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Discussion: (59 comments)

  1. Seattle Sam

    Yes, but then they turn around and use the money they vacuum up from the rest of us to push extreme right wing ideas like voluntary exchange of value. And they blame the government for everything.

    [Sorry, I was just trying to save Robert puharic some time this morning]

    1. Jon Murphy

      You didn’t save him much time. He just said what you said, but also called everyone peasants.

  2. Michael P Stein

    I’ve never heard of people having a problem with Koch products, or with the Kochs buying the products of other producers. This post strikes me as a strawman argument. All the objections I’ve heard are to the Kochs buying politicians. Granted, even those transactions are beneficial to the parties involved, but this proves nothing about whether they’re good for the country as a whole.

    1. Jon Murphy

      Assuming they are buying politicians (which they are not, but I don’t feel the need to get into that argument), that is not what the post is addressing.

      The typical argument is that rich people don’t do anything to deserve their wealth (the idle rich). For example, the Koch Brothers just inherited their wealth and do nothing but fund politics with it. That clearly is not the case.

    2. chuck martel

      ” this proves nothing about whether they’re good for the country as a whole.”

      How do you determine what’s good for the country as a whole? Is it possible that anything could be good for the country as a whole? Would manna from heaven be good for the country as a whole or would it put the hurt on the baking industry? Maybe increase obesity and then bankrupt farmers and their mortgage holders, too.

      The Koch brothers are evidently attempting to influence politics. Is their influence equal to that of E.J. Dionne or Ruth Marcus or Charles Blow or Paul Krugman? Or are the ideas of these media types more important and valid than that of successful businessmen that employ thousands of people and supply the population with many essentials? If Nick Kristof or Ann Coulter were snatched off the face of the earth by undiscriminating aliens most of us would never notice. Flint Hills Refining is closing a refinery in North Pole, AK and the whole state is freaking out. http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/community_perspectives/letting-flint-hills-refinery-close-is-simply-wrong/article_fa717614-906b-11e3-a532-0017a43b

      1. morganovich

        so, the koch brothers made people’s lives better through free enterprise, and then use some of the profits they made from it to support free enterprise which would allow both them and others to keep making life better, and for this, they are villains?

        and teacher’s unions that fight tooth and claw to prevent merit based pay and any useful change in the school systems while using corecion to suck money out of members and then donate far more to politicians than the koch’s ever dreamed of are the good guys?

        talk about agenda driven, hypocritical tripe…

        1. Michael P. Stein

          @morganovich – “so, the koch brothers made people’s lives better through free enterprise, and then use some of the profits they made from it to support free enterprise which would allow both them and others to keep making life better, and for this, they are villains?”

          Well, it’s not that simple.

          Some of the profits they make go into political contributions. And some of the political contributions they make support free enterprise.

          Other political contributions they make (some indirectly) support things that are not free enterprise. You may recall a prior conversation about throwing trash on other people’s property. The Kochs also work to remove environmental protections. The Deepwater Horizon blowout is only one reminder that companies consistently seem to underestimate risks. The biggest danger in that is a company that can’t pay for the potential damage and just goes bankrupt. The owners reap all the profits if everything goes right, but impose costs (or at least risks) on others who did not agree to them. This danger doesn’t seem to apply to the Kochs themselves, true, but the rule changes they push for apply to everyone including less well-heeled operators.

          The Kochs also fund groups that work to make one major exception to the principle of eliminating burdensome regulations:

          http://www.salon.com/2013/09/13/koch_brothers_give_millions_to_group_that_lobbied_for_texas_draconian_abortion_restrictions/

          You might not like abortion, but it is legal, and the Texas restrictions are ones that conservatives would be screaming about if they were applied to any other legal business.

          And while David Koch claims to support marriage equality for gays personally, they fund groups that are very anti-gay.

          If someone with whom I do business uses the money I spend for purposes I find odious, it is my right as a consumer to consider those odious actions as a negative that offsets the economic benefit I gain from the transaction. If you only look at the benefit of a trade and ignore the complete picture, you should eliminate all sanctions on Iran. Who cares whether or not they might at some time in the future use the profits from those transactions to provide nuclear weapons to terrorists?

          1. The Deepwater Horizon blowout is only one reminder that companies consistently seem to underestimate risks.

            This is ridiculous. First and foremost, the only reason that BP was drilling in such deep and dangerous waters, rather than MUCH safer shallower waters was because goverment regulation prevented that safe drilling. Secondly, saying that P(X) = p, then X happens, does not mean that p was calculated to be too low. What the Deepwater Horizon showed is that there are always risks.

            You might not like abortion, but it is legal, and the Texas restrictions are ones that conservatives would be screaming about if they were applied to any other legal business.

            This is also ridiculous. The false equivalence that preventing a person from killing another is the same as preventing a commercial transaction is a logical sin that all who put if forth should be ashamed of.

            And while David Koch claims to support marriage equality for gays personally, they fund groups that are very anti-gay.

            So your claim is that people should only donate to groups with whom they agree 100% of the time? Again, ridiculous.

            If someone with whom I do business uses the money I spend for purposes I find odious

            Like every single person in the world? If you think you agree with anyone 100% on anything or that a person doesn’t hold a belief you find ‘odious’ only means you don’t know that person as well as you thought you did.

            Who cares whether or not they might at some time in the future use the profits from those transactions to provide nuclear weapons to terrorists?

            Not only is this ridiculous, it is meaningless. There is a potential for any dollar to end up being used for evil means. This in no way justifies shutting down peaceful and voluntary trade.

          2. Michael

            Well, it’s not that simple.

            Some of the profits they make go into political contributions. And some of the political contributions they make support free enterprise.

            Other political contributions they make (some indirectly) support things that are not free enterprise.

            So if I understand your comment correctly, the Koch brothers use some of their honestly earned income for purposes you don’t like. If that’s a problem, what are you recommending?

            Of course as a consumer, you can deny them the profit they would earn from your purchases (and the benefit you receive from buying those products instead of others), by simply not buying products or services owned by KII.

          3. Michael P. Stein

            @Ken – ” The false equivalence that preventing a person from killing another is the same as preventing a commercial transaction is a logical sin that all who put if forth should be ashamed of.”

            Not everyone shares your belief on that. But the real point is that the Kochs are doing things with their money that are not simply a defense of the free market.

            “So your claim is that people should only donate to groups with whom they agree 100% of the time? Again, ridiculous.”

            No, my point is this: while one may contribute to groups with which one has minor points of disagreement, others may not find those same points so minor, and consider the donor to be violating a no-compromise principle. What if the Kochs were instead contributing to a group that supported free enterprise but also supported unrestricted abortion? Would you consider that to be nothing more than a reasonable compromise with a group they didn’t agree 100% with, or is abortion a no-compromise issue for you that would cause you to think badly of the Kochs if they were funding the other side of it even incidentally?

            Does that help clarify my point?

            ” There is a potential for any dollar to end up being used for evil means.”

