Why I’m Skeptical of Market Regulation

By: jmb275
January 18, 2012

Libertarians and free-market proponents get a really bad rap in the economic sector these days. The argument is almost always the same – the financial disaster of this decade is primarily attributable to the greed, dishonesty, and poor ethics of bank owners, CEOs, and “Wall Street” (whatever that means), and the way to prevent this in the future is to increase regulation and oversight on those institutions and people. Free-market proponents are almost seen as cheerleaders for the greed, and dishonesty. Rejection of the solution of increased regulation is seen by its proponents as approval for unethical behavior.

Let’s be clear here. No one disputes that the problems are attributable primarily to greed and dishonesty. No one disputes that almighty profits often lead to unethical behavior. No one disputes that we should have laws enforcing basic honesty and important ethical principles. Those are the hallmarks of a sound society. So with all the niceness I can muster – stop treating free-market proponents like advocates for greed and dishonesty. Seriously, just stop it! Look deeper into the issues before you blast that viewpoint away. And if you hold the opposing viewpoint, that’s fine, but use cogent arguments to defend your view.
:: end soapbox ::

So what is the viewpoint of libertarians (well, at least this libertarian)? The problem with proponents of increased regulation as a means to curb bad behavior is that they rarely consider and/or are unable to predict the associated costs of the regulation.

I’d like to give an example of what I mean. Let’s look at the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. This piece of legislation (proposed by a Dem and GOP together) was a response to the accounting scandals that rocked the early part of this millenium. The problem was that the auditors were in bed with the accountants, and corporate heads weren’t held accountable for unethical practices. With Enron the whole Ponzi scheme came crashing down. The SOX act hoped to curb all this by increasing transparency, corporate responsibility, auditor independence, and remove conflicts of interest.

And indeed it did! According to a study in 2010, SOX enhanced transparency relative to comparable firms not subject to SOX. It also led to lower borrowing costs due to improved internal control. And those companies also had greater increases in share prices than non-SOX regulated companies. So declare victory and move on! Right? Right? Well, hold on a sec…

But what about costs? Nothing is for free! The SOX act dramatically increased compliance costs – some estimate around $1.4 trillion since SOX went into law.[1] Additionally, companies whose revenues were significantly smaller than large corporations had disproportionately larger compliance burdens. So much so, that in 2007, 70% of respondents said public companies with revenues under $251 million should be exempt from SOX.

Oh wait, there’s more! While SOX has helped companies from poorly regulated countries who list on the NYSE, the costs are incurred by countries from developed countries with tighter regulations. SOX is also attributed with helping displace business from NY to London where regulations are a bit lighter. This has put us at a competitive disadvantage on the world stage in an era where we are already not creating enough jobs. In a combined study from Stanford and Harvard Business Schools in 2008, the authors conclude that following the act’s passage smaller international companies were more likely to list in stock exchanges in the U.K. rather than U.S. stock exchanges.[2]

A recent Wall St. Journal editorial said [3]:

One reason the U.S. economy isn’t creating enough jobs is that it’s not creating enough employers… For the third year in a row the world’s leading exchange for new stock offerings was located not in New York, but in Hong Kong… Given that the U.S. is still home to the world’s largest economy, there’s no reason it shouldn’t have the most vibrant equity markets-unless regulation is holding back the creation of new public companies. On that score it’s getting harder for backers of the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting law to explain away each disappointing year since its 2002 enactment as some kind of temporary or unrelated setback.

And Ron Paul, on April 14, 2005 in a speech before the House said:

These regulations are damaging American capital markets by providing an incentive for small US firms and foreign firms to deregister from US stock exchanges. According to a study by a researcher at the Wharton Business School, the number of American companies deregistering from public stock exchanges nearly tripled during the year after Sarbanes-Oxley became law, while the New York Stock Exchange had only 10 new foreign listings in all of 2004. The reluctance of small businesses and foreign firms to register on American stock exchanges is easily understood when one considers the costs Sarbanes-Oxley imposes on businesses. According to a survey by Korn/Ferry International, Sarbanes-Oxley cost Fortune 500 companies an average of $5.1 million in compliance expenses in 2004, while a study by the law firm of Foley and Lardner found the Act increased costs associated with being a publicly held company by 130 percent.

Ron Paul was one of three members of the House who voted against SOX in 2002.

And whatever else can be said in favor of SOX, it still didn’t prevent a near total collapse of the financial sector in 2008! Greed and dishonesty finds a way despite whatever regulation is put in place.[4]

Look, we all want the folks running the show to be honest. And executives haven’t won any brownie points in the eyes of the public by buying up private jets and frivolously wasting money on extravagant luxuries. But in our system, the banks are in bed with the lawmakers (who also enjoy those same jets and luxuries incidentally). Financial regulation, as good as it sounds on paper, is often not enforced as well as it ought to be.[5] And too often unintended consequences are either not analyzed well enough or are legitimately unknowable (though I claim Ron Paul does a pretty good job of seeing many of them).[6]

I am absolutely in favor of good legislation that increases transparency, reduces dishonesty, helps us keep corruption out of our gov’t and corporate sector, and minimizes unintended consequences and inefficient allocation of resources. The problem is, most legislation and regulation doesn’t! And in the meantime we end up creating problems down the road requiring further regulation to fix!

Free market proponents don’t believe that the free market will solve all our problems. They are not under the illusion that there won’t be poor people, or that greed and corruption will cease to exist. But those things always exist, and in the meantime the primary victims of most regulation are the poor themselves (you don’t think those corporations use their profits to pay for increased compliance costs do you?), the folks we think we’re helping (hint: the poor are always the victims)!

[1] Economic Consequences of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (warning: PDF)

[2] Piotroski, Joseph D. and Srinivasan, Suraj, Regulation and Bonding: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Flow of International Listings(January 2008).

[3] America as Number Two, Wall St. Journal, January 4, 2012

[4] In anticipation of the naysayers, I do recognize that the effects of SOX are hotly debated, and that I’m mostly representing one side of a very complex issue. But even admitting that to me suggests that this legislation was hastily crafted and voted into law without really examining the unintended consequences. And no matter how you slice it, we now reap the benefits/consequences which are clearly mixed at best!

[5] Mike Mayo.

[6] A few Ron Paul predictions (try to ignore the cheesiness of this video). Seriously, Ron Paul predicts so many things accurately I just can’t understand why people think he’s crazy. Rather, I think he’s almost the only sane one in Washington at all! Him and Kucinich.

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138 Responses to Why I’m Skeptical of Market Regulation

  1. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    jmb,

    I know you did NOT just write a post on audit regulations :3

    I guess this is the deal. Near the beginning of the post, you mention:

    No one disputes that almighty profits often lead to unethical behavior. No one disputes that we should have laws enforcing basic honesty and important ethical principles. Those are the hallmarks of a sound society. So with all the niceness I can muster – stop treating free-market proponents like advocates for greed and dishonesty.

    But this is a red herring. Libertarians or suppoters of deregulation don’t have to be advocates for greed and dishonesty in order for greed and dishonesty to be primary effects from the implementation of their policies. (Now, actually, considering the Wall Street a la 1980s era, which really wasn’t far from the Gordon Gekko Wall Street mantra of “greed is good,” you really have to also caveat that some people ARE advocates for greed and dishonesty. In business ethics classes TODAY, we still have people questioning whether or not it’s ok to lie or withhold information from various parties because one’s fiduciary duty is to maximizing shareholder value, not toward being honest.)

    My issue would be this: everyone wants to say that they are against greed and dishonesty, but what we need to do is set up an economic system that disincentivizes greed and dishonesty. You yourself say, “No one disputes that we should have laws enforcing basic honesty and important ethical principles,” but I would go further and say that if we can’t all be on board that we need to have laws enforcing basic honesty as an important economic principle, then we’re not going to get honesty enforced.

    And when you agree that basic honesty should be enforced by law, you’re on the side of some kind of regulation — perhaps the current regulation is not it, but some kind of regulation is.

    Here’s the deal: laws aren’t neutral. Economic systems aren’t neutral. Accounting systems aren’t neutral. But people often assume that they are.

    If we have a capital market structure that has widely dispersed equity ownership, then this has a foundation on different incentives and goals than a debt-based market structure with narrowly dispsed or closely held ownership.

    This comes up in your post, actually. In the first couple of paragraphs, you’re concerned about honesty and important ethical principles. But later on in the article, you are focused on the cost of compliance and the competitive advantage of US firms as opposed to international firms.

    I’m not saying that those goals are necessarily opposed, BUT I am saying that you should look at whether they are in certain cases.

    My point would be that if we want a market in which companies are honest, then there’s a cost related to that externality (since normally, positive externalities like “honesty” are going to be underproduced since they are economically valued lower than their social value) that must be implemented in the system. This is the increased cost of compliance. Yes, companies are going to complain that it costs more to comply with more stringent audit regulations, but essentially, if we want to have an honest society, then this cost is a necessary one.

    I’m probably going to piss a bunch of people off with this next analogy, but it’s like privileged people. When we implement measures to improve the equitable distribution of something (like, say, education), then the people who were privileged under the previously inequitable systems get all up in arms that they are being discriminated against. But here’s the real deal: when you have unfairly been given more pie than your equitable share, for you to lose the unequitable portion is not a valid harm against you. You never had a legitimate interest in that unequitable portion, especially if you think that something like equity is worth going for.

    This is basically the issue with compliance costs in accounting. If we want a market that doesn’t have huge financial scandals every so many years, then the price that we pay for that is in compliance costs.

    In the accounting world, US GAAP is something of a gem. It’s not perfect, but its stringency is admirable, even if SOX implementation is costly. In contrast, UK GAAP and IFRS (the international financial reporting standards) are far more lax — proponents for them SAY that having “principles based” guidelines allows auditors to be more flexible with how tough they want to be on audit clients.

    But that’s not really what we see…when rules are more flexible, the client (who pays the auditors…but that conundrum with the audit model is the subject of a DIFFERENT POST) has more impact in shopping around for auditors who will agree with their positions. Additionally, principles-based policies don’t mesh well with auditors’ incentives — auditors want to minimize legal liabilities. If you have bright-line rules (e.g., this transaction must be treate this way if 80% of this is that, if 3/5 of that is that, blah blah blah), then you have people skirting as close to the bright lines as possible, BUT auditors can rest assured with requiring clients to follow those bright lines BECAUSE they are legally defensible down the line. (That’s another example of how laws, accounting rules, etc., are not neutral. We have to take into consideration the goals and incentives of the various parties and ask ourselves whether the rules we have work well with those.)

    Getting to a more big picture perspective…if what you care about first and foremoest is America’s capital markets growing…and you think that that goal is worth cutting compliance costs to American firms, then you’re going to have to be OK with the negative side effects of that (which, yes, include greed and dishonesty.)

    Remember what I said earlier:

    when you agree that basic honesty should be enforced by law, you’re on the side of some kind of regulation — perhaps the current regulation is not it, but some kind of regulation is.

    I certainly don’t think we are all that good at writing regulation. I think that the US, in most instances, follows the wrong kind of model when it comes to regulation — we write regulation AFTER THE FACT. As a result, SOX handles the particular problems of Enron, Worldcom, etc., but it’s reactive. This is also America’s problem with environmental regulations, for example: they are always after some city/environmental preserve/mountain/whatever has been turned into a total wasteland.

    But the answer to this isn’t total deregulation, because deregulation (and the proponents thereof) haven’t shown that they can enforce “honesty and basic economic principles” without laws (I think that at least theoretically, this can be possible…if we have a relatively homogenous society that shares social values. In that case, the social values we share can make up and take over for a lack of legally enforced values. But as with MOST metrics [health care, welfare, etc., etc., etc.,] that seem to work quite differently with homogenous populations, we can’t really rely upon these things for America because America is diverse and doesn’t share that many cultural values!)

    So, I think it’s ok to be skeptical of market regulation in the sense that 1) we haven’t developed a good way to approach it and 2) the same underlying environmental issues that make deregulation a bad idea ALSO hurt our efforts at regulation. (Consider: is it any surprise that Congress botches up regulations across many industries and issues when they are being financed/lobbied/informed mostly by businesses in the industries being regulated? And as you’ve mentioned, 3) even when we do find a way to implement the social costs of certain values into economic policy or law, we don’t have a good way of placing those costs on businesses rathe than consumers. Caveat: when you talk about about American capital market competitiveness being important, though, you don’t really help here. You encourage companies to push costs further down the line…after all, they are just trying to maximize profits, and by your own reckoning, that’s what they should be doing above all else.

    BUT unless you are just skeptical of humanity’s penchant for solving tough problems in general, that doesn’t mean you should be skeptical of regulation across the board. Instead, that means you should support research that can synthesize the best of what we know about human behavior, psychology, sociology, economics, etc., into “smarter” and more humane regulation.

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  2. Stephen Marsh on January 18, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Libertarians or suppoters of deregulation don’t have to be advocates for greed and dishonesty in order for greed and dishonesty to be primary effects from the implementation of their policies.

    And there I was, expecting some Adam Smith quotes ;) (You know, like “whenever business men meet, they plot against the common good.”).

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  3. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    So good, Stephen. SO GOOD.

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  4. John Roberts on January 18, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    I am in favor of less regulation, and more criminal prosecution.

    One problem I have with regulation is, that if you abide by the specific regulations, you cannot be prosecuted for, oh, say, criminal theft or fraud.

    And generally, the industry writes the regulations.

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  5. Bob on January 18, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    @ jmb275:
    Yes__red lights do slow traffic. But you seem to want intersections with only green lights(?)
    For 30 years, I worked for a major insurance company. I would say 80% of my time was spent being sure I was following the Government laws and rules. I can’t imagine the conduct of the company if it didn’t have those heavy regulations.

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  6. Kaysville Al on January 18, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    I have worked at several different oil companies – one built before 1950. Common practice before environmental regulations came along was to dump off spec oil into a big unlined pond open to the atmosphere. There was no waste water treatment. All refinery wastes were just dumped in big heaps onsite. We didn’t stop these practices out of the goodness of our hearts. It was government regulations that forced it.

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  7. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    John Roberts,

    That’s a very good point as well.

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  8. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    The natural consequence of increasing regulations is to make those we would subject to our wills our masters. The natural consequence of increasing regulations is to make all the small companies go out of business or subject them to the rules larger companies can easily live by making monopolies out of those we would not have monopolies.

    Why did the big companies get bailed out? Because they own the regulators. What is the federal reserve but a fascist pseudo-private entity?

    Is environmental regulation really needed? Was it not created but to make the business owners and CEOs immune to prosecution? To put smaller businesses out of business? Did we not have laws that were universal that would tell these businesses that they were not allowed to pollute? Indeed are not these laws called property rights? Is there not a tragedy of the commons? What is the core problem, having public lands that bar businesses from owning the land?

    Who was at fault for the slaughter of the bison on the great plains? Was it not governments role to protect the property of others? Was it not the native Americans property? Was this not the failure but government itself?

    Regulations are not what brings prosperity and freedom and liberty. Regulations is what causes a ruling elite. Regulations is what causes chaotic anarchy to come forth as prosecutors are given free reign to prosecute the innocent and achieve convictions regardless of the innocence of the people they prosecute.

    Do not expect that when you use aggression against another that they won’t fight back.

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  9. Bob on January 18, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    I disagree with #4. What would be better for those on that cruise ship better regulations on the Captain__or more prison time for him?
    What would have been better for the people who had their money in Enron__more regulations before it fell apart__or more jail for those who caused the loss?

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  10. Cowboy on January 18, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Jon:

    It’s good to see that your still at it!

    Everyone:

    I like the post, but I also find myself agreeing with Andrew S. (#01). I don’t think any sane person can look at our current body of economic regulation and declare, “it is good”, and then call it a day. Still, there are certain things that are worth the cost. “Honesty”, which in my mind is just full disclosure and transparency, is a must if you want competitive markets to truly reach coveted points of “true” equilibrium. There needs to be certain rules and limits, if the game is going to be played fairly and effectively.

    I do struggle however with notions of regulating “greed”. What is “greed”, first of all. Economists take as a given, an observation of human nature called the “economizing problem”. Essentially that of reconciling how to satisfy each persons unlimited wants, in a world of finite resources. In short, we like to consume. Furthermore, quality of life can often be determined by what we consume, and how much. The reality is, in our economy, money is the ticket to selectively consuming most things people want, and it stands to reason that if we each want to consume a lot, then we need a lot of money. Is this greed, or is it to some extent (<100%) human nature? Addition to satisfying wants, we also have a relative expectation of "needs", based loosley on some kind of societal standards. In other words, none of us can be completely selfless. So what is the appropriate amount of consumption? Of course we can say, "well I don't know, but an executive salary of $40,000,000 per year is too much". And perhaps that is true in some regard, but what becomes the standard for saying so other than simple equitable distribution of goods without consideration for equitable production? In fact, if global wealth is the standard, perhaps $40,000 is more than a person "needs". In short, I find "greed" to be ambiguous of a notion to find any value in trying to regulate it.

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  11. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Good point, Cowboy.

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  12. Bob on January 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    #10: Cowboy,
    “I find “greed” to be ambiguous of a notion to find any value in trying to regulate it”
    We have a line for poverty__ why not for “greed”? Maybe something like the # of calories needed by an average man for a day?
    I could give you about 50 movies to see that take a good shot at it.

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  13. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Now, should we start regulating covetousness too?

    Wealth disparity is another byproduct of regulations.

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  14. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Re Andrew

    I know you did NOT just write a post on audit regulations :3

    Hmmm, you know it! ::snap::

    Let me start my response by thanking you, Andrew, for taking the time to provide a nuanced response. I know you have been studying these issues for a long time, so I really do care a lot about what you have to say.

