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Discussion: (206 comments)

  1. Nonsense. Scarcity is a man made condition. It is a n effect, not a cause. It is a condition, not a law.

    1. Oh boy, here we go. Hydra has begun keying his mobile device after taking his nightly medication.

      Scarcity, Hydra, doesn’t mean shortage, it just means there isn’t as much of something as everyone would like. It’s an economics term. Didn’t you say you studied economics? were you sick on the second day of econ 101 when the concept of scarcity was defined and explained?

      If nothing was scarce, there would be no trade, and nothing would have a price. Air is one of those few things that isn’t scarce. Nonsensical comments from you is another.

    2. Animals never die due to a scarcity of food? Plants never die due to a scarcity of water? Suns never die due to a scarcity of fuel? Man created all of these conditions?

      1. in order to have “scarcity”, there has to be a need – something must need the resource, right?

        1. morganovich

          no. there does not have to be a need, only a desire.

          no one needs a ducati motorcycle. some people want them.

          more people want them than can have/afford them, but the demand is there. lots of people would like to have one. more people would like to have one than do have one.

          however, ducatis are scare, so the price is high.

          that is the supply curve (driven by scarcity) hitting the demand curve and setting price and quantity consumed.

          this is literally first day of econ 101 stuff.

          i am astounded that people are somehow disputing this.

          what other state of the world could even be possible?

          1. morganovich

            in fact, as i think about it, there does not even need to be a desire for something, only a limited amount of it.

            anyhting whose supply is not infinite can be said to have scarcity.

          2. no one needs a ducati motorcycle.

            Say YOU! :)

            however, ducatis are scare….

            I love these kinds of typos.

          3. morganovich

            that sure sounds like WANT to me methinks…

            let’s face it, if you NEEDED one, you’d have one.

            :-P

          4. Morganovich

            no one needs a ducati motorcycle. some people want them.

            Well, you’re wrong about that one: I NEED a Ducati motorcycle. :)

          5. morganovich

            In fact, as i think about it, there does not even need to be a desire for something, only a limited amount of it.”

            I’m not so sure. I believe there is a fairly limited supply of nudibranch feces in the world, but I’m not aware of it ever being referred to as “scarce”.

    3. Nonsense. Scarcity is a man made condition“….

      Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

      No wonder states like California are beyond financially destitute…

  2. Citizen B.

    “Scarcity is a man made condition.”

    Hydra, please provide evidence for your statmemnt.

    1. it’s “man made” since man was made and has basic needs and desires.

      scarcity as a “man made” concept is ridiculous, but this is the only backing argument I could think of.

    2. Citizen B.

      “Buehler…Hydra…Buehler?”.

      1. re: ” Buehler…”

        the strict economic definition of “scarcity” implies that needs and wants are intellectually discerned and specific strategies and actions considered and taken to meet those needs/wants.

        animals don’t do much of that.

  3. Socal Bill

    One of my favorite quotes and so true. Tom Sowell is an inspiration.

  4. Definition of ‘Scarcity’
    The basic economic problem that arises because people have unlimited wants but resources are limited. Because of scarcity, various economic decisions must be made to allocate resources efficiently.

    Investopedia explains ‘Scarcity’
    When we talk of scarcity within an economic context, it refers to limited resources, not a lack of riches. These resources are the inputs of production: land, labor and capital.

    People must make choices between different items because the resources necessary to fulfill their wants are limited. These decisions are made by giving up (trading off) one want to satisfy another.

    but then as per his usual…Sowell goes off the trolley

    Politics is Governance – which in countries with representative government – the collective way to make allocation choices.

    this is not a radical concept. The vast, vast majority of the 200+ countries on the planet have some level of governance involved in the “scarcity” game and allocation of resources.

    a simple example… water/sewer… a “need”… clean water and sanitary living conditions is a “scarcity” that individuals cannot accomplish in the context of dense living conditions – so often the people agree to pitch in and each pay a share toward providing something they all need that they cannot accomplish by themselves. Public roads are another… fire and rescue, etc..

    that’s called governance, politics, if you will, and it has the potential to do much good (and bad) but there are things that government can do that individuals cannot unless they agree as a group to do something – and that is “politics”.

    And it is and should be a very important aspect of “economics”.

    1. “Politics is Governance – which in countries with representative government – the collective way to make allocation choices.”

      Politics is coercion and force used by one group to control another.

      Individuals make choices. Collective action is only the result of individuals acting the same way. Collective action is not a separate entity from the individuals acting (the forest is not another tree).