            True, but it is ridiculous to pretend that someone with a proven record of bad acts and an openly stated desire to continue them has exactly the same potential to use those dollars for evil means than your grandmother, so there’s no reason to differentiate.

          4. Michael

            The Deepwater Horizon blowout is only one reminder that companies consistently seem to underestimate risks.

            Actually the Deepwater Horizon blowout is a reminder that there are risks involved in drilling in deep water, as there in most human activities. We don’t know whether the risk was underestimated, and of course all risk cannot be eliminated from any activity.

            It’s important to keep in mind that the Deepwater Horizon blowout first became a problem as a blowout and a burning oil platform. It didn’t become a major oil spill until fire suppression efforts pumped the platform full of water, sinking it, and crushing 5000 feet of previously intact pipe, Thereby allowing an unrestricted flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from a very difficult to reach location 5000 ft below the surface.

          5. Not everyone shares your belief on that.

            Who thinks that the prevention of killing another human being is equivalent to preventing commercial transactions?

            What if the Kochs were instead contributing to a group that supported free enterprise but also supported unrestricted abortion?

            Many at the Mercatus Institute and George Mason University do support unrestricted abortion. The Kochs donate heavily to both of these institutions. Are you just lazy in your research or do you simply suffer from Koch derangement syndrome like all lefties?

            Would you consider that to be nothing more than a reasonable compromise with a group they didn’t agree 100% with

            Reasonable? No. However, I can’t think of a single libertarian institution or think take from whom I withhold my support. And FYI, there are many many libertarians, probably a majority of libertarians, who support unrestricted abortion.

            is abortion a no-compromise issue for you that would cause you to think badly of the Kochs if they were funding the other side of it even incidentally

            Since the Kochs do this very thing, as I point out above, and I do not think badly of the Kochs, the answer is “No”.

            “Does that help clarify my point?”

            No. But it does clarify your laziness in research and desperation in demonizing the Kochs.

            it is ridiculous to pretend that someone with a proven record of bad acts

            Who are you talking about? What “someone” has this “proven record of bad acts”? In your context above, you made the ridiculous claim that “If you only look at the benefit of a trade and ignore the complete picture, you should eliminate all sanctions on Iran.” Are you claiming that the people of Iran have “a proven record of bad acts”? Are you really condemning an entire people? That’s an absurdly racist claim to make. Free trade with Iran is absolutely the course to take.

            The US should remove all trade sanctions on Iran. Free trade definitively weakens a tyrannical government, whereas sanctions cut of the ordinary people of those countries, leaving the ordinary people of that country at the mercy to the ever encroaching tyranny of their tyrant rulers. In case you didn’t know, free trade is unrestricted trade with all members of society, not just the politically approved ones, a structure the tyrants prefer because it’s easier to control. And the biggest benefit of free trade is the cultural exchange. Nothing could be better than to reduce the power of the oppressive and awful culture imposed on Iranians by their evil oppressors.

        2. Michael P. Stein

          @Ken – “Who thinks that the prevention of killing another human being is equivalent to preventing commercial transactions?”

          Nobody I know. The belief that not everyone shares is that a first-trimester abortion is in fact the killing of another human being – as you yourself recognize farther down in your reply. If they don’t share that belief, then their actual belief is that the prevention of a voluntary medical procedure is the same as preventing any other voluntary commercial transaction.

          One’s position on abortion is entirely a matter of definition. If the fetus is a human from the moment of conception, then allowing it to be killed is antilibertarian. (There is a principled argument that can be made to allow it in the case of rape: since the woman did not in any way consent to host the child or even run the risk of hosting one, she does not owe it the use of her body.) If the fetus is not a human being, then banning abortion is antilibertarian. But neither position is provable.

          “Many at the Mercatus Institute and George Mason University do support unrestricted abortion. The Kochs donate heavily to both of these institutions. Are you just lazy in your research or do you simply suffer from Koch derangement syndrome like all lefties?”

          Neither. First, the specifics were not germane to the general point I’m trying to make, which Ron H. seemed to grasp quite well in his last reply: people can rationally examine the larger consequences of a transaction, not just the immediate consequences, and refrain from that transaction for noneconomic reasons. It’s their right as consumers (something I am confident you agree with), and it can be a rational choice (something I’m not so sure you agree with).

          Second, I see a difference between donating to a university where some professors hold political views I don’t like, and donating to groups whose focus is to try to elect candidates whose political views I don’t like. The latter kind of group is actually trying to impose their views through the political process. Universities are not.

          “However, I can’t think of a single libertarian institution or think take from whom I withhold my support. And FYI, there are many many libertarians, probably a majority of libertarians, who support unrestricted abortion.”

          So libertarianism is so important to you that you’re willing to support libertarians even if they disagree with you on abortion. I have no problem with that; only you can decide your own priorities. How about the other way around? Would you support a group whose focus is primarily anti-abortion if they also espoused non-libertarian principles? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you don’t hold any principle so strongly that you won’t do business with anyone who is actively working to subvert that principle. Other people do. And both of you should be free to transact or refrain from transacting according to those beliefs. Both positions are rational.

          “What “someone” has this “proven record of bad acts”?”

          Um … the government of Iran? Was that _really_ so hard to figure out?

          “In your context above, you made the ridiculous claim that ‘If you only look at the benefit of a trade and ignore the complete picture, you should eliminate all sanctions on Iran.” Are you claiming that the people of Iran have “a proven record of bad acts’?”

          No, the government.

          “The US should remove all trade sanctions on Iran. Free trade definitively weakens a tyrannical government, whereas sanctions cut of the ordinary people of those countries,”

          OK, go try to sell uranium enrichment centrifuges to the ordinary people of Iran. See how many they buy. Wait – you did say _all_ sanctions, right? So I guess it should be just as okay to sell centrifuges to the Iranian government. Lenin’s statement could usefully be updated to, “When it comes time to nuke the infidels, the infidels will sell us the nukes.”

          Oh, one more thing: I try to write precisely. When I write “I believe”, then you can accuse me of believing something you disagree with. When I say “some believe”, it is not safe to assume I’m one of the “some”. In this entire discussion, I have not been trying to make any point about the Kochs personally. I have mainly been trying to make a point about whether or not immediate economic benefit is the only thing a rational person should ever be concerned with.

          1. Michael

            (There is a principled argument that can be made to allow it in the case of rape: since the woman did not in any way consent to host the child or even run the risk of hosting one, she does not owe it the use of her body.)

            No there isn’t – unless one believes the value of a fetus’s life is dependent on the state of mind of the mother, and a child born to a rape victim is less valuable than any other child. Either a woman can choose to abort her fetus or she can’t.

            The principle involved is the question of whether a fetus is a human being, not how it’s mother came to be pregnant. There is no biological distinction between the products of consenting and non-consenting sex.

          2. Michael P. Stein

            @ Ron H – “No there isn’t [a principled argument to be made for abortion in the case of rape] – unless one believes the value of a fetus’s life is dependent on the state of mind of the mother …”

            In that case, you have just conceded the case for the welfare state. The fetus is incapable of living outside the womb on its own, and needs nine months of involuntary support of the raped mother in order to live. If I understand you correctly, she cannot be permitted to have the fetus removed from her body to sink or swim on its own.