    My issue would be this: everyone wants to say that they are against greed and dishonesty, but what we need to do is set up an economic system that disincentivizes greed and dishonesty…but I would go further and say that if we can’t all be on board that we need to have laws enforcing basic honesty as an important economic principle, then we’re not going to get honesty enforced.

    I totally agree. Honesty is critical to success (we teach our kids that cheaters never prosper which is really a statement of faith in whatever system you adopt to punish cheaters). Basic honesty must be enforced…somehow.

    And when you agree that basic honesty should be enforced by law, you’re on the side of some kind of regulation — perhaps the current regulation is not it, but some kind of regulation is.

    Absolutely. I’ve never meant to imply I was against all regulation. I don’t think anyone but full-on anarchists are…which I am not.

    My point would be that if we want a market in which companies are honest, then there’s a cost related to that externality … if we want to have an honest society, then this cost is a necessary one.

    I have a question. It’s not clear to me that honesty itself is the goal. I want honesty (in economics anyway) because it increases efficiency. People don’t want transparency because there’s some high-minded moral principle saying transparency is good. They want it because it creates trust, reducing suspicion, and thereby increasing efficiency. Don’t they? I guess in my mind, the economy is about the efficient allocation or resources. Theft is inefficient, it is naturally disincentivized, isn’t it? I mean in a truly free market, cheaters would most definitely be punished (especially if we didn’t bail them out).

    When we implement measures to improve the equitable distribution of something (like, say, education), then the people who were privileged under the previously inequitable systems get all up in arms that they are being discriminated against.

    I think this is a good point, but I have to wonder who decides what “equitable” means? I mean this is at the core of so many political and economic viewpoints. I’m probably going to piss some people off with this, but to me, educational reward should be merit based, not gender based, or race based. Improving the equitable distribution of education, to me, would imply getting more funding for capable students who want that good (education), not incentivizing schools to admit a certain number of minority students (please don’t get mad at me, I’m not racist, I swear). The “equitable” allocation of resources to me, would indicate we should give resources to those most likely to use them to society’s overall benefit. Am I totally off my rocker?

    for you to lose the unequitable portion is not a valid harm against you.

    Absolutely, I agree. But the reality is, companies are going to pass the inequity on to the consumer, which in general hurts poor people more than anyone (which you mention is a valid complaint). I’m not against bad regulation because I want to free up big corporations to pocket more of their profits. I’m against bad regulation because it primarily hurts those it intends to help.

    I certainly don’t think we are all that good at writing regulation…But the answer to this isn’t total deregulation…

    What I conclude is that our opinions aren’t that different. I completely agree with you here. I am not a proponent of total deregulation. The enforcement of private property rights is critical (and that is certainly a complicated area to regulate). It seems like either you’ve got me pegged, or others pegged as wanting total deregulation. Maybe I come across that way. I don’t intend to.

    So, I think it’s ok to be skeptical of market regulation in the sense that 1) we haven’t developed a good way to approach it and 2) the same underlying environmental issues that make deregulation a bad idea ALSO hurt our efforts at regulation…And as you’ve mentioned, 3) even when we do find a way to implement the social costs of certain values into economic policy or law, we don’t have a good way of placing those costs on businesses rathe than consumers.

    Yes, exactly. I really feel like this is what I’m trying to say, you just said it better than I could. As I said, I can’t help but feel our disagreement is perhaps only a few degrees, not binary.

    BUT unless you are just skeptical of humanity’s penchant for solving tough problems in general, that doesn’t mean you should be skeptical of regulation across the board.

    Well, this is loaded. In the physical world we can model complex systems mathematically to a certain level of precision. I think it’s natural economics has tried to do the same. But it’s tricky business because of sheer complexity (and those damn free agents called humans). We don’t yet have near the mathematical tools or understanding to model something as complex as an economy. I don’t think that means we should give up, but it should give us pause and cause us to question the models we have. Even the most complex system I’ve worked on (and some are pretty complex)) pales in comparison to the economy.

    Instead, that means you should support research that can synthesize the best of what we know about human behavior, psychology, sociology, economics, etc., into “smarter” and more humane regulation.

    Absolutely. I agree. And I do.

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  15. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Re Cowboy-
    I think you make a great point. I really do feel like I agree with what both you and Andrew are saying. Perhaps I don’t come across that way.

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  16. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    re Bob-

    What would be better for those on that cruise ship better regulations on the Captain__or more prison time for him?
    What would have been better for the people who had their money in Enron__more regulations before it fell apart__or more jail for those who caused the loss?

    1. Regulations on the captain would only have been better had they actually prevented the disaster. This is a probability at best (not a guarantee). We would also have to be certain that those regulations didn’t prevent the captain from thwarting a different disaster. We would also have to be certain that someone would actually want to be the captain given the regulations.
    2. We don’t have consequences for breaking laws because it’s some sort of recompense for the crime. The primary function of consequences is the threat of it. If driving drunk were punishable by death, you better believe drunk driving numbers would go down. We have to balance the punishment with the severity of the crime though. If the CEO of a corporation will go to jail for life for accounting scandals, don’t you think he would do everything in his power to make sure it didn’t happen?

    I absolutely would be in favor of well written regulation, such as Andrew proposes (which I think would inherently reduce the amount of regulation in our society), and tougher (and more importantly) enforced consequences that hold CEOs and board members accountable for corruption and dishonesty.

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  17. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Re Andrew and Cowboy-
    One last question. I suppose a good example of bad regulation that I oppose is the controversial SOPA and PIPA (which right now is preventing me from finding an answer to a question on Wikipedia since Wikipedia is blacked out). We are preparing to surrender the free and open internets in favor of allegedly protecting IP. At first glance, sure we should protect copyrighted materials and IP. But what are the downsides? As usual, who benefits? MPAA, and record companies. Who loses? Everyone else, including businesses who would now have the obligation to police the internet.

    Thoughts?

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  18. MH on January 18, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    jmb and others, are there laws now that throw bankers on Enron execs into jail for wrecking the economy? If so, why aren’t they being enforced?

    Would proponents of de-regulation enforce jail time for dishonest people, or is that considered a regulation?

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  19. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Re MH

    jmb and others, are there laws now that throw bankers on Enron execs into jail for wrecking the economy? If so, why aren’t they being enforced?

    Well, I’m not a lawyer or an economist, but there is a book by Mike Mayo, a bank auditor (one of only a few), in which he illustrates how he predicted the bank collapse but was shunned and scolded by employers and banks alike. In the book he talks a lot about how our current regulation isn’t bad (I disagree, as Andrew seems to as well), just that it’s not enforced. I’m not sure why they’re not enforced. We have a society that bails out banks, and allows board executives to absolve themselves of responsibility. One of my biggest complaints in our society is that we don’t let people reap the consequences of their actions. That goes for teenagers and bank executives alike. But I don’t know the details.

    Would proponents of de-regulation enforce jail time for dishonest people, or is that considered a regulation?

    I think I’ve made it clear I’m not in favor of total deregulation, just a proponent of removing bad regulations. I am in favor of good regulation (I just think there’s not much of it). So I assume you’re not talking to me. But to answer, yes, absolutely, I would be in favor of harsher penalties for dishonesty and enforcement of those penalties. Incidentally, I would be in favor of harsher penalties for drunk driving, and sex crimes (especially involving a minor) as well. The way we give dishonest businessmen a free pass is despicable.

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  20. Cowboy on January 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    JMB275 & Bob:

    The cruise ship did have regulations, but the Captain ignored them.

    JMB275:

    Given the context of our previous discussions, I didn’t take it that you were advocating total deregulation, I just think that in the area of “honesty” Andrew S. articulated one particular point where the question of regulation can be brought out of abstract terms and into practical application. Particularly when he said:

    “My point would be that if we want a market in which companies are honest, then there’s a cost related to that externality (since normally, positive externalities like “honesty” are going to be underproduced since they are economically valued lower than their social value) that must be implemented in the system. This is the increased cost of compliance. Yes, companies are going to complain that it costs more to comply with more stringent audit regulations, but essentially, if we want to have an honest society, then this cost is a necessary one.”

    Still, while there are appropriate costs, I find myself a little torn on the costs because of the issue you raise of global competitiveness. If our economy were self-contained the issue of appropriate costs would be more cut-and-dried. Whereas our current competitors, such as China, whose software sector thrives pirating American software by the way, don’t have these costs, I am unsure what the best recourse is? Tariffs perhaps?

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  21. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    @MH,

    Regulations apply to specific industries and are not broad laws that apply to everyone and is consequently contrary to God’s law (natural law). Under natural law (which applies to everyone), the person that was defrauding someone else must reconcile the damage. It is contrary to a free society to seek retaliative law, instead one must seek restitutive law so the actual damage is repaired.

    The law of Moses is therefore not a law of retaliation, but a law of reparation.
    —–
    But in the higher law of the gospel specific additional commandments were not required. Under the law of Christ a person does not have to be told to guard against negligence or to make restitution for accidental loss. He will do it because he loves his neighbor. The law of Moses specified how the law was lived in daily, practical situations, but it still taught the law of Christ.

    See (the whole thing is presented fairly well): http://institute.lds.org/manuals/old-testament-institute-student-manual-1/ot-in1-04-exo-12.asp

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  22. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    One of my biggest complaints in our society is that we don’t let people reap the consequences of their actions.

    AKA liberty. Mosiah 29:38

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  23. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    MH,

    One last thing on the question you asked. It’s a natural consequence of regulations that many CEOs etc get off scott free for their actions. One regulation is the creation of corporations that give immunity to the individuals for their actions.

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  24. Cowboy on January 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Jon:

    “Regulations apply to specific industries and are not broad laws that apply to everyone and is consequently contrary to God’s law (natural law). Under natural law (which applies to everyone), the person that was defrauding someone else must reconcile the damage.”

    I would argue that the parable of the talents suggests that everyone is not governed equally by God’s laws. Additionally, D&C 82:3 seems to reinforce the idea that the laws do not equally apply:

    “For of him unto whom much is bgiven much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.”

    I think you often miss in your parallel driven market theology, how the atonement of Christ would play into the scenario. Yes, Mormon theology teaches personal accountability, but it also teaches about a free gift of salvation that is bestowed on all. If you are going to insist on the theological reference points, you can’t ommit the most fundamental theological imperative.

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  25. mh on January 18, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    well jon, jmb, and other libertarians. you’ve got a message problem, imo. if you want to deregulate the market and convince people that deregulation is a good thing, then you need to do a better job of proclaiming the message that dishonest people need to be jailed. anybody that cooks the books to enrich themselves should be jailed and do as much restitution as humanly possible. in other words, don’t spout deregulation as much as jail for dishonesty. perhaps you will gain some converts if enforcement is your emphasis rather than deregulation.

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  26. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    mh,

    That’s the thing though. Yes, there should be punishment, but jail time? There’s no reason for jail time in this instance, there is need for restitution. A person can make more restitution outside of jail rather than in it. Jail time would just be retaliative and all sides would end up losers.

    But I agree, people assume that just because there is no regulation that there would be no enforcement. Even in anarcho-capitalism (voluntarism) there would be enforcement.

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  27. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Cowboy,

    Yes, I guess there would need to be some reconciliation between the scripture you quoted and “God is no respecter of persons”. I’ll have to think about and get back to you later on that one, if I think of something.

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  28. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Re MH-

    well jon, jmb, and other libertarians. you’ve got a message problem, imo. if you want to deregulate the market and convince people that deregulation is a good thing, then you need to do a better job of proclaiming the message that dishonest people need to be jailed.

    Absolutely. Thanks for the pointer MH. I don’t think anyone believes that dishonesty should be rewarded. I agree there is a communication gap on the part of most libertarians.

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  29. jmb275 on January 18, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Re Cowboy-

    I just think that in the area of “honesty” Andrew S. articulated one particular point where the question of regulation can be brought out of abstract terms and into practical application. Particularly when he said

    Yes, it is a good point.

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  30. Cowboy on January 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Jon:

    fair enough.

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  31. mh on January 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    jon, if you can’t explain enforcement in terms that make sense, you will not gain converts to anarchy.

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  32. Bob on January 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    #20: Cowboy,
    I was on a large cruise ship in Mexico last year. We used two very rocky bays. Both times 1) the ship-BY REGULATION- was under the control of the harbor captain, not the cruise captain. 2)each time-BY REGULATION- we followed a U.S. Coast Guard boat and in and out of the harbor. We did not sink.

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  33. Bob on January 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    @22: jon,
    “One of my biggest complaints in our society is that we don’t let people reap the consequences of their actions”.
    Many “actions” cause millions of dollars in claims that can never be paid back by an individual. A drunk driver who kills a family of four, can never pay back for that “action”. Your “eye for an eye” does not make people whole again.
    Do you have car insurance__why?

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  34. Stan Beale on January 18, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Just a simple timeline of California history

    1933 6.5 Long Beach Earthquake. The quake occurred at 5:55 PM. A number of brick and masonary school buildings collapsed. Loss of life would have been substantial if schools were in session.

    1935 Field Act. A law was passed requiring schools to be made earthquake safe.

    1933-1968. Little done to close or retrofit schools.

    1967-1968 Two acts sponsored by Leroy Greene were passed which made individual school board members liable for injury to students harmed in an earthquake.

    1976. By the end of the time period allowed by Greene I and Greene 2 all Earthquake unsafe schools were closed or retreofitted

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  35. Mormon Heretic on January 18, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Jon,

    One more question for you. The banks made a killing on loaning people money on houses and on default credit swaps. When the housing bubble burst, more money was owed on homes than the home was worth. It is impossible for bankers to do restitution. If we don’t send them to jail and we can’t get restitution, what enforcement mechanism is there that you propose will solve this problem?

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  36. hawkgrrrl on January 18, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    jmb275: First of all, I was surprised in the OP that you felt libertarians were being criticized for being pro-greed! Really? I think libertarians (or anarchists as you call those to the right of you) are merely quixotic and too idealistic. The principles sound great, but the world is a bit more complex in practice.

    “I mean in a truly free market, cheaters would most definitely be punished (especially if we didn’t bail them out).” Let’s not mix things up. Wall Street didn’t collapse because people were cheating. Bankers found and exploited the loopholes in the regulations, just like all business people do, and they made extremely short term decisions that were not sustainable but had a high return on the stock market. Their companies were foolish for following a short term strategy that was toxic.

    If you don’t have regulation, it’s all loopholes. And it’s not necessarily greed that drives people to the loopholes; it’s sometimes the survival of their business in a complex and competitive environment. For example, if one company takes bailout money, their competitors have to also or the ones on the dole are suddenly in a better position than they are (even if they didn’t need the bailout money). That’s part of the problem of intervention.

    I do agree with you that the core issue isn’t that regulations exist, just that they are poorly written and have weird gaps in them that drive undesirable behaviors.

    “educational reward should be merit based, not gender based, or race based. Improving the equitable distribution of education, to me, would imply getting more funding for capable students who want that good (education), not incentivizing schools to admit a certain number of minority students”
    I would have said something similar about 10 years ago, but in practice, what I see is that systems favor the status quo and the existing entitled groups. For example, businesses are inherently built to be more friendly to men than women. It is also too easy to couch bias in merit & selection criteria to truly give people an equal shake. For example, an executive could be fired for having poor relationships (when she is getting boxed out by male colleagues). Or a candidate could not be selected because it is believed she won’t be as committed or will have a poor attendance record because she has children. These are biases hidden as merit. If I really believed we could get to actual merit consistently, I’d agree with you. But I don’t. Hence, I support affirmative action.

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  37. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Since I am using Internet Explorer 7 (ugggggh) on my work computer, I can’t properly see comment numbers. So I hope whomever I respond to can tell which comment of theirs I was responding to.

    jmb

    Honesty is critical to success (we teach our kids that cheaters never prosper which is really a statement of faith in whatever system you adopt to punish cheaters). Basic honesty must be enforced…somehow.

    I’m going to push back starting here. Do we really teach our kids that cheaters never prosper? Or do we give mixed signals (perhaps saying overtly that cheaters never prosper, but then indirectly suggesting or implying that they do. I mean, I can throw out another cliche expression: “nice guys finish last.” )

    For example, everyone who is in a business class (especially a business ethics class) who believes that “maximizing shareholder value” is the ultimate goal is going to come into several situations where cheaters do prosper.

    And…from a larger game theoretical perspective…in many cases, if one person “cheats” but the other plays by the rules, the person who plays by the rules is extremely disadvantaged with respect to the person who cheated. (If EVERYONE cheats, then everyone does worse off, however.) Both of these ideas come into play, for example, with voluntary environmental safeguarding…companies that voluntarily put checks on the disposal of waste, etc., incur costs that companies who don’t put checks on their disposal will not incur. As a result, the companies that voluntarily do the right thing will be less profitable, and thus less enticing to shareholders. If maximizing shareholder value is what you value, then it’s best to “cheat” on costly things like environmental protection.

    I have a question. It’s not clear to me that honesty itself is the goal. I want honesty (in economics anyway) because it increases efficiency. People don’t want transparency because there’s some high-minded moral principle saying transparency is good. They want it because it creates trust, reducing suspicion, and thereby increasing efficiency. Don’t they?

    Firstly, I would say that it’s kinda scary if we don’t value honesty for honesty’s sake. This is kinda what I’m talking about: if we value honesty instrumentally (or if we buy into an economic system that values honesty instrumentally), then we’re going to have to be wary if we accidentally develop a system that devalues honesty.

    …but what I was really going to say was: here’s the interesting thing about honesty/transparency/trust and efficiency. Once again, it comes back to the economic environment that we have — and as I was saying, these things aren’t neutral. As I mentioned before, America’s capital market is mostly widely dispersed ownership equity market (e.g., corporate stocks are owned by several investors, whether institutional or individual.)