      Modern government (i.e., the state) is a fiction created by individuals wanting to legitimise their use of coercion and force to manipulate other individuals to their advantage.

      All state action is predicated by the unspoken statement “or I’ll kill you”.

      1. re: ” Politics is coercion and force used by one group to control another”

        so our Constitution requires the use of coercion and force
        and “killing” you if you do not comply?

        wow… who knew?

        how about something a little more reasonable and realistic guy?

        1. morganovich

          larry-

          that’s a bogus framing.

          our constitution does not REQUIRE coercion and force (except in preventing those things from being used upon others) but is does enable such things and is (and always has been) routinely used as a basis foe coercive force.

          the constitution permits the levying of taxes, correct?

          and what happens if you refuse to pay them?

          will the government use force and coercion upon you?

          yes, absolutely. you will be arrested, perhaps incarcerated and deprived of liberty against your will. if you resist, you will be forced by armed police officers.

          oh, and then, against your will, you property will be taken from you to pay this debt.

          what possible description could one use for that other than force and coercion?

          try committing treason )or someone else’s notion of treason to be more exact). this is not a crime against a specific person but against a nation and a document. what’s the penalty for treason larry? death.

          “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master”

          -george washington

          i’m not sure i go all the way to “or i’ll kill you” as geo does, but it certainly goes all the way to “or i will use armed coercive force to deprive you of liberty and property”

          of course, if you resist such attempts actively enough, it does come to “or i’ll kill you” doesn’t it? if you resist police with armed force, isn’t that precisely what will happen?

          1. what possible description could one use for that other than force and coercion?

            The word “theft” comes to mind.

          2. oh right.. all taxes are theft…

          3. i’m not sure i go all the way to “or i’ll kill you” as geo does, but it certainly goes all the way to “or i will use armed coercive force to deprive you of liberty and
            property

            Eighty two branch Davidians, including 17 children, formerly of Waco, Texas would probably Agree with George.

            They were killed by the FBI after the ATF was unable to serve a search warrant on them in 1993 due to armed resistance. The warrant was obtained in connection with the *alleged* possession of illegal weapons – illegal only because a required tax for such weapons hadn’t been paid. This was basically a tax collection issue.

          4. re: WACO… indeed…bad stuff happens…. and..it’s all due to govt and taxes…theft….

          5. re: WACO… indeed…bad stuff happens…. and..it’s all due to govt and taxes…theft….

            Do you have a different set of facts that don’t start with ATF serving a search warrant and end with the FBI killing 82 people?

          6. In fact it was pretty clear later that the primary purpose of the investigation into the Branch Davidians was an attempt to bust a cult of alleged child abusers and bigamists who also may have possessed illegal weapons, so as to improve the tarnished image of the ATF.

            Tarnished then, tarnished now. Some things never change.

          7. re: ” Branch Davidians”

            you don’t have to convince me.. it was a very wrongful act of govt – not that different from what vigilantes have done in the past or what we did in Iraq and Gitmo.

          8. And yet this woman is still walking around free, apparently above the law.

            By the way “we” haven’t done anything in Gitmo. I haven’t and I don’t believe you have. The government has done things against our wishes, things we haven’t voted on. Your President continues to keep Gitmo open, although he promised during his first campaign that he would close it on his first day in office.

          9. re: imprisoning people who are innocent without charges or a trial

            is… W R O N G and makes the use of the word coercion a joke.

            re: Obama’s “promise” – if it was up to only him Gitmo would have been closed for 4 years now.

            his mistake – promising something he could not make happen by himself.

            see: “read my lips” or ” WMD” or “I was out of the loop on IranContra” , etc, etc, et all.

          10. re: Obama’s “promise” – if it was up to only him Gitmo would have been closed for 4 years now.

            Obama, as Commander in Chief, can direct the military personnel at Gitmo to leave at any time. He hasn’t done so, although he obviously understands he has that ability because he sent military forces to Libya entirely on his own volition, WITHOUT any authority to do so. So, that argument doesn’t fly, Larry.

            his mistake – promising something he could not make happen by himself.

            He has done so much of that promising without anything actually happening that it’s impossible to believe anything he says. So it seemshe has made a LOT of mistakes.

            see: “read my lips” or ” WMD” or “I was out of the loop on IranContra” , etc, etc, et all.

            “They all do it” doesn’t excuse your boyfriend, Larry. We expect honesty and integrity in our Presidents, even though we don’t get it. Lying is Lying.