            But even beyond that, after a full-term birth it is still incapable of caring for itself, and will need many years of support beyond that. Is she responsible for that as well? If someone leaves a baby on your doorstep, do you and you alone have a legal responsibility to raise it until it’s capable of living on its own, simply because you had the bad luck to have the baby dropped on your doorstep? As you said, the principle involved is the question of whether a baby is a human being, not how it came to be on your property. There is no more biological distinction between the products of your own body and someone else’s body than there is between the product of consensual and non-consensual sex. By your own argument, you’re responsible for it.

            Even worse, once we’ve gone that far, then why is that different from a disabled adult who needs someone else’s support? Your state of mind (that you never agreed to support that adult, and did nothing to incur an obligation) likewise has nothing to do with whether that adult is a human being less valuable than any other human being. Either you can choose to support the human being who cannot survive without someone else’s support, or you can’t. If you can’t be permitted to choose in the case of an infant, why can you choose in the case of an incapacitated adult? You have no more obligation than anyone else to support that person – but then again, you have no less obligation either.

            Care to rethink that?

          3. Michael

            In that case, you have just conceded the case for the welfare state.

            Nonsense. I’ve done no such thing. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, as you apparently misunderstood my comment.

            The argument for aborting the product of rape is the same argument for aborting a fetus for any other reason. I’m not objecting to an argument for abortion, I’m objecting to your placing a different value on a fetus that results from rape. You can argue for or against abortion, but the fetus is the same no matter the circumstances of its conception.

            You are placing a lower value on a fetus resulting from rape, when that act has nothing to do with the fetus, but instead has everything to do with the mental state of the mother.

            Is that better?

            The fetus is incapable of living outside the womb on its own, and needs nine months of involuntary support of the raped mother in order to live.

            That’s true of all fetuses. There’s nothing different about one resulting from rape.

            If I understand you correctly, she cannot be permitted to have the fetus removed from her body to sink or swim on its own.

            You misunderstood me. I didn’t argue against abortion,. I argued against allowing abortion in cases of rape if you wouldn’t allow it otherwise. Either a mother can abort a fetus for ANY reason or she can’t. The life of the fetus has the same value in either case.

            But even beyond that, after a full-term birth it is still incapable of caring for itself, and will need many years of support beyond that. Is she responsible for that as well?

            No she isn’t. After birth, any other person can, if they so choose, accept responsibility for raising a child. Would you value that child resulting from rape less than one that was planned for and wanted? The child isn’t responsible for its mothers rape, nor for her mental state because of it.

            If someone leaves a baby on your doorstep, do you and you alone have a legal responsibility to raise it until it’s capable of living on its own, simply because you had the bad luck to have the baby dropped on your doorstep?

            No. I have no responsibility for your strawman a child dropped on my doorstep. I may feel a moral obligation to see that the child is safe, but that is my choice. I haven’t been made responsible by the action of others. Incidentally, “legal” is a purely political term, and doesn’t equate to moral or ethical.

            As you said, the principle involved is the question of whether a baby is a human being, not how it came to be on your property.

            That’s correct, but I didn’t make that argument. I don’t think anyone questions whether a child that is already born is a human being, and its being a product of rape has no bearing on its status as a human being.

            There is no more biological distinction between the products of your own body and someone else’s body than there is between the product of consensual and non-consensual sex.

            That’s also correct, but my objection was to your different characterization of fetuses, not already born children.

            There are 2 unresolved, and perhaps unanswerable, questions about abortion. One is, when does a fertilized egg becomes a human being, the other is whether one human being can be held, against their will, in service to another.

            By your own argument, you’re responsible for it.

            Not at all. you misunderstood my comment.

            Even worse, once we’ve gone that far, then why is that different from a disabled adult who needs someone else’s support?

            There is no difference. I haven’t argued otherwise.

            Your state of mind (that you never agreed to
            support that adult…

            We don’t disagree on that point.

            Care to rethink that?

            Not at all. My previous point was and is consistent. There is nothing to rethink. Maybe you should re-read it for better comprehension.

          4. Michael P. Stein

            @Ron – “The argument for aborting the product of rape is the same argument for aborting a fetus for any other reason.”

            I maintain that it is not. I understand your argument; I believe you are missing something.

            Under what circumstances should we have a _legal_ (not moral) obligation to provide support for another human being?

            If through your deliberate or negligent action, you injure someone, you legally owe them compensation. If the injury requires lifelong medical care, too bad for you – your fault, your responsibility. If they are injured by a meteorite falling from the sky, however, you do not have a legal obligation to them unless we have a government compelling you (and everyone else who is capable of earning enough money to pitch in) to support such people solely because they have equal value as human beings.

            Do you deny that the value of the person is the same in either case? I trust not. Their value has nothing to do with your obligation or lack of it. It is your agency that makes you responsible in the first case, and your lack of agency that relieves you of responsibility in the second (absent a welfare state).

            “No. I have no responsibility for your strawman …”

            It is not a strawman, as I shall demonstrate.

            “… a child dropped on my doorstep. I may feel a moral obligation to see that the child is safe, but that is my choice. I haven’t been made responsible by the action of others. ”

            Yet you claim that if the fetus is considered a human being, if the baby is dropped by a rapist not on her doorstep, but in her womb, then she _has_ been made responsible by the action of others.

            I find your two positions logically inconsistent. Why is an unborn baby entitled to compulsory support from someone who committed no act that should incur liability, when a born baby is not? Or why is a woman’s womb different from her doorstep, that a baby in the first place should be _legally_ entitled to stay there at her expense, and come out at her (considerable) expense when it’s ready, but she has no legal obligation to provide any support for the baby left in the second place?

          5. Michael

            I understand your argument; I believe you are missing something.

            But you don’t understand my argument, because you are attributing positions to me that I don’t hold.

            Under what circumstances should we have a _legal_ (not moral) obligation to provide support for another human being?

            There are NO circumstances under which we should have a legal obligation to support another, and I haven’t made that argument. You are assuming, for some reason, that I’ve argued against abortion, and I haven’t.

            If through your deliberate or negligent action, you injure someone, you legally [ethically and morally] owe them compensation.

            Of course.

            If they are injured by a meteorite falling from the sky, however, you do not have a legal obligation to them…

            Of course.

            Do you deny that the value of the person is the same in either case? I trust not.

            It is my position that all human beings have equal natural, inalienable rights, therefore they have equal value on an absolute scale. Based on that belief, I question your assigning different values to fetuses, who, whether or not they are human, also have equal potential to become human, and aren’t responsible for the circumstances of their conception.

            Their value has nothing to do with your obligation or lack of it. It is your agency that makes you responsible in the first case, and your lack of agency that relieves you of responsibility in the second (absent a welfare state).

            Of course.

            It is not a strawman, as I shall demonstrate.