    Because of the wide dispersal of ownership, there are larger asynchronicities in information known. Basically, most of us don’t know anything about the firms we invest in. That’s why the principals/owners (stockholders) of publicly held corporations hire agents (managers) [via the Board of Directors] who run the companies for the owners’ sake.

    But the managers always have information that the dispersed owners do not. So, transparency/honesty is valuable from an efficiency standpoint not because it reduces suspicion and improves trust but because even in the presence of suspicion, the owners will still be able to make informed decisions.

    In other words, if you trust your teenage daughter, you don’t need to have her tell you every place she plans to be for her evening out. You don’t need to have her call every hour. Transparency is not necessary when you have trust, because you already have a shared context that builds the trust (e.g., over a course of building a relationship, you know whether a person is trustworthy or not.)

    If you haven’t built that relationship (which, many parents haven’t built with their budding teenagers…and shareholders surely haven’t with the far-off companies listed on the stock exchanges), then you need transparency so that you can make decisions in light of that skepticism.

    I guess in my mind, the economy is about the efficient allocation or resources. Theft is inefficient, it is naturally disincentivized, isn’t it? I mean in a truly free market, cheaters would most definitely be punished (especially if we didn’t bail them out).

    This is going to get into my discussion of equity later on…but one thing I would like to point out is that you’re looking at things from a transactional value. There are a few things to point out. 1) Transactional approaches don’t take into account all costs. (E.g., if we do a sucky job of embedding the cost of pollution into product pricing, then even though the debit equals the credit, the cost figures are simply wrong for any transaction we have. The free market hasn’t convincingly shown it can address this.)

    Secondly, a transactional approach cannot address the pre-transactional state. If we don’t all start from the same starting ground, then a free market will simply exacerbate and maintain current imbalances. (Think about it like this: in a “truly free market,” cheaters would more likely be punished by those who have the resources to pay for them to be punished. In other words, cheaters are punished when they affect the currently rich in a negative way…but the poor do not have the economic wherewithal to defend themselves from cheaters. This is something you’ve already mentioned as a point against regulation: the costs of regulations are passed to consumers.)

    The bailout is actually a perfect example of this — and in fact, it might go to show the fictitiousness of a free market.

    To explain: what is the government’s role? Is it to protect the little people from being trampled by big corporations? Or is it to protect property owners from being mobbed by the masses of non-property owners. For this one, I’ll throw another Adam Smith quote at you:

    “Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is, in reality, instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have property against those who have none at all.”

    This is precisely what the bailout and various things is about. Those who have property increasingly rely upon the government to protect their property ownership. This is even in the case when they screw up with respect to their own property.

    You might think: but clearly, that’s government’s fault. BUT here’s the thing…suppose you didn’t have an organized government. If you could get people with concentrated property, they would quickly find it prudent to develop a government to protect their property. Even if it was just in hiring their own private thugs to beat up anyone who tried to rob them.

    The problem: the poor don’t have the resources to do the same.

    I think this is a good point, but I have to wonder who decides what “equitable” means? I mean this is at the core of so many political and economic viewpoints. I’m probably going to piss some people off with this, but to me, educational reward should be merit based, not gender based, or race based. Improving the equitable distribution of education, to me, would imply getting more funding for capable students who want that good (education), not incentivizing schools to admit a certain number of minority students (please don’t get mad at me, I’m not racist, I swear). The “equitable” allocation of resources to me, would indicate we should give resources to those most likely to use them to society’s overall benefit. Am I totally off my rocker?

    I think the difference is between “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcomes.” I know that conservative types like to talk about equality of opportunity and how they are all for it…but ultimately, they are missing a big part of it. We have to actually achieve equality of opportunity first before we can start bandying it around as a basis of policy. And so, because we aren’t at an equitable starting place, all our transactional economy really does is continue to perpetuate inequality of outcomes that don’t relate to individual performance alone.

    To relate it to what you were saying…you think educational reward should be merit based, not gender- or race-based. But who’s to say that society sets all genders and races up the same to perform as well as one another? In order to support merit-based reward without factoring in for gender/race/etc., you have to assume that all students are at the same level playing field — they all start with the same resources — and that therefore, differences in merit are based on differences in individual output.

    What people who promote various affirmative action schemes point out is that various groups (women, certain minorities, poor folk etc.,) simply don’t start out with the same resources in many cases.

    I mean, many people who dislike affirmative action can nevertheless get on board with financial aid for the poor because at a basic level, they understand this idea: not everyone begins with the same resources. The problem is that they think too shallowly about our society’s privileges and disadvantages. We can’t reduce all disadvantage to “economic disadvantage” or “economic privilege.”

    So, to me, it seems like your idea of equity can never really achieve equity. Because it STARTS with a presumption of the equity of the status quo: that those who currently would be most likely to use society’s resources to society’s ultimate benefit would do so purely because of their individual merit, and not because of other factors like, say, their starting social, economic, racial, or gender privileges.

    On the economic level, we understand this. We understand that a rich kid will have a starting advantage because of his wealth…so his merit will likely be greater not simply because of his individual aspects, but because he has starting resources he can employ to his benefit.

    I would just contend further that society has privileges across gender and racial lines as well, so we have to account for these as well.

    Absolutely, I agree. But the reality is, companies are going to pass the inequity on to the consumer, which in general hurts poor people more than anyone (which you mention is a valid complaint). I’m not against bad regulation because I want to free up big corporations to pocket more of their profits. I’m against bad regulation because it primarily hurts those it intends to help.

    So develop a regulation that doesn’t allow corporations to effectively pass the cost on to consumers (or penalizes them for doing such).

    What I conclude is that our opinions aren’t that different. I completely agree with you here. I am not a proponent of total deregulation. The enforcement of private property rights is critical (and that is certainly a complicated area to regulate). It seems like either you’ve got me pegged, or others pegged as wanting total deregulation. Maybe I come across that way. I don’t intend to.

    Maybe I’m just being contrary, but I would like to say there is more difference to our opinions than you think.

    If you prioritize the enforcement of private property rights (as you do), but do nothing about the starting distribution of the private property (that’s equity, rather than equality, which would be the ending distribution, so to speak), then you will ultimately end up with the situation where institutions are created for the express purpose of the private property holders to avoid their property being taken. That leads, in the extreme, to bailouts.

    In some sense, you want the best of both worlds. You want “private property rights,” but you don’t realize that a legal right isn’t something that just exists pure from the spring. It gets expanded, bent out of shape, etc., until companies become “too big to fail.”

    We don’t yet have near the mathematical tools or understanding to model something as complex as an economy. I don’t think that means we should give up, but it should give us pause and cause us to question the models we have.

    I guess my issue is that many “free market” economists basically say exactly what you claim not to be saying: “because there are these pesky complex variables called people, we should give up.”

    One thing I would say is that we need to think less of mathematical models and more of social models or psychological models. If we are thinking of humans are mathematical beings, we are going to have distortions. Instead, we need to be a lot more “mushy” and think in terms of values, psychology, and social incentives. Because we don’t really have those, our mathematics-focused economics totally wrecks us.

    For an example, maybe you’ve read Freakonomics. They give an example of city that really disapproved of people letting their dogs poop around the city. At first, there was no fine, but there was great social stigma against letter your dog poop around the city. But soon, the city introduced a fine…and dog poop increased. Why? Because the introduction of a financial cost superseded the convincing social cost. And the financial cost happened to be something that people could rationalize.

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  38. Bradley on January 18, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    The thing is, humans are herd animals. If the herd wants to run off a cliff, like they did with the housing bubble, should they be prevented from doing so? If you’re not planning a huge barbecue, yes.

    But if you look at the out-of-control cost structure of certain industries, it’s usually caused by regulation. So there has to be a balance. When deregulation fails, it fails big. So, I’d prefer to err on the regulated side.

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  39. hawkgrrrl on January 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Andrew S: “One thing I would say is that we need to think less of mathematical models and more of social models or psychological models.” QFT! Yet, lawmakers are generally really crappy sociologists and psychologists. Many are not even great at math.

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  40. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    jmb275

    One last question. I suppose a good example of bad regulation that I oppose is the controversial SOPA and PIPA (which right now is preventing me from finding an answer to a question on Wikipedia since Wikipedia is blacked out). We are preparing to surrender the free and open internets in favor of allegedly protecting IP. At first glance, sure we should protect copyrighted materials and IP. But what are the downsides? As usual, who benefits? MPAA, and record companies. Who loses? Everyone else, including businesses who would now have the obligation to police the internet.

    This relates pretty strongly to my Adam Smith quote. To the extent that you have wide disparities in property ownership, then those who have property are going to seek to protect themselves from those who don’t. If there is a government, they’ll use that. If not, then they’ll devote resources to develop something analogous.

    That’s basically what’s happening with SOPA/PIPA.

    The issue is that we need to look at government less as a vehicle for property owners to protect their property rights from the mob of non-property owners (and that is, I think, a fundamental different between us…you continue to think property right maintenance is paramount, without putting a check on the disparities in property ownership) and more as a vehicle for economically unrepresented or poorly represented individuals to protect themselves from those who are ecnomically privileged.

    …unfortunately, we aren’t there yet. And especially with things like Citizens United, the system is now lopsided even more in favor of large property owners.

    MH,

    jmb and others, are there laws now that throw bankers on Enron execs into jail for wrecking the economy? If so, why aren’t they being enforced?

    Generally, you don’t get laws to throw (insert corporate person here) in jail “for wrecking the economy.” At best, you get laws to throw (insert corporate person here) in jail for doing something rather specific, that when done will probably wreck the economy sooner or later.

    So, the deal is that Enron was basically a different sort of deal than the financial crisis.

    So, with every crisis you get a new “issue of the week,” and then Congress scrambles to make a post-outrage law to address the specific issue addressed that time. And then over time they amend things to lighten things up (waah waah America’s uncompetitive! etc.,)

    jmb

    Well, I’m not a lawyer or an economist, but there is a book by Mike Mayo, a bank auditor (one of only a few), in which he illustrates how he predicted the bank collapse but was shunned and scolded by employers and banks alike. In the book he talks a lot about how our current regulation isn’t bad (I disagree, as Andrew seems to as well), just that it’s not enforced. I’m not sure why they’re not enforced. We have a society that bails out banks, and allows board executives to absolve themselves of responsibility. One of my biggest complaints in our society is that we don’t let people reap the consequences of their actions. That goes for teenagers and bank executives alike. But I don’t know the details

    As far as enforcement…here’s one question: who enforces these regulations? It’s usually an understaffed, underpaid government agency (EPA, especially) who is subject to either be bought out by the corporations they are supposed to be regulating or defunded by some political candidates who wants to deregulate (because she’s being funded by lobbyists from…guess who?)

    Why should you reap the consequences of your actions if you have the money to avoid it? I guarantee you that less wealthy people reap the consequences of their actions all the time. The distortions we see is because property produces privilege and we don’t even reconsider that in the equation.

    Cowboy,

    Still, while there are appropriate costs, I find myself a little torn on the costs because of the issue you raise of global competitiveness. If our economy were self-contained the issue of appropriate costs would be more cut-and-dried. Whereas our current competitors, such as China, whose software sector thrives pirating American software by the way, don’t have these costs, I am unsure what the best recourse is? Tariffs perhaps?

    Coincidentally, I think that the China situation, is a perfect example of how cheating “prospers” (unlike jmb’s idea from earlier). Why put money into software R&D when you can pirate? Why put money into environmental standards? Health and safety standards? etc., You can make things so much more cheaply if you ignore the social costs of sick and/or dead kids.

    The issue is that we can’t effectively “punish” or “regulate” China: tariffs produce a lot of problems economically and politically, so they are un-ideal. Generally, since we Americans like really cheap Chinese things, we ignore the social costs of them.

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  41. Andrew S on January 18, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    I would have said something similar about 10 years ago, but in practice, what I see is that systems favor the status quo and the existing entitled groups. For example, businesses are inherently built to be more friendly to men than women. It is also too easy to couch bias in merit & selection criteria to truly give people an equal shake. For example, an executive could be fired for having poor relationships (when she is getting boxed out by male colleagues). Or a candidate could not be selected because it is believed she won’t be as committed or will have a poor attendance record because she has children. These are biases hidden as merit. If I really believed we could get to actual merit consistently, I’d agree with you. But I don’t. Hence, I support affirmative action.

    Well, you basically summed in one paragraph what I struggled to explain in several! *golf clap*

    hawkgrrrl (different comment)

    “One thing I would say is that we need to think less of mathematical models and more of social models or psychological models.” QFT! Yet, lawmakers are generally really crappy sociologists and psychologists. Many are not even great at math.

    Yeah, one thing I think is interesting is how depending on the country, different types of careers can be preferred in leadership roles. For example, in the US, governmental/legislative roles are usually preferred for people with a legal background. (I mean, anyone can be a Congressperson, but we usually think of it as a job for someone with a law background.)

    Contrast to China, where the CCP has generally picked people with an engineering background.

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  42. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    #31, MH,

    Ad hominem attack. A good argument would have been. This point that you made and that point that you made don’t make sense to me, could you please explain them differently?

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  43. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Bob #33,

    Once again you missed my point. Go back and read them again. Stop thinking in the red vs blue mindset, that should help you understand a little better. Also, read the link I gave to the Institute Student Manual. That should clear things up for you. I usually don’t refer to that but that section did a pretty good job of explaining aspects of God’s law (natural law) and covenants.

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  44. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    #34 Stan Beale,

    Yes, the individual should be held responsible. That was what was lacking. A new law shouldn’t have needed to be made to make people be responsible, previous laws should have been taken away that made these people immune to their actions. One regulation on top of another to fix previous regulations.

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  45. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    #35, MH,

    A little money returning to the people affected is better than none and a person being able to live in society and be productive is better than taking money from the populace to put them in jail. What you propose is that people got screwed over on their money through fraud, then you propose to take more money from them to put the perpetrators in jail. Restitution would work better since we wouldn’t have to pay for the perpetrators to live and the people would at least get some of their money back.

    In New Zealand the government decided that they weren’t going to subsidize farms at the same level they were. So the property values went down. The land owners worked with their banks to lower the cost of the property. All sides were winners.

    In the US, continued regulations have exacerbated the problems by incentivizing the banks to prefer foreclosure over working with those with loans. Also, remember, regulations were in part responsible for banks giving loans to people that wouldn’t pay them back, regulations were responsible for a large some of cash flowing so banks would give out more loans, regulations were responsible for banks not going out of business for risking investing, regulations were responsible for people not caring where their money is help because it is “always” safe through government mandated insurance programs.

    You’re only looking at half the story. There were multiple parties at fault and the bankers were only one party. So, congress and multiple past presidents should be held accountable too.

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  46. Jon on January 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    #36, hawkgrrrl,

    are merely quixotic and too idealistic. The principles sound great, but the world is a bit more complex in practice.

    One day people will realize that not only the principles that Christ taught are ideal but practical for they truly are but “two sides of the same coin.” Love will rule out in the end. Unfortunately people don’t believe it.

    Let’s not mix things up. Wall Street didn’t collapse because people were cheating. Bankers found and exploited the loopholes in the regulations, just like all business people do, and they made extremely short term decisions that were not sustainable but had a high return on the stock market.

    That’s why the free markets work so well, a business does shading things they go out of business, people stop patronizing their business because they are interested in their money too. Look what regulations get us, no punishment at all, but he reverse, they were rewarded. Those who we wished to aggress become our masters.

    If you don’t have regulation, it’s all loopholes.

    What loop hole is there for fraud?

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  47. MH on January 18, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Ad hominem attack? JMB didn’t think it was ad hominem, yet JMB agreed in 28 that “there is a communication gap on the part of most libertarians.” I said the same thing to both of you, yet you were defensive and jmb was not. Seriously, you’ve got a communication problem. At least jmb isn’t defensive about it.

    Now, your solution in 45 is better than I expected. I agree with you that past presidents (Clinton and Bush) contributed to this problem, as well as Greenspan–yet nobody is holding them accountable. Seriously Jon, what are you advocating to hold them accountable?

    Exactly how would you incentive banks to prefer a solution besides foreclosure? Also, I’m not familiar with New Zealand. Was this a government mandated solution to lower property values, or did the banks just magnanimously did this of their own free will because they are more Christlike bankers than the U.S. has?

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  48. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    mh,

    Regardless, #31 didn’t help the conversation at all. And yes, you did say the same before, which I didn’t get defensive about, I got defensive when you said I wasn’t making any sense. Which I shouldn’t have.

    Are you asking how I would hold the presidents accountable? I can’t claim to know everything. Personally I would consider the war crimes both presidents were involved in much more important, banking is small beens compared to that. But back to the point. I suppose you would need to hold them responsible the same as you would the bankers. Of course, they beyond the reach of the law, like most bankers unfortunately.

    How to incentivize banks to not prefer foreclosure, easy, stop giving them money to foreclose houses.

    As far as I know the NZ banks did it of their own free accord. People are kinder to one another when they are given liberty (responsibility for their own actions).

    I couldn’t find the original article I had read (probably on Mises) but here is a short quote from another site:

    An interesting example of farmers prospering without subsidies is in New Zealand.34 That nation ended its farm subsidies in 1984, which was a bold stroke because the country is four times more dependent on farming than is the United States. The changes were initially met with fierce resistance, but New Zealand farm productivity, profitability, and output have soared since the reforms.35 New Zealand’s farmers have cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed niche markets such as kiwifruit.

    Today, data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that farm subsidies in New Zealand represent just 1 percent of the value of farm production, which compares to 11 percent in the United States.36 New Zealand’s main farm organization argues that the nation’s experience “thoroughly debunked the myth that the farming sector cannot prosper without government subsidies.”37 That myth needs to be debunked in the United States as well.

    http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/agriculture/subsidies

    It’s interesting to read the NZ history of deregulation. It’s also interesting to read about how a highly regulated people have trouble transferring over to a freer people, like those guys from the Soviet Union that would go to Finland, only to return to SU because they couldn’t handle all the choices.

