily the best means for achieving other goals, such as
>>communalism or equality. These alternative goals are equally valid,
>>perhaps unpalatable or even abhorrent to a libertarian.
>This is nonsense. Any goal is "valid" so long as it doesn't necessitate
>aggression. The market makes no value distinctions, it merely allocates
>resources as people mutually see fit.

The notion that all men (people) are created equal is arguably not well supported by market mechanisms. Yet some view this sort of equality as a desirable goal. Personally I think it's naive.

>>A laissez-faire approach to economics does not necessarily translate well
>>other societies with different views of freedom, personal responsibility,
>>society, etc. In Russia and many SE Asian countries, for example, global
>>capitalism looks rather like a dismal failure at the moment.
>To call it "capitalism" is to twist the meaning of the word beyond

Sounds suspiciously like Christians who argue that the Church shouldn't be judged for the crusades, inquisition, witch burnings, etc. because that's not "real" Christianity. In any event, "global capitalism" is what economists and business leaders call it.

>>I live in DC and work for the government.
>That explains a lot...

Really it explains nothing. That you think so is telling.

>>Trust me, most government activities have nothing to do with force.
>Why should I trust you? You're part of the gang that takes a big percentage
>of my earnings against my will and spends it on things I don't approve of.

Ah yes, we're one big happy gang here. Have you ever even *been* to DC?

>If most gov't activities have nothing to do with force, why can't I simply
>decline to hand over my property to the IRS without risking jail or worse?

Because that's the law. Maybe it's a bad law, but there it is. If you can provide a convincing argument that the IRS is unnecessary I wouldn't mind eliminating the IRS one bit.

All of the government employees I know work for agencies involved in commerce, transportation safety and labor issues. Force has nothing to do with it.

>True, in most cases it doesn't get to the point of force actually being
>applied, but obviously the threat of force is there, and is just as wrong.
>Or do you have no objection to a mugger, as long as he doesn't actually
>bash your head after taking your wallet?

For the most part I find the bundle of goods and services provided by the government to be acceptable. If a mugger offered something comparable in compensation for the mugging I probably wouldn't object as strongly.

>>Oh sure, at some abstract level the State could suddenly decide to ditch
>>constitutional rights and blow us away for non-conformance, but in the
>>majority of transactions this possibility is so remote as to be
>Bullshit, it happens every day. It's not at all abstract.

Every day, hardly.

>>Now, if you want to talk rampant coercion in modern America, my exhibit A
>>would be the control businesses have over their employees. To the average
>>American, the government is some remote entity with which one interacts on
>>April 15 and election day. One's boss, on the other hand, can very
>>and easily make one's life miserable if one fails to carry out his or her
>Obviously you don't know what coercion means. I _choose_ to work for my
>employer, and that entails accepting the conditions offered. If I didn't
>like the terms of employment I wouldn't be working there.
>There's no such contractual agreement with "government". It's a matter of
>"an offer you can't refuse". _That's_ coercion.

I've promoted a contract theory of labor before. It seems like a good model. As has been pointed out to me, however, many people for one reason or another don't have, or at least feel they don't have, as many options as you feel you do. If their lifelong employer decides to give them the boot, it's the end of their world.

As I often say, in the end people *always* have a choice. You don't have to do anything you don't want to, even if it's the guvmint doing the asking. There are consequences, of course.

>>Without getting into Samael's understanding of economics, even a beginning
>>economist recognizes the important distinction between positive and
>>normative economics. It's one thing, for example, to state that some
>>outcome is Pareto optimal, but another thing entirely to say we should
>>restructure our political and social systems to achieve said outcome.
>You're throwing out another red herring. There's no such thing as
>"normative" economics. Economics describes, it never prescribes. Pareto
>optimality means that everyone's objectives are being met as efficiently as
>possible; it doesn't depend on how "worthy" any of those objectives are.
>What you don't like about it, of course, is that it doesn't force people to
>go along willy nilly with *your* objectives.

There most certainly is such a thing as normative economics. You can find this terminology in any good intro economics text. Objective descriptions of economic behavior are quite a different thing than proposals for economic policy. Economists engage in both activities.

*My* objective is to live in a largely libertarian society under a minimalist government. Don't go jumping to conclusions about my motives.

>>While I don't necessarily agree with everything either Samael or Joe is
>>saying, we must recognize that there are two sides to this story.
>Yes, on one side we want to keep the value we create, on the other side you
>want to take it from us. Gosh, how does one choose sides on such a complex
>and confusing issue?

"I" want to take it from "you"? I don't want to take anything from you. Why do you think this?

>>Sure, governments do bad things, but so do businesses.
>Business can't get away with bad things by dint of firepower or "sovereign
>immunity", however.

True. Mostly they have to rely on PR people to cover their transgressions.

>>Personally, I'm much more
>>concerned about what my next (private sector) employer might do to me, or
>>try to make me do, than I am about the guvmint.
>Don't make me throw up.

Why should my feelings upset you so as to cause gastric distress?