            It IS a strawman, as you have attributed positions to me that I don’t hold.

            Yet you claim that if the fetus is considered a human being, if the baby is dropped by a rapist not on her doorstep, but in her womb, then she _has_ been made responsible by the action of others.

            No. I haven’t made that claim. Reread my comments more carefully. Once again – I haven’t argued either for or against abortion. I claim that a woman’s responsibility to her fetus, if she has any, is the same no matter what the circumstances of its conception.

            I find your two positions logically inconsistent.

            That’s because you continue to misunderstand my position.

            Why is an unborn baby entitled to compulsory support from someone who committed no act that should incur liability, when a born baby is not?

            It isn’t.

            Or why is a woman’s womb different from her doorstep.

            It isn’t.

            …that a baby in the first place should be _legally_ entitled to stay there at her expense, and come out at her (considerable) expense when it’s ready, but she has no legal obligation to provide any support for the baby left in the second place?

            There is no legal justification.

            Please read this carefully:

            It is my position that every person has a basic, natural, and inalienable right of self ownership. That means every person owns their own body and may do whatever they wish with it, including but not limited to eating, drinking, and smoking whatever they wish, selling a kidney, or aborting ANY fetus for any reason. There is no need to consider the circumstances of its conception.

            However – there are varying views on when or whether a fetus is a human being. Hence the controversy over the issue of abortion.

            Someone who considers a fetus a human being, must consider abortion to be murder. (Please note at this point that I haven’t claimed to hold that position.)

            But then that same person must consider whether they believe one human being can be held in service to another, which is the case of a fetus demanding total support from its mother.

            I don’t know how to make it any plainer. If you still misunderstand my argument, I don’t know what else to say.

          6. Michael

            Let me try a question: Is it your argument that if person A and person B have consensual sex, that A is responsible for person C, but if person A is raped by person B, then A has no responsibility for C?

          7. Michael P Stein

            @Ron H. – “Let me try a question: Is it your argument that if person A and person B have consensual sex, that A is responsible for person C, but if person A is raped by person B, then A has no responsibility for C?”

            Give the man a kewpie doll. It has nothing to do with the value of the fetus. I cannot imagine what words of mine you took to mean that I had said one was worth less than the other. I never said that and in fact agreed that they had equal worth.

            The question is: what is it that ever causes one person to have a moral (and perhaps legal) responsibility to provide something to another in the first place? One is contract: A promises to do X for B if B does Y for A. B does Y. On the basis of the promise, A now has a moral obligation to live up to the other half of the deal. If you’re not an anarchist, it’s not just a moral obligation but a legal one. A court can compel A to live up to the contract.

            Another is tort: A does something deliberately or negligently that should reasonably have been foreseen to risk causing damage to an innocent B who did not consent to run the risk. B is in fact damaged. A has a moral obligation (and again, if there is such a thing as a government that arbitrates conflicts between people and enforces the resulting judgments, a legal obligation) to make restitution to B. If B is rendered incapable of working for nine months, A owes support to B due to A’s bad act.

            If B had been struck by a meteorite and injured in exactly the same way, A has no responsibility. A did not cause the meteorite; it’s just B’s bad luck.

            If two people have consensual sex, a fetus incapable of caring for itself is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the action. If the fetus is considered to be a thing, and not a human being, then there is no moral obligation. But if it is considered a human being, moral obligation is possible. I _fully understand_ you have not actually asserted that it’s a human. We’re just exploring the ramifications of such a definition, specifically whether abortion can ever be morally defensible _even with the stipulation that it is human_.

            So accepting for the moment the assertion that the fetus is a human being is there a moral obligation? The tort model argues yes. If A and B have consensual sex, a fetus C needing months of womb time and support for many years after is a reasonably-expected consequence of the sex. The baby did not consent to accept that risk. I think it is reasonable to say that A and B have both incurred moral responsibility just as if they had incapacitated an adult C through malice or negligence.

            Imagine that instead of raping A, B drugs A and implants a fertilized egg in her womb. That’s even closer to the baby-on-the-doorstep case. B has done something with intent, and so if any responsibility exists, B has incurred it. A, however, has not anything negligent or intentional to bring this situation about. If you’re not responsible for a baby on your doorstep left by someone else, why would the change of venue from doorstep to uterus change the moral calculus?

            Someone who says that A still has exactly the same obligation to an unborn human (again, just assuming for the sake of exploration that it is in fact a human and not a thing), owes an explanation of the moral calculus that creates this obligation.

            Now, I cannot reject out of hand the argument, “It’s a human exactly as valuable as any other.” But the problem is, that same argument is advanced to justify a welfare state that taxes everyone to support the poor. That orphan over there has no less rights than your own child. If your child has a right to your support, why doesn’t the orphan?

            The answer is that under libertarian principles your child does not have an _abstract_ right of support that can be asserted against society as a whole. Rather, you have an _obligation_ to your own child specifically because he or she was the result of your own deliberate choice. If you hit someone with your car, you owe compensation to the specific person you hit and/or their family, not to accident victims generally. This in no way denies that those other accident victims are equally valuable human beings.

          8. Michael

            Give the man a kewpie doll. It has nothing to do with the value of the fetus.

            It has everything to do with the rights, if any, of the fetus. You are saying that in the consensual case A may not kill C but in the non- consensual case A may kill C. Either a fetus has a right to life, or it doesn’t.

            I cannot imagine what words of mine you took to mean that I had said one was worth less than the other.

            Michael wrote: “One’s position on abortion is entirely a matter of definition. If the fetus is a human from the moment of conception, then allowing it to be killed is antilibertarian. (There is a principled argument that can be made to allow it in the case of rape:

            So, killing a human may be OK in cases of rape? “May be killed” vs “may not be killed” creates a difference in status (value).

            Human vs non-human is a difference in status. Product of consensual sex vs product of non-consensual sex is a difference in status for the mother, not for the fetus. Biology doesn’t care about the circumstances of conception. A fetus is a fetus.

            I never said that and in fact agreed that they had equal worth.

            Either humans CAN be killed or humans CANNOT be killed. You can’t have it both ways. If a fetus isn’t human, then it has no rights, and no status IN EITHER case, whether conception is consensual or non-consensual, and may be killed for any reason, or for no reason.

            The question is: what is it that ever causes one person to have a moral (and perhaps legal) responsibility to provide something to another in the first place? One is contract: A promises to do X for B if B does Y for A. B does Y. On the basis of the promise, A now has a moral obligation to live up to the other half of the deal.

            I understand contract. The issue isn’t about contract. Becoming pregnant doesn’t create an obligation to kill or not kill a fetus based on how the pregnancy came to be.

            If you’re not an anarchist, it’s not just a moral obligation but a legal one. A court can compel A to live up to the contract.

            As an anarchist, I agree that a court can compel performance, It just might be a trusted private provider of justice, rather than a government one.