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  49. Bob on January 19, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    @ Jon,
    ___And despite all this__we Still made trillions of dollars!!
    Look around you Jon. Yes!__millions of people are hurting/or have been hurt. NO question. But hundreds of millions are not. They live in homes and are going to work, (not selling apples on the steet).
    You don’t scare me Jon. I can still live a nice life in the U.S. of A.

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  50. jmb275 on January 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Re Hawk/Andrew-

    I would have said something similar about 10 years ago, but in practice, what I see is that systems favor the status quo and the existing entitled groups.

    I think this is a really fundamental difference as Andrew has pointed out. See, to me, when you say “the system” what are you talking about? To me, this is a social problem. Women and minorities have fewer opportunities, through no fault of their own, I agree. But this is a problem with people, and attempts to make it right intrinsically are the incarnation of the very problem they propose to solve. So you seek to curb racial discrimination by implementing a racially discriminating policy. People have to change here, there has to be social change. It’s not obvious to me that attempting to equalize opportunities via laws and policies helps create that change. I suppose I draw a fairly clear line between the role of gov’t and the role of religion. I view it as the job of religion, the MLKJs of the world, etc. to preach to people and encourage us to play nice (a la the golden rule). That’s what creates change, people like MLKJ, not desegregation laws. It’s the job of the gov’t to be fair, to treat every citizen the same. It’s NOT the gov’t’s job in my view to ensure equality of opportunity. And when it does it violates its own creed!

    So, to me, it seems like your idea of equity can never really achieve equity. Because it STARTS with a presumption of the equity of the status quo: that those who currently would be most likely to use society’s resources to society’s ultimate benefit would do so purely because of their individual merit, and not because of other factors like, say, their starting social, economic, racial, or gender privileges.

    I think you think I don’t understand this. I do. I get it. I get that it’s not just, that it’s not fair. Guess what, it’s not fair to everyone! Everyone has a social injustice to bitch about, even rich kids. But I think we have to have a starting point. I think it’s ludicrous to try and compensate for every social, economic, racial, or gender loss of opportunity.

    As usual, where do we start? Are rich black kids given the same “opportunity” because they’re black, or do we figure they’re privileged because they’re rich? And what about the poor white kid? What about the social stigma that surrounds a black female doctor? Do you know how many people (non-white people too) have told me they would never go see a black female doctor because they have no idea how competent she is? We create racial and class warfare by trying to equalize opportunity based on those indicators! Merit based opportunity is NOT completely fair, as you’ve pointed out precisely because of injustices from birth. But tell me, what is more fair? It seems to me, merit is without doubt the *most* fair way to judge a person. Isn’t that the point of MLKJ ideas? Living in a world where people are judged by the content of the character (which I believe naturally extends to what a person does) not the color of their skin? (incidentally, FWIW, in my dept. here at UofM, the majority of students are foreigners (most from Asia and the middle east), not white rich kids. But blacks are *very* underrepresented here. It seems that the stereotypical white privileged male is not as qualified based on merit, as are foreign applicants. As a result, I’m definitely in the minority here.)

    We have to have cultural change here. People living in the ghetto need to change just as much as the rest of us. If you don’t believe there’s a culture in low-income welfare neighborhoods, you clearly haven’t lived there. I have. There’s a reason why many of those people stay in welfare, their kids grow up and get welfare, their kids grow up and get welfare, etc. etc. And it’s absolutely NOT completely dependent on circumstance and opportunity. It’s cultural as well. The problem, in my view, is that when we implore the gov’t to enforce our idea of morality, our idea of justice, our idea of equality, we become guilty of propagating the very same thing we despise – being subject to an unjust system. After all, how many capable white kids are rejected because less capable minorities were admitted? If there’s even one, how is that fair for him? The only fair thing to do, for *everyone* is to maximize liberty and try hard to convince people that they should care enough about their fellows to help try and equalize opportunity for everyone. Inasmuch as we, as citizens, don’t do that, we should prepare for our inevitable decline and perhaps destruction.

    And this is why I mentioned in the beginning that libertarians are seen as promoting greed. It’s the same as conservatives. Andrew, you seem to think that conservatives (which I don’t consider myself to be mind you) haven’t thought about the points you bring up. Many of them have. I have. But when each of us weighs our values we have to decide what should carry the day. I believe that using gov’t (which amounts to using force) to achieve one’s moral ends (even righteous moral ends) is an evil in and of itself (deontological ethics anyone?). Sometimes, for me, I’m willing to admit that evil for what I think is the greater good (utilitarian ethics). Sometimes I’m not. I think most people are the same. Where we draw that line is what separates us.

    Re regulation: Andrew, I really do appreciate your nuanced responses. You clearly know a lot more about it than me, so I appreciate you sharing. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

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  51. jmb275 on January 19, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Andrew-

    I guess my issue is that many “free market” economists basically say exactly what you claim not to be saying: “because there are these pesky complex variables called people, we should give up.”

    Yeah, I know. I clearly like the maths and models, so I’m pretty partial to it. I don’t think our current models work real well, but I wouldn’t throw in the towel entirely as many Austrian economists would prefer.

    One thing I would say is that we need to think less of mathematical models and more of social models or psychological models. If we are thinking of humans are mathematical beings, we are going to have distortions. Instead, we need to be a lot more “mushy” and think in terms of values, psychology, and social incentives. Because we don’t really have those, our mathematics-focused economics totally wrecks us.

    Yeah, I agree completely with you.

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  52. jmb275 on January 19, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Re MH-

    JMB didn’t think it was ad hominem, yet JMB agreed in 28 that “there is a communication gap on the part of most libertarians.” I said the same thing to both of you, yet you were defensive and jmb was not. Seriously, you’ve got a communication problem. At least jmb isn’t defensive about it.

    To be fair, the communication problem is two fold. It’s the same reason why evangelicals have the same set of problems with Mormons despite our best attempts at clarification. One part of the problem is that we’re not communicating clearly. The other part is a reluctance on the part of the listener to try and actually see someone else’s point of view.

    The reality is, way too many people are afraid to try and really see someone else’s viewpoint because it might create discomfort, or cause them to change their mind. And that feels scary to many people. Nevertheless, as someone leaning libertarian, and having been on email lists for libertarian newsletters, libertarians do tend to sensationalize, wax idealistic, and present untenable solutions couched in fiery language that demonizes the other side. In other words, they play politics as usual! (incidentally, this is why I think I’m a pretty moderate libertarian. I’m not down with the way they spread their message).

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  53. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Bob,

    I don’t know what you are talking about.

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  54. Andrew S on January 19, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    jmb,

    I think this is a really fundamental difference as Andrew has pointed out. See, to me, when you say “the system” what are you talking about? To me, this is a social problem. Women and minorities have fewer opportunities, through no fault of their own, I agree. But this is a problem with people, and attempts to make it right intrinsically are the incarnation of the very problem they propose to solve. So you seek to curb racial discrimination by implementing a racially discriminating policy. People have to change here, there has to be social change.

    “The system” is social. Basically, it is the collection of institutions (whether formal, like governments, schools, companies, churches, whatever) and informal (families, friends, etc.,) and their various perspectives that perpetuate and create biases, privileges, advantages, and disadvantages based on perception of certain characteristics.

    You say:

    So you seek to curb racial discrimination by implementing a racially discriminating policy. People have to change here, there has to be social change.

    But here’s the question: how do you create the social change? The empirical data is that it’s through exposure. E.g., when people personally know gay people in their informal and formal environments, they (collectively, generally, statistically) become more supportive of those people.

    But how do you get exposure? At the beginning, you have to implement policies across the board to counteract the disadvantages and limits placed on various groups. In other words, since people on their own would never, for example, advance women beyond a certain point in company management, we need to create systems that encourage and incentivize the mentoring, coaching, and advancing of women employees. As more and more women enter higher positions, then the collective workplace becomes more exposed to the fact that, hey, women are just as capable at management and leadership as men are.

    That makes it easier for people to accept socially that there shouldn’t be any difference between men and women in the treatment thereof in the workplace or elsewhere.

    You say: “you seek to curb racial discrimination by implementing a racially discriminatory policy.” But here’s the deal: discrimination per se isn’t bad. We discriminate all the time (e.g., you [propose we discriminate based on “merit”). But the question is: what kinds of discrimination are justified in achieving our various social, economic, etc., goals? We recognize overwhelmingly that for a heavy labor job, it’s worthwhile to discriminate based on who can lift heavy equipment, etc., If that happens to discriminate against some women, it still works because of the work-related reason that would pass close scrutiny in court cases.

    When we talk about discrimination against minorities, the issue is that we don’t have a compelling reason to discriminate against minorities — but socially, we do it anyway (because social discrimination like racism/sexism/etc., tend to begin because of social, rather than economic, reasons to begin with). But to correct the injustices against minorities, we do have a compelling governmental reason to discriminate in this case. It’s to reduce the equitable starting imbalances beteen groups.

    Once again, you have to see this in terms of the slice of pie. If you’ve been given a larger slice of pie than you “deserve”, then for society to take the excess away from you is not a valid harm against you. It’s because you never truly should’ve gotten that extra pie to begin with and we’re just righting the wrong.

    The issue is we can’t reverse this problem otherwise. We can’t pretend to be blind to race, sex NOW BECAUSE we each have our social biases embedded in our cultural consciousness…that’s why most people don’t *consider* themselves racist/sexist/whatever, but may often state or do racially/sexually insensitive things.

    It’s not obvious to me that attempting to equalize opportunities via laws and policies helps create that change. I suppose I draw a fairly clear line between the role of gov’t and the role of religion. I view it as the job of religion, the MLKJs of the world, etc. to preach to people and encourage us to play nice (a la the golden rule). That’s what creates change, people like MLKJ, not desegregation laws. It’s the job of the gov’t to be fair, to treat every citizen the same. It’s NOT the gov’t’s job in my view to ensure equality of opportunity. And when it does it violates its own creed!

    Pardon my french, but MLKJr didn’t do jack shit except for create the onus for the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King only caused Congress to act to create legally binding policies. Without the legally binding policies, nothing would’ve happened.

    Without Brown v. Board of Education, nothing would’ve happened.

    You need executive actions, court cases, and laws, to get stuff done.

    This is something I feel incredibly strongly about. We just have too much precedence of this for someone to be ignorant about this. Preaching to people is worthless, except for encouraging people to force government action. I really am upset that you would be naive enough to think otherwise.

    There is NO way to have equality of opportunity if we don’t correct for the fact that we don’t currently consider people equally.

    I’ll address the rest later…I have work.

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  55. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I think when all is said and done, regulations are in place to protect one group from the next. And why do they need protecting? Because one group wants to take advantage of the other. Not always unfair advantage, but advantage. So a regulation is put in place to theoretically level the playing field or prevent actions which are unfair.

    In the end, if everyone was honest and fair, the only regulation you’d need is the golden rule.

    Even the scriptures are full of regulation simple because the “natural man is an enemy to God…” and to other people, for that matter.

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  56. Glass Ceiling on January 19, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    It seems to me that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If we value law at all,we aught to value regulation.

    I’m just wondering why no one is discussing the gorillas in the room: NDAA and SOPA.

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  57. Glass Ceiling on January 19, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    IOW, we seem to have suddenly lost our ability to regulate the regulators.

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  58. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Jeff,

    Examples of these regulations in the scriptures?

    GC,

    That’s the fallacy of false choices, you don’t need to like regulations in order to like law.

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  59. Bob on January 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    @jmb275,
    What you kept leaving out is BECAUSE of how we work our system, we are the richest nation in the world.
    All great nations in the world today, have Welfare systems. Even the Mormon Church has a Welfare system.
    I have a nice mortgage deduction and government checks being mailed to me,a nd I don’t consider them “evil” or “lazy” payments.

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  60. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    “Examples of these regulations in the scriptures?”

    thou shall not Kill
    thou shall not Steal
    thou shall not covet

    to name a few…..

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  61. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Jeff,

    Those aren’t regulations. Those are laws.

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  62. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Jon, Regulations are nothing but laws that require or prohibit certain behavior?

    How is that different? Or what did you read that told you it is different?

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  63. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Jeff,

    Common examples of regulation include controls on market entries, prices, wages, Development approvals, pollution effects, employment for certain people in certain industries, standards of production for certain goods, the military forces and services. The economics of imposing or removing regulations relating to markets is analysed in regulatory economics.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation

    Notice how they all apply to certain industries or people and not to all people and industries? Laws apply to everyone equally. So thou shalt not kill is a law that applies to everyone equally, some people aren’t given exemptions (of course, under the US laws they make regulations that make a certain class immune to this law).

    Maybe that’s what all the posts should have started out with, an actual definition of regulation so we would be all on the same page instead of talking past one another.

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  64. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Jon,

    “Laws apply to everyone equally”

    Where do you get this idea?

    Laws in Michigan generally do not apply to me because I live in Colorado. Laws governing the oil and gas industry do not apply to me because I am not in that business.
    Laws covering Doctors and the medical profession do not apply to me bacause I am not in that profession.

    Laws apply to particular groups in many aspects and some laws and regulations apply to all of us.

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  65. jmb275 on January 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Andrew
    Dang, I’m really sorry to have set you off here. Perhaps I don’t know enough about it as I should. I feel you are imputing viewpoints to me that I just don’t have. I have probably communicated my views poorly.

    I’ll bow out of the conversation now before I upset anyone else.

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  66. Andrew S on January 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    jmb (rest of comment),

    I suppose I draw a fairly clear line between the role of gov’t and the role of religion. I view it as the job of religion, the MLKJs of the world, etc. to preach to people and encourage us to play nice (a la the golden rule). That’s what creates change, people like MLKJ, not desegregation laws. It’s the job of the gov’t to be fair, to treat every citizen the same. It’s NOT the gov’t’s job in my view to ensure equality of opportunity. And when it does it violates its own creed!

    I’m going to readdress this comment now that I’ve cooled off a bit.

    You know what happened when MLK did what he did? Well meaning civil white people said, “You shouldn’t be so radical, you should stay within the lines, blah blah blah.” Yeah, they thought MLK was *too radical*.

    It’s interesting to note that people only really started listening to MLK when Malcolm X came to the scene, because then MLK was the preferred option to listen to in contrast to Malcolm X.

    But whoever you prefer to talk about from an individual perspective, things only REALLY started changing when the government got involved. Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Brown v Board of Education and the *governmentally enforced* desegregation of Little Rock Central High a decade earlier.

    All of the voluntary actions conducted by various groups was useful only so far as it encouraged government policy changes.

    This is a HUGE deal.

    If you’re going to quote Martin Luther King, then you better quote Why We Can’t Wait as well:

    Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic.

    You have to recognize that MLK ALSO said: “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”

    These points are essential.

    If you still believe that it’s not the government’s job to ensure equality of opportunity/equitable justice, then that says something about you that you may or may not be ok with. Just don’t be upset when people point out that you are implicitly supporting racist/sexist/classist systems because you are opposed to efforts to dismantle and deconstruct the way these oppressions are embedded in society currently.

    I think you think I don’t understand this. I do. I get it. I get that it’s not just, that it’s not fair. Guess what, it’s not fair to everyone! Everyone has a social injustice to bitch about, even rich kids. But I think we have to have a starting point. I think it’s ludicrous to try and compensate for every social, economic, racial, or gender loss of opportunity.

    Depending on where you wnat to go with this, you are either being incredibly trivial with this, or incredibly naive.

    Based on your statement that “even rich kids…ha[ve] a social injustice to bitch about,” I’m going to guess that you take the naive approach. I don’t mean anything personally by this…I just think that a lot of people don’t really understand oppressions that they do not personally experience.

    I would say that one thing is true: we have a net or web of social privilege and oppression…this is what I will get to later on in responding to your comment…it’s researched under the idea of “intersectionality.”

    HOWEVER, many times, people want to list certain “oppressions” that are hollow. For example, sometimes men want to say that that “women” have the “privilege” of avoiding being drafted or of having benefits like getting into bars for free (e.g., Ladies’ Nights.) But these privileges are either hollow and/or they actually point to the overriding privileges for the other parties in the system.

    For example, Ladies’ Night not only is a hollow privilege (contrasted to male privilege in the corporate world, in various churches, etc.,), BUT it ALSO highlights male privilege: ladies’ night only exists because women are sexually objectified by men and so it’s valuable for bars who normally have primarily male clientele to attract women.

    Or, let’s take something like “women’s immunity from the draft.” Let’s just assume that this is not a hollow privilege…but that it does confer a bonus to women. EVEN IF THIS IS THE CASE, it still serves as a net oppression to women because people use it disproportionately as a mask against other forms of oppression. In other words, people say, “well, women are immune from the draft, so therefore women have advantages and disadvantages and net out ok in society.”

    But this isn’t correct. One limited range privilege cannot wipe out every other oppression.

    This is the same reason it’s problematic to say, “Well, Barack Obama is president, so this is evidence that black people in general are not discriminated against in society.” Barack Obama has a set of privileges (not relating to his race, usually) and these privileges do not override racial oppressions that exist for many people who may have different sets of privileges and oppressions. This gets into what I want to talk about in the next section.

    But first, to address the last part I’ve quoted in this section…you’re basically saying, “Human beings are pretty shitty, with a whole bunch of biases and stereotypes, so we should just give up on trying to account for our shittiness.” I fundamentally disagree with this perspective. Just because humans have a LOT of problems doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to address these problems. It can be an iterative, slow, fraught process, but I feel any good moral code justifies us to do this. If your moral code doesn’t, then I probably feel just a little worse about you, but I’ll get over it.

    As usual, where do we start? Are rich black kids given the same “opportunity” because they’re black, or do we figure they’re privileged because they’re rich? And what about the poor white kid? What about the social stigma that surrounds a black female doctor? Do you know how many people (non-white people too) have told me they would never go see a black female doctor because they have no idea how competent she is? We create racial and class warfare by trying to equalize opportunity based on those indicators!

    This gets to what I was saying about intersectionality. What intersectionality means, in a nutshell, is that you can have different privileges and different oppressions, and sometimes they don’t net neutral. Sometimes, the privileges and oppressions don’t equal each other (if we could somehow quantify them), while other times, they don’t apply in the same situations in the same situations (so you may have a privilege in x…but since you deal with y on a daily basis, your privilege means nothing and your oppression in y is what impacts you.)

    The major thing to remember about intersectionality is that you can’t ignore one aspect of a person when you’re addressing others. So we can’t SEPARATE the “richness” of a rich black person from his “blackness.” His richness is impacted by his blackness and his blackness vice versa. And these impacts may seem counterintuitive because things don’t “net” mathematically simply. We can say that a rich black kid is privileged with respect to socioeconomic status alone, and oppressed with respect to race alone, but in real world situations, we don’t live with SES alone or race alone in too many situations. That’s why when we say, “it’s bad that we have affirmative action for race, because it primarily addresses rich black kids and instead we should have financial aid by SES and ignore race,” we are making a flawed analysis according to intersectional theory. We are ASSUMING that everything can be reduced to one trait (socioeconomic status) and that therefore, if someone is rich, they can buy their way out of any other problem. But this isn’t necessarily true.

    So you’re right that trying to address these different factors is very DIFFICULT, and you can get into trouble pretty easily. Feminists learned that way early on: because many early feminists were well-to-do, white women, they assumed in their writings that feminism could assume things that would only be true for well-to-do, white women. As a result, they ended up advocating solutions in some cases that would exploit those women who happened to be of lower SES or who were women of color…and as a result, there were splits (see, for example, the “womanist” movement…)

    In order to really make progress, we have to be far more humble than even we might have thought. Even while we become sensitive to our own oppressions, we have to become sensitive to our privileges that may make us blind to other oppressions.

    Once again, however, just because this process is difficult to navigate doesn’t mean we should give up. This seems to be a common theme for you: every time you think something is too complicated, you think we shouldn’t even try to address it. Or you think that addressing things in a flawed way would make things worse than the status quo.

    I challenge this. I think we can work in an iterative process. I think we have time, so we can afford to work on this over a slow process. BUT we have to be proactive, because left to our own devices, we aren’t going to change anything.

    Merit based opportunity is NOT completely fair, as you’ve pointed out precisely because of injustices from birth. But tell me, what is more fair? It seems to me, merit is without doubt the *most* fair way to judge a person. Isn’t that the point of MLKJ ideas? Living in a world where people are judged by the content of the character (which I believe naturally extends to what a person does) not the color of their skin?

    I would say this: you have no way to even begin to speak of merit. You can’t measure it. The reason you can’t measure it is because you have these tainted, unclean, dirty figures wherever you THINK you have captured merit. Why are they dirty? Why are they unclean? Why are they tainted? Because you haven’t eliminated all of these unrelated factors from the figure.

    Martin Luther King understood this. We can’t just people by the content of their character, because the “figure” that we think is the content of one’s character is a dirty figure…full with biases and assumptions and inaccuracies related to social oppressions regarding the color of one’s skin and the sex organs one has.

    We can’t get to content of one’s character until we scrub the data of the social impurities. Until we remove all of the social biases. And THAT needs to be CONSCIOUSLY addressed.

    I can’t really stress this hard enough in a way I know you would understand. A lot of this last post has used accounting concepts, but I imagine there MUST be similar ideas in engineering. You may want to go strictly by data and think data is the most important thing when you’re trying to make a decision in engineering, BUT you have to make sure that data is good. You have to verify the data. What if your measuring tools are out-of-whack? What if they aren’t up to spec? Then all the results are going to be off. If you’re dealing with bad data and you do nothing to correct or adjust it (or if you can’t even admit that there are systemic flaws in the data), then everything down the line is going to come out bad because of those embedded flaws.

    I’ll address more in another, another comment.

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  67. Jon on January 19, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Jeff,

    I’m talking about natural law or God’s law usually, but since we are split up in little sections those laws apply at that level to everyone equally at that level. This is called “rule of law”. When it doesn’t apply to everyone it is called “regulations”.

    Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law. It stands in contrast to the idea that the ruler is above the law, for example by divine right.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law

    Yes, it is lamentable that we grew up going to government schools so this wasn’t learned properly when we were young as the statist wish to hold us subjects to them and their bureaucrats.

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  68. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Jon,

    Let’s see if I understand what you are saying.

    So the commandment or God’s Law “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is really only a regulation because it can only apply to people who are married to a living spouse?

    Do I have that right?

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  69. Glass Ceiling on January 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    This discussion aptly portrays many of the simpleton, childish, and dangerous tennants of Libertarianism.

    The truth is, freedom without law is no freedom at all. Giving exception to the rich and powerful only lands us in the feudal Dark Ages.

    Libertarianism has a few attractive elements that I am for: States rights and drug legalization to name two. But letting compitition in the marketplace act as justice for jackasses ruining a national economy? Are you joking?

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  70. Glass Ceiling on January 19, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Or assuming that greed is not the natural handmaiden of the rich and powerful. Its all a bit nieve.

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  71. jmb275 on January 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Thank you very much for the discussion everyone, especially to Andrew. You’ve definitely given me a lot to think about and material to use as I reevaluate my views.

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  72. dba.brotherp on January 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I know I’m a late comer to the discussion but let me offer a regulator’s point of view. My job is to enforce American Federal government regulations for Long Term Care facilities (i.e. nursing homes).

    Many people don’t know this, but Long Term Care is highly regulated. The reason for the all this regulation is that back in the 70s and early 80s the conditions in nursing homes were horrible. So in 1987, Congress passed OBRA 1987 (42 CFR part 483) and as a result, conditions in nursing homes are a lot better. Sure, there are stupid regs and there are inconsistencies in enforcement but over all things have improved.

    People also need to remember that government regulations are the bare minimum standard. Often times, at least in healthcare, industry standards (best practices) are higher and much more restrictive than government regulations.

    That’s my two cents. :)

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  73. Jeff Spector on January 19, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    DBA.

    Even with the regulations, those facilities often do the bare minimum necessary to obey the law and maximize profits. Not always in the best interests of the patients, who are at their mercy.

    A good reason why medical care should be NON-PROFIT!

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  74. dba.brotherp on January 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Jeff,

    Some follow the “letter of the law”, others follow the “spirit of the law.” I bet you can guess which ones provide better care. :)

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  75. MH on January 19, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Jon, you said “people assume that just because there is no regulation that there would be no enforcement. Even in anarcho-capitalism (voluntarism) there would be enforcement.”

    Ok, so I asked what that means. Rather than throw bankers in jail, you proposed a novel solution to keep them out of jail–have the bankers quit foreclosing and refinance property to levels. Ok, I’m not sure I call that enforcement, but I’ll go along.

    Then, you blamed the problem on past presidents. Once again, I asked how you would hold past presidents accountable. You claimed not to know everything (ok–fair), and then sidetracked to war crimes.

    So Jon, you talk enforcement, but come up short on the details. That’s why I said in 31, “if you can’t explain enforcement in terms that make sense, you will not gain converts to anarchy.” I wasn’t trying to be mean–I’m trying to help you with your message. If you think anarchy is the way to go (and you know that I disagree with you), you’ve got to be able to answer a question of holding past presidents accountable. How do you do that? For the record, I don’t know either.

    So, “enforcement” is a nice idea. I’m for enforcement too, and frankly, your idea to encourage banks not to foreclose is a good one, but once again, you’re short on details on how to accomplish this. Your solution on “How to incentivize banks to not prefer foreclosure, easy, stop giving them money to foreclose houses.”

    This sounds like a really bad idea Jon. We didn’t give money to Lehman Brothers, and 2 days later, Ireland almost went bankrupt. Then Paulsen and Bernanke pumped tons of money into the other banks in the TARP bill to avoid Great Depression #2.

    Really, I wish bankers were honest and accountable–I do. But your solutions to these problems are not practical, and would have led to Great Depression #2.

    Make no mistake Jon, I am not a fan of anarchy. Your ideas of “love”, “honestly”, “enforcement” are nice buzz words, but you have no practical way to implement them. I do like your New Zealand solution, if we could get the bankers and government to go along. But short of that, your ideas are completely impractical. You’ve got to be able to answer these questions if you want to convert me (or anyone else) to anarchy.

    You like to complain that people do not understand anarchy. Jon, I have listened to you, read Mises (which I still think is crap), and frankly I have explained anarchy to a co-worker who thought it meant simply chaos. I understand it better than you think I do. But you have got a long way to persuade me (and most people) than anarchy is the way to go.

    I’d love to get rid of farm subsidies too. I think they’re crap. I’d love to get rid of regulations. I’d love to have honest bankers and Wall Streeters. But I live in a world where bankers aren’t honest and greed runs rampant sometimes, and I am not going to surrender to platitudes of honesty, enforcement, and love without a better roadmap for how to achieve that.

    Perhaps you could go on a mission to the bankers and convert them all to the idea of honesty. If you can get bankers to be honest, I’ll become an anarchist. Until then, I’ll support regulations that attempt to make things better.

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  76. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    MH,

    I’ll have to refine my view on regulation vs law in light of your argument. So this is how I’ll see the difference: “Regulations are usually laws within an industry or within several industries. Laws affect everyone in the jurisdiction.”

    I think you might get the nuance between regulations and laws. Sorry, if I were someone that was good at this they would probably be able to offer up a better explanation.

    Really it doesn’t make sense to me to have so many regulations when you can use the laws that are already on the books, instead of “erect[ing] a multitude of New Offices, and sen[ding] hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” Like, fraud, you can’t commit fraud without someone taking you to court for it. We don’t need more laws to say basically the same thing to the point where anyone can go to jail because none of us even know what the law is anymore.

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  77. MH on January 20, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    But I thought you were against sending people to jail because it takes away liberty. You didn’t want bankers going to jail. So are you changing your tune?

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  78. cowboy on January 20, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Jon:

    Your distinctions on regulation vs rule of law seem to be a bit lacking. How would SEC reporting be improved to apply to everyone?

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  79. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    MH, #75,

    In a stateless society there would be no presidents to hold accountable. :)

    Banks currently get paid from the government every time someone forecloses, therefore, they are incentivized to foreclose on homes rather than work with the current purchasers.

    To big to fail. Hmm. The companies get so big because of regulations and you propose more regulations?

    Well, I suppose you know by now that I am a poor advocate for voluntaryism. Well, I try my best, but other people are much more eloquent than I.

    Here’s an article by Stefan Molyneux (I’m not a big fan of his but he does have a way with words). He describes one scenario of how a stateless society could operate and most likely would in this day and age. There have been other societies that have lived in organized anarchy, like Iceland, the mountain people in Asia, and the Quakers in Pennsylvania (for a short period). So it is not impossible.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/molyneux1.html

    People once believed that it would be impossible to live without slaves, now we see it can be done. A book describes the discrepancies of the policy of aggression vs the policy of love and did a good job of it. It’s called “Healing Our World In an Age of Aggression”. This book is full of specific examples and stats, which I’m not a big fan of, I prefer the theory, but she does a good job of exposing what aggression does and how the alternative, love and gentle persuasion (of course, with the caveat that one can aggress against another as long as they weren’t the first to aggress, in a reasonable manner, of course) is not only the ideal but practical.

    Sorry, MH, I wish I was better with words and portraying ideas. If you are up for reading other sources then you might find people that have an easier time portraying their ideas.

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  80. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    #77, MH,

    What I was trying to say is, with all the regulations today anyone can go to jail because of them. I wasn’t advocating for jail. I do think that people, in certain circumstances, jail would be good, but much less than what we have today, maybe 1%, I don’t know, I just made that number up.

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  81. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Cowboy,

    I’m not familiar with the intricacies of the SEC rules.

    It would probably have something to do with letting companies go out of business and not letting them have special privileges from the government.

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  82. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    I would argue that the parable of the talents suggests that everyone is not governed equally by God’s laws. Additionally, D&C 82:3 seems to reinforce the idea that the laws do not equally apply:

    For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

    I think you often miss in your parallel driven market theology, how the atonement of Christ would play into the scenario. Yes, Mormon theology teaches personal accountability, but it also teaches about a free gift of salvation that is bestowed on all. If you are going to insist on the theological reference points, you can’t ommit the most fundamental theological imperative.

    As it applies to regulations and rule of law, rule of law says the law applies to everyone equally but not that there can’t be mercy. Also, I think this mercy would be applied to mentally challenged and so forth. But it would be the people’s decision to extend the mercy.

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  83. Douglas on January 20, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    The discussion of how much and for what purpose to regulate commerce could fill server upon server full of websites, folks. Laws, and regulations to administer same, apply to either individuals or groups of same (including, obviously, businesses, whether incorporated or not).
    In passing any law, two questions ought to be considered: is there, in fact, authority, under the applicable State and the US Constitutions, to make such a law? In practicality, an attitude of “to hell with the Constitution” has prevailed for decades in this country, so laws are passed, to be challenged ONLY if the parties sufficiently aggrieved by same have the resources to fight it in the courts. Naturally, the road to this fiscal and regulatory hell has been paved with good intentions. It’s not as if we’ve got Palpatine manipulating events in the halls of Congress, folks. As much as I’ve railed about “Con”-gress being the opposite of “Pro”-gress, most members of Congress aren’t idiots, and most at least start out their legislative careers with honest intent to do well.
    A good case study is the history of regulation of the airlines in the US. Though some states, like Texas, did have significant activity in intrastate airline regulation, it’s been fairly much a Federal function (since most airline activity crosses state lines). Of course it started out to promote safety…taking a trip in a Ford Trimotor in the 1920′s would be a “white-knuckle” ride by today’s standards. And there was a lot of work to do in getting a decent infrastructure to promote air travel, especially in the Depression. However, the situation went beyond that. Every member of congress who had a decent-sized city wanted the then-Civil Aeronautics Board (forerunner of the FAA) to ensure enough passenger service. Airlines themselves lobbied for market protection. Of course, the unions didn’t miss an opportunity and forced their way in (applying Davis-Bacon to airports served by FAA, which was all of them). The result was ever-spiraling cost of air travel, at a point when costs everywhere else in the world were falling due to newer and more efficient aircraft entering airline fleets. What finally shook things up was the energy crises of the mid-70′s wherein fuel prices tripled almost overnight. Even the Democrat President, Mr. “Malaise” himself, Jimmy Carter, and an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress, saw that the US airline industry was severely out of kilter and needed to be reformed. Hence the deregulation bill of 1978. Overall, it’s been good, because net air travel since then (passenger miles per capita) has almost quadrupled, even in the face of changing technology that lessens the need for business travel. Still, it’s not all been wine and roses…ask the families of the 110 dead from ValuJet 592 thanks to that erstwhile airline’s shoddy maintenance practices. OTOH, w/o deregulation the success of a Southwest Airlines would have been impossible. Ask folks that regularly fly to places like Oakland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, and Baltimore, to name just a few, about the “Southwest Effect” on airline ticket prices!
    I would say that self-regulation typically is the best. Realistically, the profit motive and short-term thinking can and often does short-circuit industry policing itself. There may be bad regulations and bad Government regulators, but let’s admit that they were often caused by businesses behaving badly themselves! Ultimately, the best solution lies with the customer, who can vote with his almighty dollar. While I may not always agree with those that want to invest according to elective behavior (e.g., is that company “green”, or do they support gay rights, or are they diverse, and so on…), I wholeheartedly support the right of folks to make consumer and/or investment decisions as they see fit. At least we live in an era where information (not all of it reliable, though), is but a few mouse clicks away. That is, more Consumer Reports, and less “Nader’s Raiders”.
    In the end,it’s less about economics, and more about freedom. The freedom to gain whatever knowledge and skills one can lay his hands on. The freedom to interact with whomsoever will engage in open commerce, to exchange products, services, and labor in honest competition and negotiation. The ability to proceed as one sees fit, provided that in doing so other’s rights, property, and persons are not harmed. And, finally, the most important, the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors and investment risks. Industry and innovation are stifled if the net result is to benefit those that didn’t work for it!

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  84. cowboy on January 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Jon:

    I think we have a different view of the way regulations actually function. There is of course a strong culture of political lobbying, which I am not in favor of. In fact, as a side note, I have been very active in the leadership of a professional organization that hired a full-time lobbyist, and I never felt he actually represented us – so I am opposed to lobbying for both practical and philosophical reasons. Still, on to my point, I don’t think regulations result in special privileges as often as you suggest. In some cases they create markets, such as in the case of securities regulation. The B2B maket is overwhelmed with all sorts of third-party compliance administrators, etc. Notwithstanding, none of this results in special privileges, though it can harm competition.

    The reason for my question about the Securities regulation is that I don’t know how you apply a standardization of Corporate financial reporting outside the Corporate environment. The same for EPA regulations. People have different needs than manufacturing firms, so how would you apply the “rule of law” across the board in an effective manner. I would agree that pollution credits seem to be an odd solution, but within I would think that businesses should be granted more tolerance than individuals, but even that should be monitored and checked.

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  85. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    cowboy,

    though it can harm competition.

    There, you nailed it on the head, that is the special privilege.

    This guy does a much better job than I could on explaining how you could get it all to work. Question, why should businesses be given special privileges while individuals don’t? Are not businesses made up of individuals and should constitute the same rights as individuals, but not given special privileges?