            Another is tort: A does something deliberately or negligently that should reasonably have been foreseen to risk causing damage to an innocent B who did not consent to run the risk. B is in fact damaged. A has a moral obligation (and again, if there is such a thing as a government that arbitrates conflicts between people and enforces the resulting judgments, a legal obligation) to make restitution to B. If B is rendered incapable of working for nine months, A owes support to B due to A’s bad act.:”

            Yes, a rapist may be held liable for damages done to his victim. That has nothing to do with a fetus.

            If B had been struck by a meteorite and injured in exactly the same way, A has no responsibility. A did not cause the meteorite; it’s just B’s bad luck.

            Yes. If a rapist is thwarted by a meteor striking his intended victim, he isn’t responsible for damage to that intended victim. Or, if a rape victim is subsequently struck by a meteor, no additional damage accrues to the rapist, beyond that directly resulting from the rape.

            If two people have consensual sex, a fetus incapable of caring for itself is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the action.

            Indeed. This is also a reasonably foreseeable consequence of non-consensual sex. A fetus may result in either case. In the first (consensual) case, says Michael, a fetus, if human, may not be killed. In the second (non-consensual) case, says Michael, the fetus, if human, MAY be killed.

            If the fetus is considered to be a thing, and not a human being, then there is no moral obligation. But if it is considered a human being, moral obligation is possible. I _fully understand_ you have not actually asserted that it’s a human. We’re just exploring the ramifications of such a definition, specifically whether abortion can ever be morally defensible _even with the stipulation that it is human_.

            In my view, a human may not be killed except in self defense, or arguably in retribution in the service of justice. IF a fetus is defined as a human, than it can’t be killed, unless you can justify the killing of a person who places another person in their service against their will.

            If someone is held as a slave can they kill their enslaver to gain their freedom? The answer must be “yes” to allow abortion of a “human” fetus. Rape is irrelevant to this question.

            So accepting for the moment the assertion that the fetus is a human being is there a moral obligation? The tort model argues yes. If A and B have consensual sex, a fetus C needing months of womb time and support for many years after is a reasonably-expected consequence of the sex. The baby did not consent to accept that risk. I think it is reasonable to say that A and B have both incurred moral responsibility just as if they had incapacitated an adult C through malice or negligence.

            Heh! And if only A acted negligently and against B’s will, then only A is culpable, and innocent B is free to kill incapacitated person C to avoid having to care for C until they can care for themselves. I think you are confused.

            Imagine that instead of raping A, B drugs A and implants a fertilized egg in her womb. That’s even closer to the baby-on-the-doorstep case. B has done something with intent, and so if any responsibility exists, B has incurred it. A, however, has not anything negligent or intentional to bring this situation about. If you’re not responsible for a baby on your doorstep left by someone else, why would the change of venue from doorstep to uterus change the moral calculus?

            It doesn’t. While A has no responsibility for the child on her doorstep, she isn’t free to kill it as a solution. You are confusing positive actions with happenstance.

            Someone who says that A still has exactly the same obligation to an unborn human (again, just assuming for the sake of exploration that it is in fact a human and not a thing), owes an explanation of the moral calculus that creates this obligation.

            “A” has no obligation to another person that A hasn’t agreed to accept. She may not, however kill another human being except in self defense, or to free herself from involuntary servitude, if you believe that’s an acceptable reason to kill, and can call the pregnant mother’s condition slavery.

            Now, I cannot reject out of hand the argument, “It’s a human exactly as valuable as any other.” But the problem is, that same argument is advanced to justify a welfare state that taxes everyone to support the poor.

            that’s not the same at all. Having value as a human being doesn’t obligate anyone else, except perhaps to respect that human being’s rights, which are negative.

            There is no positive right to medical care, food, shelter, clothing, education, transportation, a good paying job, or anything else. There is only a right to self ownership: To Not be killed, to liberty, and to your property, including your own body.

            The welfare state is A stealing property from B to support C. B has no obligation to C, and neither A nor B can claim they have compassion for C.

            That orphan over there has no less rights than your own child.

            That’s exactly right. I may not kill, imprison, or rob either one.

            If your child has a right to your support, why doesn’t the orphan?

            Neither the orphan nor my own child has a “right” to my support. I have chosen to obligate myself to support my own child. I have made a contract with myself, so to speak.

            The answer is that under libertarian principles your child does not have an _abstract_ right of support that can be asserted against society as a whole.

            Nor does my child have a right of support that can be asserted against me. I have *chosen* to accept the role of supporter.

            Rather, you have an _obligation_ to your own child specifically because he or she was the result of your own deliberate choice.

            That’s right. I have *chosen* to be obligated. I have obligated myself.

            If you hit someone with your car, you owe compensation to the specific person you hit and/or their family, not to accident victims generally.

            In that case, I have violated the natural rights of someone else to not be damaged or killed. I am responsible for compensating for their loss.

            This in no way denies that those other accident victims are equally valuable human beings.

            That’s right. If I rape someone, I’m not responsible to all rape victims, only to my own.

          9. Michael P. Stein

            @Ken H. –

            “In my view, a human may not be killed except in self defense, or arguably in retribution in the service of justice. IF a fetus is defined as a human, than it can’t be killed, unless you can justify the killing of a person who places another person in their service against their will.

            If someone is held as a slave can they kill their enslaver to gain their freedom? The answer must be “yes” to allow abortion of a “human” fetus. Rape is irrelevant to this question.”

            Most people would answer yes to the question of whether an enslaver can be killed if that’s what it takes to escape – but not in all circumstances. Suppose the woman is abducted by a man who says that he’s going to use her body for nine months, but then let her go (and offers proof he’s done this in the past). As long as she is not in fear of her _life_, do you believe she does _not_ have the right to kill him if that really is her only way to escape? What about 18 years, not nine months? Does the length of the enslavement make a difference? What about for life, like the slaves in the South? Do you believe that they were _not_ entitled to kill their enslavers in order to escape?

            Most people I know believe that they would be entitled to do so – that self-defense permits killing not only in defense of one’s biological right to life, but also defense of one’s fundamental human right to freedom. If you do not believe the second part of this, then you must logically believe that our Founding Fathers were accessories to murderer for the shooting of British soldiers in order to win independence.

            But there is an exception that everyone I know believes in: a criminal who has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned is not acting in self-defense when killing a guard to escape. That’s murder in the book of everyone I know. Saying that rape is irrelevant to the question is like saying that conviction for a crime and imprisonment is irrelevant to the question of whether the a prisoner is morally entitled to kill someone in order to escape.

            But I do see the crux of the disagreement here: whether or not the baby is violating the mother’s right to freedom if the mother is not carrying it as a consequence of her own voluntary action. There is another issue that needs clarification: whether simply removing the fetus from the womb and letting it live or die on its own is the same thing as murder. If you simply do nothing at all for the baby on your doorstep, and it eventually starves or freezes, is that murder? RU-486 does not actually kill the fetus – it just stops providing a viable environment for the pregnancy to continue.