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/molyneux1.html

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  86. Cowboy on January 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Jon:

    You are now talking circles around yourself.

    “As it applies to regulations and rule of law, rule of law says the law applies to everyone equally but not that there can’t be mercy. Also, I think this mercy would be applied to mentally challenged and so forth. But it would be the people’s decision to extend the mercy.”

    Selectively issuing mercy automatically revokes any notion of universal rules of law! What the two scriptures I pointed out illustrate is that religious philosophy generally accepts that people of different circumstances cannot be judged by the same standards. Your arguments generally contain a reference to what you call “natural law” or “God’s law”, to draw parallels to how the current State should be run. Yet, using the plan of Salvation as your model, you allow that the supreme law-giver can issue laws and mercy, yet surprisingly in your economic parallel the mercy must come from individuals in the system, and not the systems law-giver?? Your analogies don’t compute.

    A final revealing point Jon, that you made was this:

    “This book is full of specific examples and stats, which I’m not a big fan of, I prefer the theory, but she does a good job of exposing what aggression does and how the alternative…”

    The links you have cited, which I think reference your preferred “theory” tend to speak just as you do. They are way over generalized and non-specific indictments that can only be swallowed by the gut, because they can’t be filtered by the mind. In short, you seem to misunderstand the hierarchy of “knowledge getting”. Theory is generally what we are left with when a natural or social/behavioral phenomenon can be modeled (often with mathmatics), but cannot be tested to satisfaction. The anticipation of any long held theory is an opportunity to be empirically validated to high threshold. This is not to say that theories are invaluable, but to say that empiricism should always be the end goal. We should only reject empiricism in favor of theory, if the tests or circumstances, or parameters, etc, of empirical observation do not reasonably match the conditions of the theory/implications of the theory we are trying to test. That however requires critical analysis against the test, or “statistics” in your argument. It is highly irrational however to outright reject statistical arguments of economic behavior if you can’t demonstrate reasonably why those statistics shouldn’t be trusted. This position does not bode well for your reasoning on these issues, notwithstanding your passionate interest.

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  87. MH on January 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    In a stateless society there would be no presidents to hold accountable.

    I know you made a smilie face there, but that’s a big point for me. You have no feasible plan to get from a statist society to a stateless society and your reference to slavery People once believed that it would be impossible to live without slaves, now we see it can be done.

    Let’s look at how that was accomplished: it took a Civil War and more lives were lost than any other war the U.S. has ever participated in. You are a strong anti-war critic Jon. To get from your statist society to your stateless society, it’s probably going to take a war. And then I fear that we will look like Somalia (the only “thriving” anarchy). Unfortunately, Somalia isn’t the stateless utopia your propose–they’re not honest–they are pirates, and they use violence to attack ships. Not exactly pro-love and anti-war are they?

    So Jon, until you can tell me how to implement the anarchic, peaceful city of Enoch, I just don’t think anarchy is the way to go. (Wasn’t Enoch a theocratic kingdom, not anarchy anyway? Don’t the scriptures say a theocratic kingdom is the best form of government?) You’ve got some major roadblocks to convince anyone that anarchy is actually viable. Frankly, it’s not viable at all. Are you willing to go to war for your stateless anarchic utopia? Because that’s what it took to get rid of slavery.

    Even if we look at the Quakers as a success–you admit that it is short-lived. It’s not viable in the long-term Jon.

    Give me regulations over anarchy any day. For all the problems we have here in the U.S., I wouldn’t choose to live in any other country. Do you disagree? Are you planning to move to Somalia any time soon?

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  88. Cowboy on January 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    “This guy does a much better job than I could on explaining how you could get it all to work. Question, why should businesses be given special privileges while individuals don’t?”

    You will need to be more specific than this in order to make any sense of your argument. Still, essentially his argument is not that it does work, but that communal anarchy “can” work, as demonstrated by some tribes in Iceland. Of course, I want a jury before someone lobbs my head off for an indiscrminate glare towards his wife! In seriousness though, how can you compare small underdeveloped civilizations to the scale of community had in the U.S.?? Here is the first question – why haven’t their systems surpassed ours in terms of progress, size, and longevity?

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  89. jmb275 on January 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Re Cowboy

    Theory is generally what we are left with when a natural or social/behavioral phenomenon can be modeled (often with mathmatics), but cannot be tested to satisfaction. The anticipation of any long held theory is an opportunity to be empirically validated to high threshold. This is not to say that theories are invaluable, but to say that empiricism should always be the end goal. We should only reject empiricism in favor of theory, if the tests or circumstances, or parameters, etc, of empirical observation do not reasonably match the conditions of the theory/implications of the theory we are trying to test.

    This was really good. Very well said. I think this is key.

    Re Jon
    Here’s the rub for me. I think anarchism, and to a lesser extent libertarianism (which is why I still have a bit of a hard time with that label being applied to me) is forced to cross the chasm between theory and reality as is any political philosophy. But anarchism makes almost no attempt to bridge that gap, and libertarianism makes a half-hearted attempt. While the tragedy of the commons is a great test of any political system, libertarianism really doesn’t solve that problem that well either. It too frequently is willing to trade short term gains for long term losses in exchange for liberty. But let’s be clear here, short term thinking is not always optimal especially in a world whose values and morals change. What seemed optimal yesterday (allowing industry to pollute the air for profit for example) seems anathema by today’s values. Unfortunately, most libertarians generally are not upfront about the costs of their theory (a place where every political philosophy could do better).

    In our communication we would do well to be clear on the costs. I am, generally, in favor of smaller gov’t and states rights with an emphasis on maximizing liberty. But we need to acknowledge where our theoretical rubber hits the road, and it may very well fail if we don’t augment our theory with some dirty practicalities.

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  90. jmb275 on January 20, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Re MH-

    Even if we look at the Quakers as a success–you admit that it is short-lived. It’s not viable in the long-term Jon.

    I personally think this is the best argument against anarchism – that it is of such a nature that it cannot exist on its own for longer than a very short period of time and in a very small community. And I think that’s because it cannot account for the externalities that are inevitable in an imperfect world. To me, I push against communalism in the same way I push against anarchism – neither has shown it can successfully take into account the realities of the world and human behavior on anything other than a small scale for a short period of time.

    For the record, this is why I was very unconvinced by MH’s post about communal families not long ago. Frankly, MH, I’ve always been a little baffled as to why you seem to view communalism more favorably than anarchism. Perhaps your Mormonism? Just curious.

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  91. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    mh, #87,

    A civil war was not needed. The US was the only the country to go to such violence to free the slaves (IMO it was because of the wickedness of the people that the war was caused, per the scriptures). There’s a good book on that topic called: “Greatest Emancipations: How the West Abolished Slavery
    by Jim Powell”.

    The Somalia comparison is worn out. You have to compare Somalia compared to other countries in the area, there as a study done that showed Somalia in certain aspects became better compared to when it had a dictator and other aspects it is about the same. Compared to surrounding similar nations, Somalia isn’t doing too bad. Yes, it’s not a utopia, but I never claimed voluntaryism is a utopia, I only claim that it is better than the system we are currently under.

    You guys talk about short lived because it can’t repel a nation attacking it that is like saying small countries can’t work because statists nations that are bigger can come in and overthrow them. A nation that practices voluntaryism can repel other nations, even larger nations to a certain extent. Look at the revolutionary war, not exactly a strong state and many of the monies to pay for it were paid, in part, through voluntary contributions of time, labor and money. You saying that we couldn’t have one the revolutionary war because of this?

    There does come a time when it is time to leave, just like the Jews, it was good to leave before Hitler got out of hand (what that was a statist society and people died because they stayed there???). The US is riding on the coattails of a previous, more free society, yes, there are some freedoms that we enjoy more now than we did before, but, if you look at the economic freedom index, even New Zealand is higher than us now.

    When will it be time to pack or fight for our freedoms? I don’t know. I would prefer not to fight. Here is my plan for freedom:

    My 5 things that lead to a free society from a tyrannical one are:

    1. Learn what freedom and liberty are (AKA, come to Christ).

    2. Influence those around us and teach what they are (AKA, teach of Christ – teaching of Christ doesn’t always have to entail purely teaching the standard ideas, but everything that is good is of Him, therefore, even if you aren’t mentioning His name doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t teaching about Him and His gospel).

    3. Opting out of the system that holds us bound. (Not participating, as much as prudent or possible, in things that are antithetical to freedom. Which would be left to the individual to decide, since we all have different challenges/desires.)

    4. Civil disobedience. (An extreme case of this would be the American Revolutionary war, which I don’t think we need to do, I think there are more peaceful ways to go about it.)

    5. Leave. (If things are truly so bad then it’s time to leave, like the people in the BoM that left their captors, or Alma when he left his Judgment seat to found a peaceful society).

    Just read MLK Jr letter while he was in Burmingham Jail. (or listen to it: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/631-podcast-101-letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/ )

    There are ways to achieve freedom without extreme violence, like the women’s movement, etc.

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  92. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Cowboy,

    Here is the first question – why haven’t their systems surpassed ours in terms of progress, size, and longevity?

    Why didn’t republics and democracies last too long before the US came around? People were fearful that the US constitutional system wouldn’t work out before it happened, they tried it, and it seems to work to a certain extent, granted, just like any society, it relies on the righteousness of the people and we see now days how the righteousness is going to the wayside and each year the government becomes more and more dictatorial in nature.

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  93. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    jmb,

    Who says that voluntaryism doesn’t look at the longterm also? There are many occurrences that have shown that voluntaryism would look more to the future than other systems do (like our current system).

    There was a gentleman that grew a hardwood forest for harvesting, he let the old trees grow to be cut down later and had a good system going, but then the regulations came that said he couldn’t cut down his trees because there were birds there that were on a special list. He then decided to cut down his trees so there wouldn’t be any old growth to keep the regulators at bay, he was helping the bird but the regulators forced his hand to not help them anymore. Then the other woodsman decided to cut more of their forests too in order to keep the regulators at bay. This event came from the book, “Healing Our World In an Age of Aggression”, of course, it was better stated than I did here.

    Remember also, that pollution was more of a problem when this country wasn’t well off enough to care about it, as we grew richer we cared more about it and stopped the pollution. Same for children workers, as we become wealthier we could afford not to have our children work, it was government that came in after the fact.

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  94. MH on January 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Jon, I’ll bow out of the conversation now. I will remind you that you need many more specifics if you are going to gain converts. Your platitudes sound nice, but as jmb said, it will never work in the long term.

    JMB, I view the communalism experiments by the early church as intensely interesting. I am impressed with the attempts, and the desire of the members to make it work. On the other hand, I would have a very hard time living in such societies, and I can see why they didn’t work out. These experiments were never anarchic experiments, they were theocracies with authoritarian rule (especially during Brigham Young.) For that reason, they should never be confused with anarchy. They weren’t completely voluntary–when they became voluntary, they failed. Some places were successful for a time, but as with the Quakers, they aren’t viable long-term.

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  95. jmb275 on January 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Re Jon

    Who says that voluntaryism doesn’t look at the longterm also?

    No one, and that’s part of the issue. Voluntaryism says we shouldn’t tell someone what to do with themselves or their property. That means they may think long term, or they may do what most people do which is meet immediate needs and embrace the shortest perceived path to wealth. That may mean that in your example, that gentleman could have burned the forest to the ground and sold a valuable mineral in the ground, even if the trees were the last giant sequoias and became necessary to cure cancer 50 years down the road. And the only response you can give is some platitude like “well that would be a stupid property owner.” But guess what? People are stupid sometimes. You cannot predict what society will value in the future, and often times the shortest path to profits is so short sighted that we may pay the cost by destroying something valuable. That happens ANYWAY in our system to be sure, but perhaps to a lesser extent in a democracy.

    Maybe for someone’s house this is all fine, but in voluntaryism all property is privately owned. And what about “property” that cannot be subdivided, like air, or the ocean? Even Boaz (libertarian thinker, not from the Bible) suggests the ocean should not be privately owned. I know the answer, it has to do with using courts, insurance, etc. to seek damages. I’m not sure that’s preferable to our current situation.

    And frankly, this is part of the problem with your answers. In regular anarchism/voluntaryism/libertarianism fashion you don’t admit the costs. Every political system has a cost, but if you’re trying to gain followers, it’s only fair to alert them to the costs so they can make up their own minds. Part of the costs of liberty is that people are gonna die from having no healthcare, from hospitals not admitting them, from starvation, from violence, etc. Those things happen ANYWAY as in all other (real) cases, but maybe we mitigate some of those in clever ways through rules, laws, and regulation.

    There are many occurrences that have shown that voluntaryism would look more to the future than other systems do (like our current system).

    Perhaps so. I’d like to see them, with something besides articles from Mises.org. Sometimes Mises.org has okay stuff, but sometimes it’s shortsighted and lacking nuance and practicalities.

    BTW, you know, it’s weird. In my circle of libertarian friends, I’m the least libertarian of the group. Among my friends and online associates I’m often the most libertarian of the group. I think I should surrender the label “libertarian” and go with “independent.”

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  96. jmb275 on January 20, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Re MH
    Thanks for the explanation.

    These experiments were never anarchic experiments, they were theocracies with authoritarian rule (especially during Brigham Young.) For that reason, they should never be confused with anarchy.

    Yes, I understand that. To be clear, I’m saying I view the two in the same light, just at opposite ends of the spectrum. They’re theoretically palatable, and practically unrealizable philosophies. It’s just that the theory and reasons for unrealizability are different.

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  97. Jon on January 20, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    jmb,

    That’s the thing, people are stupid sometimes. When you have the government making policy for everyone then everyone pays for the stupidity, with voluntaryism when someone does something stupid only a few people pay. E.g., if you are the last person with a specific type of forest don’t you think they would want to capitalize on it?

    People currently find the current court system bad enough that they refuse to use it (especially the wealthy, you could say the wealthier you are the more you live in anarchy, since the more you can opt out).

    As for the oceans, let me quote from the book that has made me decide that voluntaryism is ideal and practical (although, as I’ve stated before, I would be OK with minarchy – which is to say, live under a strict constitutional government).

    Aggression harms marine life just as it harms animal life. In waters where homesteading of ocean plots or ocean fish is honored, fish thrive. Other areas, however, are over-fished and marine life is threatened.
    For example, in some states, homesteading of oyster beds is permitted. Private oyster beds are more prolific and profitable than public ones. The owners, who profit when the oysters thrive, have incentive to invest money in caring for the beds and harvesting them sustainably.
    …However, when ocean fisheries are even partially privatized, depleted fish stocks have recovered in Alaska, Austrailia, British Columbia, Greenland, Iceland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
    —–
    Not only do such arrangements prevent overfishing, they also encourage research to enhance fish stocks.
    …Many fish thrive around artificial reefs, which are relatively inexpensive to construct and sink. Only Japan recognizes the ownership by those who construct such reefs.
    Research suggests that the ocean can be fertilized to increase phytoplankton….[which could produce] about 1,000 tons of catchable fish each year….However, people won’t undertake the cost of ocean fertilization unless they are allowed to own the ocean plot or the fish it contains
    —-
    …Of course, if a tanker leaked oil that contaminated a claimed fishery, the oil company would have to compensate fish owners for any damage to their stocks. Just as fishing rights in Britain are enforced by their owners, ocean fisheries would be fiercely protected by those who owned and profited from them.

    Yes, you seem to be backing off of the libertarian idea, but I would consider you maybe a big government libertarian, like those from Cato. (Granted I didn’t read most of your comments on this post with Andrew, it looked like it would be interesting to read, I just didn’t have the time to look at them, granted I don’t have time to do this either :| .

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  98. Justin on January 20, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Even being an anarchist — I like MH’s #87:

    You have no feasible plan to get from a statist society to a stateless society

    We’ve come quite a ways into the current order of things [as a species] that I think it’s fair to say that it would do more harm than good to just pull the rug out from under everyone.

    We live in large bodies of predominately unrelated people who are not accustomed to governing themselves — so I think we’d see our human tribal instincts re-emerge and our neighbors [and ourselves] starting to kill anyone who comes within a mile of our family and the family’s property should someone just come in and collapse civilization in one night.

    And that’s exactly what’s going to happen per the revelations in the word of God. I look ahead and see a future in which nations come to a “full end” and everyone separates “one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends.”

    Many of these tribal societies will form suddenly, with little to no pre-planning or forethought, such that many of the rapidly formed future tribes will have great variety, and all based on the philosophies of men and not on the gospel.

    Now, I would be so bold as to declare that the scriptural ideal for a gospel-based tribe of righteousness would be an egalitarian, multihusband-multiwife tribal anarchy. This form satisfies every facet of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    So, my “feasible plan” is to establish this kind of tribe now, even while we are all currently living within a fully-functioning state society.

    I would say that it’s best for people to form righteous tribal societies now [among themselves], before the coming collapse of nations, so that when the state-societies do collapse, there will be no need to join the wicked tribes that will be forming.

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  99. Justin on January 20, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    Oh yeah — and:

    Wasn’t Enoch a theocratic kingdom, not anarchy anyway? Don’t the scriptures say a theocratic kingdom is the best form of government?

    If I had to name it anything — I’d have called it a family.

    The passion for a restoration of those historical “Zion” communities — where there are no rich and no poor, where all impart of their substance freely with one another, having no contentions, and having all things common [not “in common”] was behind a lot of what Joseph Smith was doing while he was alive:

    Trying to get a united order of unrelated believers in Christ bound together by covenant into a whole new people-group. A tribal community bound by covenant, in an effort to get away from the traditional order of a “church” of unrelated believers in this-or-that set of creeds.

    Zion requires great intimacy and connection among the members. We currently lack this intimacy and connection because we are all still strangers. The only way to achieve Zion, or even a Zion-like atmosphere, is for people to all be connected to each other through covenants.

    The level of intimacy and connection required to have that kind of community where what’s mine is yours [and yours, mine], where we all deal with each other based on the principle of charity, having no contention, imparting of our substance freely one with another, etc. — is something only arising out of kinship [or family-bonds].

    For example, my entire paycheck goes into one bank account that my wife is free to spend on whatever she feels will satisfy her needs and the needs of our children. Her and I already share all things common, I impart of my substance [and my time, my attention, my affection, etc.] freely with her and our children, etc.

    In other words, “The family is the basic unit of the kingdom of God on the earth and the most important social unit in time and eternity…

    meaning, living in such a Zion-like community starts the moment a man marries a woman. The two are gathered in Christ’s name, there He will be in the midst of them –- and the twain shall be one flesh.

    This connectivity is the key. However, if such a community starts with the basic-unit of a man marrying a woman – then how can we expect to grow the community on any different sets of principles [other than men and women marrying]?

    As long as we remain unfettered by covenant relationships with each other, we will never achieve Zion and our words and deeds at church will never approach the level of intimacy and sharing required of that ideal.

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  100. MH on January 20, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Justin, good to see you again. You’re definitely the best spokesman for anarchism, but I think it’s like selling ice to an eskimo–incredibly difficult.

    Regarding the comment To big to fail. Hmm. The companies get so big because of regulations and you propose more regulations?

    I said no such thing, so let me clarify that one point. “Too big to fail” was the result of DEREGULATION, not regulation. President Clinton signed the law scuttling the bill from the Depression designed to prevent “too big to fail.” Now, less than a decade after this deregulation, we’re “too big to fail” and practically in a depression again. Yes, regulations prevented this type of disaster for 60 years, but apparently we’re too stupid to learn from the Great Depression. Put the regulation back in place, and we hopefully will avoid this calamity. Yet Bank of America still owns an investment company…..

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  101. Cowboy on January 20, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    “granted, just like any society, it relies on the righteousness of the people and we see now days how the righteousness is going to the wayside and each year the government becomes more and more dictatorial in nature.”

    Jon:

    Again, if you are going to employ religious arguments to make a case about economic systems, then you can’t selectively sift your theology. Mormonism is a apocolyptic religion that believes and teaches that the world is progressing in wickedness, preparing us for the final confrontation of good and evil prior to, and after the Second Coming. You argue that your system can only function on righteousness. In essence, you are advocating a social Utopia, which most of agree would be nice, and could work…with the right people. However, we don’t get to pick and choose our people. In fact, as I have noted, a premise of your religion is that we won’t have a completely righteous society. In fact, Jesus speaks of the end days, latter-days even, as a time of purging. The example of the wheat and the chaff, the parable of the talents, the ten virgins, the sheep and the goats, etc, are all scriptural allegories suggesting that society at large will drift into two groups. The righteous and the wicked. Until, wheat becomes ripe however, those two elements are intertwined.

    Given that your religious and scriptural precedent already rejects the premise your argument depends on, how can you advocate a social infrastructure such as”voluntaryism”? It seems you have rejected your own argument. Dropping the religious implications, I think observation suggests that ultimately you are still right about how untennable your system would be in our society. We do not have a society that appears willing to cooperate at the levels necessary for your Utopia. It would seem that your arguments would be more descriptive of how expect the Millenial Church to function, and are trying to juxtapose the two worlds.

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  102. FireTag on January 20, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    There was an interesting poll by Gallup this week that relates to the regularly recurring debates we have over government vs. business.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/152096/Americans-Anti-Big-Business-Big-Gov.aspx

    To summarize it, Gallup asks a question annually about the approval/disapproval of government and business. The trend has been steadily downward for BOTH types of institution, with very large net disapproval now recorded for both government and business.

    The breakdown according to self-identified Dems, Reps, and Inds is equally interesting. Within the margin of error, Dems approve and disapprove of government equally, but strongly disapprove of business. As a mirror image, Reps approve and disapprove of business equally, but strongly disapprove of government. Independents uniformly strongly disapprove of business AND government.

    I think this is reflective of a society where the common people are feeling abused by elites, and are not going to remain in the paradigm of arguing about which elite is worse forever. If Libertarianism can find credible spokesmen and positive strategies that can not be effectively portrayed as favoring either business or government at the expense of the other, they might just be the wave of the future.

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  103. Douglas on January 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    #100 – “Too BIG to FAIL” is not a RESULT of regulation OR deregulation. It’s a result of collective political cowardice, and the affected parties, instead of taking their lumps in the marketplace, appealing to the politicians to bail their sorry heinies from financial loss (or ruin).
    I postulate…what IF the then BUSH Administration, along with the Democrat-controlled Congress (including the then junior Senator from Illinois), had declined to bail out Chrysler? No more Mopar? Hardly! Even as badly managed as Walter P.’s and the Dodge Brothers legacy had become (and it’d also swallowed up George Romney’s pet project some two decades prior), had Chrysler Corporation defaulted on its loans, either they would have been restructured (they were anyway), OR a “White Knight”, likely foreign capital, would have stepped in. Well, hello dear, and who owns Chrysler now but “Fix-it-again, Tony?”.
    Look, we could have, circa 1946, in the wake of post-WWII downsizing, have bemoaned the fate of the American aircraft industry. And then, you had in the passenger aircraft business: Boeing, Consolidated-Vultee (later Convair), Douglas, Lockheed, Martin, and Northrup – and that AFTER a wave of consolidations and shakeouts in the 1930′s. Now, some sixty-five years later…Boeing is the last “man” standing in the USA, going toe-to-toe with Airbus. Now, is the capitalization of the US passenger aircraft business more, or less, as a portion of the economy than in 1946? What if Congress had worried itself about the demise of the various aircraft firms as it became fairly much a two-way race until the 80′s? The point is, “too big to fail” is a MYTH. I couldn’t have imagined no “Monkey Wards”, but our retail needs are served just fine…in fact, here in Sacramento a rather unusual “Walley-World” occupies a former MW anchor spot (most of the old mall there was torn down and replaced by office space and a Sam’s Club). Besides turning a former dying retail corner (Watt and El Camino) into once again a bustling spot, it serves the shopping needs at competitive prices of a clientele that can be characterized as “ghetto”. Same with an all-new Walley World occupying land once belonging to the former Florin Mall (razed several years ago). It’s foolish to stand in the way of freely-chosen change according to market tastes and abilities.

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  104. FireTag on January 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Andrew:

    I was waiting for your “another comment”, but it looks like we both got involved in writing subsequent posts.

    I’d really like to go back to your earlier comment and explore more. You said:

    “I would say this: you have no way to even begin to speak of merit. You can’t measure it. The reason you can’t measure it is because you have these tainted, unclean, dirty figures wherever you THINK you have captured merit. Why are they dirty? Why are they unclean? Why are they tainted? Because you haven’t eliminated all of these unrelated factors from the figure.

    “Martin Luther King understood this. We can’t judge people by the content of their character, because the ‘figure’ that we think is the content of one’s character is a dirty figure…full with biases and assumptions and inaccuracies related to social oppressions regarding the color of one’s skin and the sex organs one has.

    “We can’t get to content of one’s character until we scrub the data of the social impurities. Until we remove all of the social biases. And THAT needs to be CONSCIOUSLY addressed.”

    It seems to me that there is a word in the last sentence above that should be emphasized because it makes a key difference in whether or not the argument is valid. The word is “ALL”.

    Even to use an “iterative” process to work toward elimination of oppression usually requires SOME idea or estimate of what the largest source of oppression is, and some idea of what the major effects are.

    But the particular “original sin” that scarred America began with slavery itself, and could not rise to the top of a late 20th Century agenda over oppression of reds, yellows, and browns (also a part of America’s past) except for the enslavement of blacks. It wasn’t skin color, per se, it was the enslavement of one color of skin.

    But that seems to imply the “equal” for the next iteration has to look at ALL the effects of slavery on everyone. And now we are looking at something that influenced settlement patterns over several continents.

    Indeed, you and I probably both owe our existence to the fact of those migrations.

    So, on what basis — by your own argument about the need to remove ALL the oppression-induced effects — do we “agree” what place American whites and blacks in the 21st Century should have BECAUSE of the injustices of previous years if the individuals wouldn’t even exist in the absence of slavery?

    I would think that those who saw their nations’economic development in Africa crippled by the institution of slavery could legitimately consider Americans of all races the beneficiaries of slavery. Or we might all have seen our development actually held back in America by slavery.

    Relative position is not absolute position, even if we focus on a single issue like slavery. Your treatment of intersectionality is not nearly broad enough to be meaningful.

    And I haven’t even got to the validity of transferring power to government — with the potential for a whole new set of oppressors who may only be pretending concern for equality — as a means of addressing the inequality we can’t even measure. :D

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  105. Andrew S. on January 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    FireTag,

    yeah, I was going to respond more, but then I saw a comment from jmb saying something to the effect of, “Whoa, I’m out of here.”

    But the particular “original sin” that scarred America began with slavery itself, and could not rise to the top of a late 20th Century agenda over oppression of reds, yellows, and browns (also a part of America’s past) except for the enslavement of blacks. It wasn’t skin color, per se, it was the enslavement of one color of skin.

    But that seems to imply the “equal” for the next iteration has to look at ALL the effects of slavery on everyone. And now we are looking at something that influenced settlement patterns over several continents.

    I don’t think this is really the case. After all, if you abolish the practice of slavery, you don’t eliminate the crucial biases that have led to most of the oppression in this country (not just for blacks, but for reds, yellows, browns, women, etc.,) So, I don’t think it was the enslavement of one color of skin.

    I think you’re trying to talk about something different. One thing is what phenomena would be most likely to drum up the most political support — maybe that is the enslavement based on skin color. But that (and the related aspects of the “iterative process” it relates to) is not a necessary condition of fighting oppression…it’s just how politically, we tend to go about doing things (because democratically, if you can’t show the big impact first, you’ll have less support politically against other interest groups.)

    So, on what basis — by your own argument about the need to remove ALL the oppression-induced effects — do we “agree” what place American whites and blacks in the 21st Century should have BECAUSE of the injustices of previous years if the individuals wouldn’t even exist in the absence of slavery?

    Actually, by my own argument, it’s not the need to remove all of the oppression-induced effects, but the need to remove the biases that continue to cause oppression. The two probably feed into one another, but in my mind, I see these as different.

    But the basis by which we should agree is still going to be a socially-determined basis. That’s why we may not get it “perfect” the first, second or hundredth time. The issue is if we want to believe stuff about America being a “land of opportunity” or a place of “equality of opportunity” or whatever, then these biases really get in the way of that. If we don’t want to state those things to begin with, then collectively we don’t have as much issue with not meeting these goals, but I would say that the persons being oppressed would still not go along with an oppressive status quo just because a community agrees in majority to idealize said oppression.

    I don’t think that the fact that the individuals wouldn’t even exist in the absence of slavery is all that relevant here: we are socially situated, thrown into very contingent situations. The fact that our situations are inevitably contingent does not erase the similar fact of their impact on us today. To put it in another way: the fact that the universe exists and human life developed is more important than the fact that under many other circumstances, the universe might not have even gotten started, or life may never have developed, or whatever. The fact that all of our problems are all contingent upon certain facts doesn’t change the fact of our problems.

    I would think that those who saw their nations’economic development in Africa crippled by the institution of slavery could legitimately consider Americans of all races the beneficiaries of slavery. Or we might all have seen our development actually held back in America by slavery.

    Relative position is not absolute position, even if we focus on a single issue like slavery. Your treatment of intersectionality is not nearly broad enough to be meaningful.

    I do think that you’re right to point out that here, I may be focused too small: on a nation-wide based approach instead of on an international perspective. However, this just goes to show that even I have biases (e.g., because I am privileged to have grown up in America, I have to admit I’m not a saint when it comes to thinking about international issues), which can still be factored into the iterative process by exposure to unrepresented groups (e.g., the international community at large.)

    Maybe I’m not understanding your point, but I don’t see why it matters that relative position is not absolute position.

    And I haven’t even got to the validity of transferring power to government — with the potential for a whole new set of oppressors who may only be pretending concern for equality — as a means of addressing the inequality we can’t even measure.

    That’s what the iterative process is all about. Whether it’s the fact that we have a new set of oppressors because they were blind to the new inequalities they perpetuated or because we have a new set of oppressors who were very conscious about the new inequalities they perpetuated, we simply take steps to fix it down the road.

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  106. Jon on January 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Cowboy, 101,

    What I meant to write is that the more righteous the people are the better it works. But righteousness is not requisite for it to work. Look at Somalia, it is doing just as well and even better in some aspects to its neighboring countries and it is living under anarchy.

    Look at the US, we are becoming more sinful and you can pretty much say we don’t live under a constitutional republic anymore since most bounds given by the constitution are regularly ignored or deemed “impractical”, even members of congress openly scoff at the idea of asking if a bill is constitutional or not.

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  107. Jon on January 22, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Justin, MH,

    I don’t advocate that it be changed overnight, like I said in my post on how to get there, first one must free the minds, AKA, people must take the red pill and like it. The more people that take the pill, the more things will change, and it will be a process. I think also, people need to stop putting their children in government propaganda camps, AKA, government schools. People don’t trust government to run their religion but do trust the government to mold their pliable young child’s minds for over 12 years, absolutely insane.

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  108. Jon on January 22, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    MH,

    Regulations have caused these banks and investment firms to merge more than they did before and now there are fewer of them and they are richer than ever because of the bailouts. Indeed, soak the poor and middle class. Corporate welfare at its finest, and they even have the progressives on their side, amazing!

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  109. FireTag on January 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Andrew:

    I do think it is valuable to be exposed to each other’s biases. And perhaps I’m misreading you because I’m connecting the issue of eliminating oppression to the larger topic of the post (government regulation) by reading too much into your comment in #66 (my emphasis added):

    “All of the voluntary actions conducted by various groups was useful only so far as it encouraged GOVERNMENT policy changes.”

    This sets up the classic (at least for this blog) split in our current American political debate, between one side which sees the government as the primary method of righting oppression by reducing the power of economic oppressors, and another side that sees government using that claim as a smokescreen to simply replace old oppressors with new ones.

    My comment was meant to point out the many logical steps that lie (IMO, uncrossed) between the observation that Caucasians and African Americans hold relatively different positions in American status and the conclusion that the current political class in Washington should be entrusted with greater power over ANYONE.

    Corporations have lawyers, but politicians have soldiers. Lawyers are only scary as long as the soldiers stand behind them (see Egypt, Libya, or Syria). Get the next iteration at trying to reduce oppression wrong, and it may be a long time before we realistically get another one.

    I guess you can tell from comment 102 that I’m of the majority of Americans who have strong negative opinions of big institutions in general.

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  110. cowboy on January 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Jon:

    The old adage that the captain goes down with ship is just a figure of speech. Forgetting the stupidity that caused the cruise ship to sink in the first place, the Captain really wasn’t expected to sink with the ship, he was just expected to oversee a proper evacuation of all the passengers and crew first. My point is, your ship is now empty, you can feel free to bail at anytime now, but please don’t sink with your ship.

    First your appeal to Somalia is a false dichotomy of about the worst kind. Even you dismissed the comparison earlier, so I’m not sure why your using it now?? Putting that aside, the Wikipedia entry states that Somalia is one of the most violent States in the region. MH pointed this out and you dismissed his point. Still, to say that Somalia is doing better than its neighbors ignores a whole host of political factors that are not relevant to where the U.S. is heading. Suffice it to say, even if we accept that Somalia is doing “better”, I’d still rather live in France rather than Somalia.

    Second, your comment to MH is contradictory. You draw parallel to the Matrix, “red pill”. It is pretty flattering to your position to think that the world is living in a false reality, while in fact that assertion itself is a false reality. Dropping the denigrating adjectives that people need to “wake up” or “come to their senses”, etc, implied in your argument, the “reality” is that what you mean is that people need to become “converts” to your anarchist way of thinking. That implicitly requires, benignly stated, “education”, and non-beningly stated, “indoctrination”. So you resent the “government” indoctrination because you would prefer to hold the reigns of indoctrination. In essence it’s not the presence of control that irks, but the fact that you are not the person who is in control.

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  111. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Cowboy,

    You did a very good job of misrepresenting all that I have written.

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  112. Mormon Heretic on January 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Jon, your comment 107 shows that you’re wacky. That may not be kind, but I whole-heartedly endorse Cowboy’s comment in 110.

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  113. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    You guys and disagree because your ears are closed and you refuse to see. Take it as you will. But when people become tired of your oppression, don’t blame them when they rise up against the oppressors.

    If you refuse to believe a fundamental teaching of Christ, that the means are just as important as the ends then it is your choice to reject His teachings. If you don’t want to accept His teachings into your life, that is your choice. But, as I said before, it is the true right of others to throw off the burden of their oppressors.

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  114. Mormon Heretic on January 23, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Ok Jon, so you’re supporting violence now. Good one, Mr. anti-war.

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  115. Justin on January 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Jon — though I typically agree with what you comment on the politics posts [I usually avoid discussions among statists myself] — I’ll say that I have found that nothing closes ears and shuts eyes better than telling people that their ears are closed and their eyes are shut.

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  116. cowboy on January 23, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Jon:

    I have cited on many occasions scriptures that suggest your religious juxtaposition of mortal governance and scripture are out of sync. You yourself have even admitted to struggle with the implications. You can’t advance Christ as your ambassador to represent your cause, if you want to consider yourself a Christian. Rather you should focus on learning his doctrine and becoming your best advocate for him. You have it backwards.

    I’ll leave my commentary at that.