            Just like the question of whether a fetus is a human being or not, or at what stage of development it becomes one (Conception? The point at which it is capable of living outside the womb on its own?), these questions involve definitions and first principles and can’t be proved one way or the other. If one takes as a first principle that all people have a right to life, and that always trumps others’ right to freedom, you get the welfare state. If you take as a first principle that people have a right to freedom, and only have a right to the life that they can support on their own or get others to provide voluntarily, you get a libertarian state.

          10. Michael

            @Ken H. @Ron H. –

            Most people would answer yes to the question of whether an enslaver can be killed if that’s what it takes to escape…

            As would I. The question is, whether a fetus can be defined as an enslaver. I’m not offering an answer, just asking the question.

            – but not in all circumstances. Suppose the woman is abducted by a man who says that he’s going to use her body for nine months, but then let her go

            It doesn’t matter what he says, the point is that she is held against her will.

            (and offers proof he’s done this in the past).

            Irrelevant.

            As long as she is not in fear of her _life_, do you believe she does _not_ have the right to kill him if that really is her only way to escape?

            We can’t know whether she is in fear for her life. If killing her captor is – in her judgment – the only way to be free, then she is justified in doing so.

            What about 18 years, not nine months? Does the length of the enslavement make a difference?

            No, the length of enslavement makes no difference. Her perception of her circumstances and possible future are what make the difference.

            What about for life, like the slaves in the South? Do you believe that they were _not_ entitled to kill their enslavers in order to escape?

            Enslavement is enslavement. A person whose basic natural rights to self ownership, including life, liberty, and property are threatened, may resist that violation by the use of force, up to and including deadly force.

            Most people I know believe that they would be entitled to do so – that self-defense permits killing not only in defense of one’s biological right to life, but also defense of one’s fundamental human right to freedom.

            And in defense of one’s property. If you break into my house unannounced, you are likely to lose your life, even though your intentions aren’t known to me.

            If you do not believe the second part of this, then you must logically believe that our Founding Fathers were accessories to murderer for the shooting of British soldiers in order to win independence.

            You are suggesting that I may hold views that I don’t hold. In an earlier comment on this thread you wrote:

            In an earlier comment on this thread you wrote:

            Oh, one more thing: I try to write precisely. When I write “I believe”, then you can accuse me of believing something you disagree with. When I say “some believe”, it is not safe to assume I’m one of the “some.

            When *I* write “the answer must be yes”, you can’t assume that my answer is “no”.

            But there is an exception that everyone I know believes in: a criminal who has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned is not acting in self-defense when killing a guard to escape. That’s murder in the book of everyone I know.

            Yes, that person has given up their right to protection of their rights by violating the rights of others. They are outside the law – an “outlaw”.

            Saying that rape is irrelevant to the question is like saying that conviction for a crime and imprisonment is irrelevant to the question of whether the a prisoner is morally entitled to kill someone in order to escape.

            You have the actors mixed up. The criminal (rapist) has violated the rights of his victim, and may be prosecuted and punished for that crime. If he kills a guard to escape, he is a murderer. The fetus is not any party to this.

            The separate questions are, whether the fetus is a human being, and whether it’s holding its mother to its service against her will. Those are the same questions that must be asked about aborting ANY fetus, regardless of how it came to exist.

            But I do see the crux of the disagreement here: whether or not the baby is violating the mother’s right to freedom…

            Yes

            …if the mother is not carrying it as a consequence of her own voluntary action.

            No.

            There is another issue that needs clarification: whether simply removing the fetus from the womb and letting it live or die on its own is the same thing as murder.”

            Taking a positive action that results in the death of a human being is murder. the question in this case is wherther the fetus is a human being.

            If you simply do nothing at all for the baby on your doorstep, and it eventually starves or freezes, is that murder?

            Not on your part, unless you are the one who placed it in danger. Taking no action isn’t the same as taking a positive action. The crime, if there is one, is removing an infant from a safe environment and placing it where it will likely die. Instead of doorstep, think railroad tracks.

            RU-486 does not actually kill the fetus – it just stops providing a viable environment for the pregnancy to continue.

            It is a positive action that results in the death of the fetus. The equivalence is to placing a baby on the railroad tracks as a train approaches. the person who acted is a criminal. Those who didn’t act to save it aren’t criminals, but we could certainly hold them in contempt for their callous disregard for human life.

            Just like the question of whether a fetus is a human being or not, or at what stage of development it becomes one (Conception? The point at which it is capable of living outside the womb on its own?), these questions involve definitions and first principles and can’t be proved one way or the other.

            Exactly. My own view is that a fetus is human when it’s viable outside the womb, but I am certainly not “pro” abortion. I would urge live birth and adoption for any unwanted fetus at all but very early stages of development, perhaps after it is distinguishable as a human, and not still identical to a fish or a bird. However, my belief in individual self ownership would keep my from interfering with the choices of the mother.

            If one takes as a first principle that all people have a right to life, and that always trumps others’ right to freedom, you get the welfare state.

            No. Right to life means just that, a right to not have one’s life taken. It doesn’t mean others have any responsibility for ensuring that life, just an obligation not to take it.

            If you take as a first principle that people have a right to freedom, and only have a right to the life that they can support on their own or get others to provide voluntarily, you get a libertarian state.

            Libertarian first principles include a right to self ownership, which includes a right to be free, to not be killed, and to not have your property taken or used against your will. They impose no obligation on others, but respecting the same rights of others allows advanced societies to exist that provide the most benefit to individual members.

          11. Sorry about the sloppy use of HTML tags.

    3. Yeah – except that they are paintedas dirty oil men. Folks don’t appreciate that supplying us with energy is a good thing. Many folks seem to think supplying useful resources is some kind of anti human plot.

    4. Michael

      This post strikes me as a strawman argument.

      From the WP article:

      Charles and David Koch are hated by Democrats and loved by Republicans. But regardless of which party you support, there’s almost no question that the Koch Brothers have made money off of you.” (Jeff Simon / The Washington Post)

      Dr. Perry’s point is that due to the mutually beneficial nature of voluntary exchanges, YOU have made money (value) off the Koch brothers also. If that were not so, you wouldn’t buy their products.

      A measure of their success at pleasing millions of customers is the great wealth it has created for them – and for those customers.

    5. “Buying politicians” is a pretty silly argument, but it’s particularly wrong as applied to David Koch, who IS a politician. As the 1980 Libertarian Party candidate for vice president, on the ballot in all 50 states, he went around the country tirelessly campaigning for IDEAS. Because you don’t run on the Libertarian ticket to get elected.

  3. Jon Murphy

    And that’s just what the brothers do. Daddy Koch, in the 20’s, took down the big oil monopolies by developing “cracking”, which made gasoline production so cheap small players could compete. He faced 44 lawsuits by the big companies, using everything from patient infringement to anti-trust laws to shut him out. He won all but one of them (and that one was later overturned because it was discovered the judge was bribed). US gasoline is some of the cheapest in the world because of the Kochs.