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  117. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Justin,

    Yes, but when they start misrepresenting my beliefs and clearly take what I’ve written out of context, I admittedly get upset. It then becomes clear that their ears are closed and their eyes are shut. There isn’t much I can do to convince them that they should look to Christ instead of the arm of flesh for salvation. So even telling them that, it doesn’t matter because they don’t care neither do they try to understand. Christ pretty much said the same thing to the pharisees, did he not? There comes a point where there is nothing else one can say to help them at least understand, if not agree, but if they wish to not understand, which is clearly the case, then doesn’t that mean that their ears are deaf and their eyes are blind?

    So I suppose, I shouldn’t waste my time anymore. I suppose it is like throwing pearls before swine, they just won’t understand.

    But it is terribly frustrating to advocate peace and then get ad homimen attacks like “Ok Jon, so you’re supporting violence now. Good one, Mr. anti-war.” Which is clearly contrary to what I have stated.

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  118. jmb275 on January 23, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Alright alright, let’s play nice:
    Re MH-

    Ok Jon, so you’re supporting violence now. Good one, Mr. anti-war.

    Come on now MH. If you tell your child that they’ll end up in jail if they don’t obey the law, it’s hardly an endorsement for it. Jon is predicting what he believes is an inevitability.

    Re Jon-
    I see this as a major problems anarchists and libertarians have. They used charged language, and predictions that seem foreign to those who don’t share the same view.

    So I suppose, I shouldn’t waste my time anymore. I suppose it is like throwing pearls before swine, they just won’t understand.

    Here’s the thing though Jon, EVERYONE thinks they have the pearls!! Until you really believe that you might be able to learn from someone else’s “pearls” you’re really no better (or less hypocritical) than your critics. And this is the fundamental problem in our society (IMHO). We don’t believe that others might have it right. That’s why people blow up buildings in the name of God, it’s why Congress is at polar ends of the spectrum, etc. etc.

    In any case, this thread had a lot of good points. Thank you for everyone’s participation.

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  119. Justin on January 23, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I’d just say that one should always temper expectations when discussing a controversial subject in an online-format.

    I did not arrive at my deeply-held convictions [on things like anarchism, religion, etc.] by reading a couple hundred words here-and-there. They are the product of every experience I’ve had, every conversation I’ve engaged in [in person and online], and every other unique aspect pertaining to *Me*.

    So I don’t think we should expect to change anyone’s deeply-held beliefs in a couple comments on a blog.

    I just try to present my opinion here-and-there where I feel like it might apply — but I carry no expectation that someone’s going to read one of my comments and just have a Paul on the Damascus Road paradigm-shift.

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  120. Justin on January 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    I’m thinking of this chart too.

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  121. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    jmb,

    I agree. We all think we have the pearls. I try to keep an open and critical mind and I have changed my mind, I started out a standard conservative. I am still open to changing my mind. But all I ask is that others keep an open and critical mind also. But at the end of the debates we return to ad homimens, misrepresentations of my beliefs, etc.

    I suppose that is why I would be open to a constitutional very limited government. I don’t think it is principled (i.e., our current constitution) but I think it would work well enough, but the state always becomes larger and larger to the point where and said freedoms are but in words only. I think that is why the discussion should be taken to new levels.

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  122. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Justin,

    I agree, that I shouldn’t expect others to change their opinions but I do expect that others at least acknowledge the opinion I have and not misrepresent it. But apparently I shouldn’t expect that either, especially for the hard core statists. I don’t agree with all of your ideas, but I understand them and I don’t misrepresent them either.

    I’ll study out that chart, looks interesting. Thanks for posting it.

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  123. cowboy on January 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Jon:

    You could always point out the misrepresentation I made against your position. I think issue is that you really don’t like how I articulated your position. I am going to confidently suggest that I/we understand your position, we just don’t agree with it. That is what upsets you, so you call dibbs on Christ so that you can liken our disagreements with you to disagreements with Christ.

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  124. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Cowboy,

    I am not going to engage with you on this topic anymore. I have already shown what you what you have misrepresented.

    Maybe if we agreed to the rules in the chart that Justin provided, maybe then it would actually be worth while.

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  125. Mormon Heretic on January 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    You guys and disagree because your ears are closed and you refuse to see.

    Jon, perhaps you are the blind one here. Obviously you’re losing the argument and throwing a tantrum. Are you saying that nobody can legitimately disagree with you or they are obviously blind and deaf? My ears are open and my eyes are open. I gave you credit for the NZ solution, yet you tell me I’m blind and deaf. Well, perhaps you should give up if you keep getting your hat handed to you in these debates. Come back when you have arguments that make sense and you don’t have to throw a tantrum and call people who disagree with you blind, deaf, and dumb.

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  126. Jon on January 23, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    MH,

    I haven’t been “losing” the argument. I have conceded points. Remember who started the ad homimen attacks. Look at 110 and 112 it wasn’t until those posts that I started having a major problem. Cowboy lied about my positions and you started using illogical sophistry to “prove” me wrong. Yes, I say sophistry because it is the intentional misuse of logic.

    Now if you are interested in really debating the ideas, I’m up for that. But I do not tolerate misrepresentation of my ideas when they should be fairly clear by now, and if you don’t believe they are then you can ask, but it has become apparent that neither you nor Cowboy are interested in an understanding of ideas of freedom based on the non-aggression principle (AKA, the second greatest commandment).

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  127. cowboy on January 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    By all means Jon, show me how I have misrepresented you. If I have, I will apologize.

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  128. Jon on January 24, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    Cowboy see comment 124. Maybe we’ll engage in future posts, but I’m pretty much done with this one.

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  129. cowboy on January 24, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    No problem Jon, see comment 123. You have not shown how you have been misrepresented, so my assessment in 123 stands.

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  130. Jon on January 24, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Cowboy, you are starting to remind me of Dan, taking everything out of context and turning what a person said into lies, very well, I’ll show you how you have misrepresenting my ideas.

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  131. Jon on January 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Even you dismissed the comparison earlier, so I’m not sure why your using it now?

    My response (I never dismissed Somalia):

    The Somalia comparison is worn out. You have to compare Somalia compared to other countries in the area, there as a study done that showed Somalia in certain aspects became better compared to when it had a dictator and other aspects it is about the same. Compared to surrounding similar nations, Somalia isn’t doing too bad. Yes, it’s not a utopia, but I never claimed voluntaryism is a utopia, I only claim that it is better than the system we are currently under.

    To add to my point, the Western powers create much of the violence (like the US), so it is government that is getting in the way of more peace and prosperity:

    There are two main problems with this view. First, some have argued that the warlords fight so bitterly in Somalia precisely because meddling Westerners keep trying to impose a government. In other words, the various clans might have been willing to coexist relatively peacefully, knowing that there was a balance of power and that no one group posed much of a threat. But when the UN comes in with its money and weapons, and tries to elevate one group above the others, then the excluded Somali factions rush to attack.

    The other problem with this common justification for a state — namely, that rival groups will engage in civil war until one of them achieves obvious superiority over the others — is that it proves far too much. If a balance of power can’t exist among the small clans in Somalia, then how can it exist across, say, Europe, or for that matter the entire world? In other words, to be consistent, Farah and others calling for the establishment of a government in Somalia — in order to eliminate civil war — should also call for the establishment of a worldwide central government over the entire planet. Otherwise, various factions within the globe might fight each other (which of course they do all the time).

    See this article:
    http://mises.org/daily/5418
    See this paper:
    http://www.independent.org/publications/working_papers/article.asp?id=1861

    Suffice it to say, even if we accept that Somalia is doing “better”, I’d still rather live in France rather than Somalia.

    The fallacy of false choice. You would need to choose between a country similar to Somalia with a state. I’m sure you wouldn’t want either. I’ve stated this before in my comments, you can’t compare apples and oranges. It needs to be apples and apples.

    Second, your comment to MH is contradictory. You draw parallel to the Matrix, “red pill”. It is pretty flattering to your position to think that the world is living in a false reality, while in fact that assertion itself is a false reality. Dropping the denigrating adjectives that people need to “wake up” or “come to their senses”, etc, implied in your argument, the “reality” is that what you mean is that people need to become “converts” to your anarchist way of thinking.

    This is not what I said. Yes, people need to realize that they are enslaved, but if they want to continue to be enslaved, that is their choice, I just ask that they stop forcing me to join them. Reality is reality, if people choose not to see reality for what it is, then that doesn’t mean that their reality is true.

    Like a woman that is beat by her husband that continually believes that he will change to the point of being beat to death, she should have taken the red pill and realized her awful situation, just because she doesn’t see the reality doesn’t mean that her reality is true because it is clearly false. All I ask is that people see the reality, if they want to stay in the abusive relationship, that is their choice.

    That implicitly requires, benignly stated, “education”, and non-beningly stated, “indoctrination”. So you resent the “government” indoctrination because you would prefer to hold the reigns of indoctrination.

    Once again, you bastardize my thoughts and what I have written. I don’t wish for power, you are the one that wishes for power by using violence to get people to do what you want them to do. You are the one that seemingly supports government mandated schools, effectively taking away other people’s choices by making education expensive for the common household who wishes for alternatives but tax them (i.e., steal from them) to the point where they can’t afford alternatives. I only wish that people could educate their children in the manner they deem best without government aggression. I don’t wish to reign at the top of the government school pyramid. How could you even think that. It is entirely ludicrous. Why do you turn the tables and say what I want is what you want when in reality it is you that want government coercion, not me.

    In essence it’s not the presence of control that irks, but the fact that you are not the person who is in control.

    Once again, entirely false. How could you ever come up with such an entirely false conclusion? All I ask is that you people stop using violence to gain control of others. It is completely contrary to any logical thought process. It is completely contrary to liberty and freedom, terms that you draw close with your lips but your heart is far from it. You will see the consequence of your actions. People will not remain passive forever. What do you think OWS is? Sure, they advocate more violence, but the reason they advocate it is directly from the consequences of the violence advocated by others!

    There, I know this will not change your mind, because you have not agreed to a logical based debate, you have not changed your mind or given real thought to anything I’ve written. I have shown that I am willing to question my beliefs, as I said to MH, he was right on a certain point and I had to change the definition of law vs regulations. What have you changed? What have you questioned on your own belief system? You have not kept an open and critical mind. No, next time, if at all, if you want to debate, let’s keep it to a single topic, and make sure that we are open to change, I am, I have, and I will change.

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  132. cowboy on January 24, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    I’m doing this on a cell phone, so I am going to take this bit by bit.

    Somalia: You were invoking Somalia as an example for anarchy. Perhaps Somalia is doing better than it’s neighbors, but that equation, like so many in this debate, fails to track the misses. It isn’t sufficient to just ask why Somalia is doing better. We must also ask why it’s neighbors are doing worse. Which if explored, may say nothing at all about anarchy, but a great deal about the other systems under evaluation.

    Putting this aside, the “apples and oranges” argument was my point. Somalia is not an adequate template for justifying actions we should take. Even if they are doing better than their neighbors, they are doing far worse than us, so how is Somalia a good example.

    As for your Mises reference, the content was bald speculation. Perhaps if the U.N. Stayed out of their way they would be peaceful. Then again, perhaps not. My guess is not.

    However you spin it though, none of this was a misrepresentation of your views. It was a disagreement, and there is a difference.

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  133. cowboy on January 24, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I’m doing this on a cell phone, so I am going to take this bit by bit.

    Somalia: You were invoking Somalia as an example for anarchy. Perhaps Somalia is doing better than it’s neighbors, but that equation, like so many in this debate, fails to track the misses. It isn’t sufficient to just ask why Somalia is doing better. We must also ask why it’s neighbors are doing worse. Which if explored, may say nothing at all about anarchy, but a great deal about the other systems under evaluation.

    Putting this aside, the “apples and oranges” argument was my point. Somalia is not an adequate template for justifying actions we should take. Even if they are doing better than their neighbors, they are doing far worse than us, so how is Somalia a good example?

    As for your Mises reference, the content was bald speculation. Perhaps if the U.N. Stayed out of their way they would be peaceful. Then again, perhaps not. My guess is not.

    However you spin it though, none of this was a misrepresentation of your views it was a disagreement. There is a difference.

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  134. Jon on January 24, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Somalia: You were invoking Somalia as an example for anarchy. Perhaps Somalia is doing better than it’s neighbors, but that equation, like so many in this debate, fails to track the misses. It isn’t sufficient to just ask why Somalia is doing better. We must also ask why it’s neighbors are doing worse. Which if explored, may say nothing at all about anarchy, but a great deal about the other systems under evaluation.

    So, you can compare the two systems, but you can’t compare them, but you can compare them and say that anarchy doesn’t work, but you can’t saying anything about the statists regime? Hhmm, yeah, I get it.

    Even if they are doing better than their neighbors, they are doing far worse than us, so how is Somalia a good example?

    Didn’t I address this already? You can’t compare us to them. You have to compare countries that are in more similar circumstances, like same GDP, etc. Remember, I didn’t bring up Somalia first, it was MH, I don’t think it is the best example to bring up with statists, because they’ll get confused.

    As for your Mises reference, the content was bald speculation. Perhaps if the U.N. Stayed out of their way they would be peaceful. Then again, perhaps not. My guess is not.

    Why would you guess it would not? What proof do you have? I can show you multiple examples of our interference with other countries that has caused the country to get worse not better, like Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    There is a difference between a disagreement and misrepresentation, you misrepresented my views, I have shown you in great detail that you have. Can you not admit a mistake on your part? I know, it hurts, I don’t like to either, but sometimes, it is best to say, yes, I shouldn’t have written what I did. I do, I have in previous posts, I will in future posts.

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  135. cowboy on January 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    The second part of your argument is where things really start to fall apart. You insist that people are “enslaved”, yet provide no evidence of this. Then you insist that somehow you are being forced to participate. Even more strange, your argument seems to suggest that I have something to do with that??? All of these claims cry for evidence Jon. Real tangible evidence, not just your “theory”.

    Education – I find it very interesting that we are having this debate about misrepresentation, and yet on your tirade about education you make so many assumptions about me that are patently false. I support private education, including tax waivers? I don’t think those schools should be able to teach “anything”, but that we should generall err on the side of allowing latitude. I would support some efforts however to monitor and control some of what is taught in a Warren Jeff’s compound, so I wouldn’t support a completely unregulated system, but so long as the schools are seeking to promote a higher standard of education, I say stay out of their way.

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  136. Jon on January 24, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    1. A person who is the property of another person and whose labor and also whose life often is subject to the owner’s volition.
    2. A person who is legally obliged by prior contract (oral or written) to work for another, with contractually limited rights to bargain; an indentured servant.
    3. A person who is forced against his/her will to perform, for another person or other persons, sexual acts or other personal services on a regular or continuing basis.

    I am forced, against my will, to pay “taxes”, therefore, I am obligated to work for the state because of this “taxes”. That makes me a slave. You could say to the black slaves from before that yes, I give you a place to live, food, and free time, all I ask is for you to go on the plantation and work, of course, if you decide not to I will beat and and possibly kill you. Likewise, the state tells us that it pays for our roads, gives us assistance, but if we decide that we don’t want to participate they will send us a letter, saying, pay up, if we don’t they will come to our house with another letter, if we still refuse, they will come with armed men, if we try and protect our property, they will either take us to prison or kill us. Obviously, we are not truly free, especially the larger the state gets, which is natural for all states, to become larger until they either collapse on themselves or the people revolt and say enough. It doesn’t get much more tangible than that. I’m sure you will say that that doesn’t constitute slavery, but the definitions and our circumstances match.

    Private education? How is it private when the state tells you what you can and cannot teach, how you must teach, etc, with all your regulations. The only freedom we have in education is if you take your children home to educate them, and that is only in states that haven’t taken that freedom away. You say you are for freedom but support stealing people’s money to pay for your pet projects? You say you are for freedom but refuse to let schools and parents decide for themselves what to teach their children. How have I misrepresenting you? I have clearly stated that you support violence in education to get people to do what you want them to do, in your rebuttal, that is what you still claim.

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  137. cowboy on January 24, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    As I said, I’m on a cell phone, so it would be too difficult to go line by line here. Jon, you still haven’t shown how I misrepresented you. We’ve hashed out our differences, and we clearly disagree. I won’t apologize for that. Furthermore, I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong, I just won’t do it because you insist that I should. If we want to in more depth we’ll have to do it when I have time to sit at a computer.

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  138. cowboy on January 25, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    A little more time here.

    This isn’t intended to be a “if you don’t it here then leave” comment, but in seriousness, why don’t you try to start a community of your own somewhere, based on these principles. You’d probably have to leave the country, but there are communities around the world that do not pay taxes, and have total control over the education. I mean if you really feel justified in the “slave” argument, leaving the country and moving somewhere that you can be free on your own terms makes sense.

    Somalia: why would comparable GDP’s matter??? Are you saying that violence is a ratio of a nations over all production? The apples and oranges point that I was making is not that they “can’t” be compared, but they “aren’t” comparable. In other words, your argument is only tenable when confined to your nonsensical parameters. You are suggesting that as a defense for anarchy they can only be compared to surrounding nations, and then cite GDP as a constraint, which makes no sense. If GDP mattered then essentially you are saying that the primary factors are not necessarily economic systems, but rather availability of natural resources and production capabilities.

    *just as I am writing this the report on the today show is a story of an American and Belgian who were rescued by U.S. Navy seals from Somali pirates.*

    In other words, notions of “principle” would be irrelevant to the argument if we accepted your argument.

    So far Jon, we are just back into the debate about issues. Still, we started this part of the discussion to answer your claims that I had misrepresented your position. I contend that I haven’t. As it currently stands, you have not really even attempted to show where I did that. You are supposed to be showing how I made a comment representing your views, that is not justified by your previous comments.

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