  4. The Koch’s are NOT conservative in their choices. Their last choice was Chris Christie, who is just an o’bama lapdog/pretender.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vOVAOMbVnU

    1. I hate the Left’s demonization of the Kochs, but I’m not exactly a big fan of their sponsorship of open borders lobbies and politicians:

      http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/05/10/Koch-Sponsors-Pro-Amnesty-BuzzFeed-Event

      1. Benjamin Cole

        Open borders, no minimum wage or child labor laws…it is to make life better for you, Ken.

        1. I live rent free in your dome. It’s cute that you can’t stop thinking about me.

    2. Governor Christie is one of those moderates we are all suppose to love. So even supporting moderates is no bad? I have to say – even with his views on global warming and being somewhat vindictive he would be much better as president than Obama

      1. Paul

        I hate the Left’s demonization of the Kochs, but I’m not exactly a big fan of their sponsorship of open borders lobbies and politicians:

        Maybe the Kochs understand that it’s not immigrants that are a problem, but the welfare state.

        1. Ron,

          The welfare state is a big problem and so are a big portion of the immigrants who only want it to enlarge it.

  5. Robert puharic

    Why should we be ‘grateful’ to people for making products that make them money? They should be grateful there are educated, law abiding Americans willing to let the Koch Bros and the right wing buy our political process while telling us how grateful we should be!

    Stop being such a puppy love hack for the rich, Perry. Economics isn’t a morality play to keep the peasants inline.

    1. Che is dead

      “One wonders, too, why Reid and his friends remain so quiet about campaign financing that doesn’t originate in Wichita, Kansas. The brothers’ “reach,” Alternet’s Adele M. Stan screamed in 2011, “is probably greater than you thought possible,” extending “into virtually every aspect of political, economic and physical life on the planet.”​ And yet, omnipresent as they are, the duo has not yet managed to corrupt Open Secrets, the non-partisan contribution tracker that rather inconveniently revealed last month that the Koch Brothers barely scrape into the list of the top sixty all-time political donors and, too, that of the 58 organizations that are ahead of them, 48 were described as being politically between “solidly Democrat” and “sitting on the fence”; that six of the top ten were unions; and that Democrats benefited disproportionately from all but two of the most prolific 20 contributors.” — National Review

      Of course, now that you know this you’ll never write the words “right-wing buying our political process” again, right?

      Isn’t that the value of an education?

    2. morganovich

      “Why should we be ‘grateful’ to people for making products that make them money?”

      because otherwise you would have no internet, airplanes, electricity, and would dress in uncured animal skins until you dies at 29 of a disease that is easily curable by modern medicine?

      no one is saying you owe them anyhting. you buy the product. you do so because you clue it at more than the price, so you win. they make money on it. they win.

      that’s it. no one owes anyone anyhting. but to be grateful (on both sides) for the existence of the system that allows such fruitful win/win exchange and for a buyer to be grateful for the efforts of a seller and a seller grateful for the interest of a buyer hardly seems an exotic concept.

      stop being such a luddite idiot robert.

      you should be grateful that a capitalist system exists that allows you such instant and broad access to products that make you life better and gives you the choice to decide which ones they are.

      you’re right, it’s not a morality play.

      it’s a discussion of what works and what does not and the importance of market discipline imposed by free choice and the value such choice creates.

      americans making consumer choices are not peasants.

      it’s what you take away the capitalist system and such choices that you create peasants.

      i do not think i have ever heard anyone with a higher vehemence to comprehension ratio than you have robbie.

      unshakable commitment to emotionally driven dogma that ignores all logic and evidence seems like very poor emulation of the scientific method.

      for a so called “scientist”, you seem to lack even a basic grasp of the scientific process.

      are you sure it does not say “custodial sciences” or some such euphemism on your job description.

    3. givemefreedom

      Puharic: Economics isn’t a morality play to keep the peasants inline.

      Was this supposed to mean something? support/explain your comments in a clear and logical way or don’t bother posting as we will not take you seriously.

      Dr. Perry has more compassion for the peasants as you call them than any liberal left wing supporter. That is because he thinks about the consequences of policies, not just their name or stated goals. In doing so he uncovers the actual affect of those actions to see if they do harm or good.

      I defy you to cite one example of where he is supporting a policy that harms the “peasants”. Economics is about understanding how the interaction between individuals works, something about which you have absolutely no idea. Dr. Perry understands it quite well.

    4. You act like you didn’t make money of the people from whom you’ve bought products. If you pay $10 for a book, you value that book at least $10. Likely, though, you value that book at a higher dollar value, say $11. In this example, YOU made $1 off the book producer.

      1. Bull! The vast majority of products I buy are not discretionary. They are necessary in order to carry on my life within the economy as it currently exists. Most are priced far higher than I value them. But, as necessities, I’m forced to pay whatever the market is asking. Nothing wrong with that, except when ownership of the means of production of these products is concentrated in too few hands.

        Economies of scale and other efficiencies that depend on scale begin to reach a point of diminishing returns long before the concentration of ownership and control represented by the Koch’s and their ilk is reached. The economy as a whole would benefit generally and for buyers, particularly if we didn’t have the concentration of ownership and control (and the market and political distortions it allowed and caused by it) that the Koch’s are the poster boys of.

        1. Bull! The vast majority of products I buy are not discretionary.

          First and foremost, this is crazily untrue. Secondly, even if what you’re saying is true (which it isn’t), it doesn’t contradict what I said.

          On my first point, the ONLY things you need are roughly 2000 calories of food and some water. Since these two things are widely available for everyone at a very low price, nearly everything you buy is discretionary.

          On my second point, even the food you buy, which I concede is non-discretionary, if you pay $5 for a happy meal at McDonald’s, you value that happy meal at more than $5, otherwise, you’d save that $5 to spend elsewhere. This statement is tautologically true.

          Most are priced far higher than I value them.

          You also, don’t buy most things. For the things you do value, by definition, if you buy them, you value that thing at at least the price you paid for it.

          To value X more than Y means that if you all ready have X and someone presents Y to you as a trade, you will not trade. Similarly, if you do not have X, but you do have Y, and someone offers to trade their X for your Y, you will trade. Thus if you have $5 and McDonald’s offers you a happy meal that you voluntarily trade the $5 for, by definition, you value that happy meal more than $5. This is true regardless of whether or not what you traded for was “discretionary” or not.

          I’m forced to pay whatever the market is asking

          This is patently false, as you don’t have to buy anything. That 2000 daily calories and water you need? You can go get them yourself. You can hunt, grow food, and find water all by your lonesome. So even for the non-discretionary items you need to have, you do not need to buy them. You can make them yourself.

          Since the rest of your comment is based on false premises, the rest of your comment is nonsense. Garbage in, garbage out.

      2. Bull! The vast majority of products I buy are not discretionary. They are necessary in order to carry on my life within the economy as it currently exists. Most are priced far higher than I value them. But, as necessities, I’m forced to pay whatever the market is asking. Nothing wrong with that, except when ownership of the means of production of these products is concentrated in too few hands.

        Economies of scale and other efficiencies that depend on scale begin to reach a point of diminishing returns long before the concentration of ownership and control represented by the Koch’s and their ilk is reached. The economy as a whole would benefit generally and for buyers, particularly if we didn’t have the concentration of ownership and control (and the market and political distortions it allowes and caused by it) that the Koch’s are the poster boys of.

        1. chuck martel

          You have the power to do something about that. Start your own oil company. Build a paper mill. Set up an airline. Those start somewhere.

        2. Steve

          Wow! Where to begin? Maybe if you had spent more time in school studying economics and less time studying axe grinding, you would write better comments on an econ blog.

          Bull! The vast majority of products I buy are not discretionary. They are necessary in order to carry on my life within the economy as it currently exists.

          That’s a totally subjective statement and can’t be debated. You might as well say “my favorite color is blue.” No one can disagree with that.

          Most are priced far higher than I value them.

          That is, by definition, false. Ken has already explained that to you. If you voluntarily trade something you have for something you don’t have, it’s because you value the thing you don’t have *more*, otherwise you wouldn’t make the exchange. When you travel to the store and exchange $50 for bag of groceries, it’s because you value the groceries more than the $50 – and your time and travel – or you would just stay home with your $50.

          But, as necessities, I’m forced to pay whatever the market is asking. Nothing wrong with that, except when ownership of the means of production of these products is concentrated in too few hands.

          Why would you assume that? Please explain why that’s a problem.

          Economies of scale and other efficiencies that depend on scale begin to reach a point of diminishing returns long before the concentration of ownership and control represented by the Koch’s and their ilk is reached. The economy as a whole would benefit generally and for buyers, particularly if we didn’t have the concentration of ownership and control (and the market and political distortions it allowes and caused by it) that the Koch’s are the poster boys of.

          Do you mean, for example that if KII didn’t own Georgia Pacific you wouldn’t be “forced” to pay such an outrageous price for Brawney paper towels? If lots of other companies made paper towels, would you have choices and lower prices due to competition?

          Oh wait…

          You might consider giving more thought to this subject before letting your fingers loose on the keyboard, if you want to be taken seriously.

        3. morganovich

          “The vast majority of products I buy are not discretionary.”

          absolute nonsense. pretty much all of them are discretionary. if you don’t like the price of a burger, have the chicken or maybe some pasta. you have a bewildering variety of products from innumerable sources to choose from in pretty much every consumption category.

          to pretend that you lack for choices in what you consume is so ridiculous i have no idea what to tell you. never in all of history have humans had so many readily available consumption choices.

          “Most are priced far higher than I value them.”

          more complete nonsense.

          if you routinely buy things for more than you value them, then you are a fool. there’s really no other way to say it.

          i suspect what you are really saying is that they cost more than you would PREFER to pay.

          hey, i’d love a $7 first class plane ticket to paris too. but that does not mean that i am likely to get one, that it would be reasonable to expect one, or that i would not value the ones for sale more than the actual prices being asked.

          this is just whiny incomprehension.

          “But, as necessities, I’m forced to pay whatever the market is asking. ”

          no, you aren’t. you are not even forced to buy food. you are free to starve. the fact that you do not PROVES that you value food at more than the price.

          i do not think you understand how this whole “value” thing works.

          “except when ownership of the means of production of these products is concentrated in too few hands. ”

          ahh, and here’s why. you appear to be using marxist concepts.

          that would sure do it.

          concentration and control?

          just what market do the koch boys have cornered where you do not have a half a dozen easy substitutes?

          now you are just making stuff up.

    5. Why should we be ‘grateful’ to people for making products that make them money?

      It’s just so easy, ain’t it Science Boy? Fat cats just turn the crank and gold coins fall out.

      How come you don’t give it a whirl?

    6. Seattle Sam

      I’m sort of confused here. If the Koch Brothers and the Right Wing have bought our political process, why does the left still have control of the Senate, the White House and the media? They should have gotten a receipt for the purchase.

      1. Jon Murphy

        For that matter, why do they pay the highest taxes? It seems to me that they are pretty shitty at buying the government…

  6. Benjamin Cole

    Angel soft toilet paper? I will think of the Kochs every time I see their used products…

  7. Citizen Buddy

    If you look at the portfolio of companies purchased by the bros Koch, you will see an array of voracious capital consumers.

    They are investing hundreds of millions in some old line names every year to increase efficiency and make better products.

    Leftists in the U.S. benefit in many ways from the Koch investments, but they(the left) are not informed nor are they inclined to be.

    1. Citizen Buddy

      How does Charles Koch measure the success of a company, thus reflected on his balance sheet?

      “The true measure of success is the ability to consistently commit resources efficiently that results in added value for society.”

      1. Jon Murphy

        Damn right

  8. J Chicosky

    http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/politics/article_f9da1ce2-acc7-11e3-82fc-001a4bcf887a.html

    2014 is gearing up to be a real battle for dems and pubs with some investors for both sides that appear to be pulling out the checkbook for advertising. I wonder if anyone has done studies on ROI for campaign money invested in either party. Just curious to see if they get more bang for the buck by party line? Notice AFP is 100X larger than unions in investing according to this data…

    1. Jon Murphy

      I know somebody did do a study along those lines. I can’t find it right now, but they concluded that money affects local races (state gov, state legislature, mayoral races), but has relatively little impact on federal races.

      1. It is clear that Karl Rove’s superpac last year had a negative ROI. It was pushing for Romney and failed. Perhaps it was Karl Rove, but that is one example of where spending lots of money did little good. (Rove raised 127million)

        1. Rove got paid millions.

          1. J Chicosky

            Not really a fan of Rove, over the years he has had a lot of money behind him, and is usually wrong on his political assumptions… Maybe it’s his damn white board that bothers me, but he appears to be very confident in what is usually the wrong direction for his candidate. I have often wondered if he is just someone that has dems and pubs (establishment types) pay him to be wrong while claiming to be on the right side of politics, but in some backroom somewhere he’s laughing it up as he redirects public opinion…

  9. John Dewey

    What I so much admire about the Koch family is their courage. They have been wealthy for decades. They could have done what most wealthy families have done and hide from the envy and wrath of liberals. Instead, the patriarch Fred Koch and his sons long ago publicly took up the free market, libertarian banner:

    – In 1958, Fred Koch was one of 12 founding members of the anti-communist and anti-socialist John Birch Society;

    – In 1960, Fred wrote the moderately influential book “A Businessman Looks at Communism”, which exposed the work of communists and socialists in the goals of the American Left;

    – In 1974, Charles Koch founded the Charles Koch Foundation, which he renamed the Cato Institute in 1976;

    – In 1980, Charles Koch was the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party;

    – For at least the past three decades, the Koch family has visibly and financially supported Republican politicians who believed in free markets and liberty.

    The Koch family did not hide from the wealth-envy of American progressives. They did not seek appeasement through sponsorship of liberal causes, as so many wealthy have done. On the contrary, since the 1950s, the Koch family has courageously used their resources to publicly support the cause of liberty. It is that support of liberty which has caused Progressives to hate them so much.

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