          11. re: ” We expect honesty and integrity in our Presidents, even though we don’t get it. Lying is Lying.”

            promises verses “I intend to accomplish this but I have to get approval from Congress to move the inmates to US prisons”.

            “promises” verses ” Sadaam has WMD and not we don’t torture people”

            “promises” verses ” Read my lips”

            or ” I was “out of the loop” on the illegal Iran Contra actions that ended up with my own staff people in jail”.

            why do you hold Obama to a different standard than those that preceded him?

          12. promises verses “I intend to accomplish this but I have to get approval from Congress to move the inmates to US prisons”.promises verses “I intend to accomplish this but I have to get approval from Congress to move the inmates to US prisons”.

            No he doesn’t need approval from Congress. Federal law enforcement is within the executive branch. The whole problem is that to move anyone to a US prison would require that they be charged with a crime. The current ongoing pretense is that the US can imprison people indefinitely without charges on foreign soil. There is absolutely no Constitutional authority to do so. The Constitution refers to “persons” and makes no distinction as to where they are, so your boyfriend, like his predecessor, is in violation of the law.

            The bottom line is that the President could end the illegal incarcerations at Gitmo if he wanted to, but there are political – not legal – reasons that keep him from doing so.

            The Congress could close Gitmo by withholding funding, which is the exclusive domain of the House of Representatives, but they haven’t done so.

            The correct action would be to either charge those detainees under federal law or release them.

            “promises” verses ” Sadaam has WMD and not we don’t torture people”

            “promises” verses ” Read my lips”

            or ” I was “out of the loop” on the illegal Iran Contra actions that ended up with my own staff people in jail”.

            why do you hold Obama to a different standard than those that preceded him?

            I don’t. I have objected to each of those previous failures by Obama’s predecessors, but they are long gone, and can no longer make any difference. Your boy is the only President who can act now, so it’s your boy in the hot-seat.

          13. do you read?

            ” President Obama made clear during his reelection run that he was still interested in closing Guantanamo Bay, something he has been promising since his first presidential campaign. In an interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show last month, Obama reiterated that agenda: “I still want to close Guantanamo,” he said, according to a media pool report, but “we haven’t been able to get that through Congress.”

            After the 2008 election, Obama ordered that Gitmo be closed and that detainees be sent to Thomson Correctional Center — a nearly empty prison in Illinois that the president had handpicked. However, in 2010, Congress drafted language that banned the transfer of those prisoners from overseas to America and added it to the Defense Authorization Act.”

            http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/item/13793-senate-votes-against-xfer-of-gitmo-detainees

          14. do you read?

            Why yes, Larry, I DO read, but you apparently don’t. What you seem to have missed is that Obama wanted to move uncharged detainees to US soil, thereby giving up even the pretense that people could be held indefinately on foreign soil.

            The important issue is whether people can be held by government forever without charging them with a crime. The correct answer is obviously NO. Where they are held is of secondary importance. Moving them to Illinois clearly requires that they be charged with crimes. Obama has cleverly made it appear that Congress is in the way, thus getting him off the hook, but it’s the Constitution and well established common law that is in his way, not Congress. It’s called “politics”, Larry.

            The correct choice is to charge them or release them immediately.

            Obama’s organization known as the Dept. of Justice obviously has a great deal of discretion, as they chose NOT to prosecute Black Panther members who very clearly intimidated voters during the 2010 elections.

            The trouble with the folks at Gitmo, is it’s not clear they have committed any crimes, although they are no doubt unpleasant characters. That isn’t yet a crime.

          15. this is Obama “cleverly” making it look like…..

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/4/obama-veto-possible-over-guantanamo/

            I swear. You boys are bound and determined to believe what you wish no matter the reality.

            how in the world do you actually live in the real world when you deny so many aspects of it?

            it’s bizarre.

          16. this is Obama “cleverly” making it look like…..

            Politics, Larry. Didn’t I just explain this to you in the previous comment? It doesn’t matter how many times Obama says he wants to move Gitmo detainees, and how many times the Congress says no. It is not legal now to detain people indefinitely and it certainly wouldn’t be legal to detain them on US soil.

            Seeing from your reference that the Senate passed their version of the bill 98-0, threatening a veto is a pretty hollow gesture, don’t you think?

            What do YOU think should happen to the detainees at Gitmo? Should they be charged, or released, or just shot & be done with it? Janet Reno has some experience with that sort of thing, and might be the best man for the job.

          17. Ron – you do not ‘explain’ anything. you blather out your backside …to no particular effect other than to reveal your pomposity and condescending attitude.

            in terms of Obama breaking his promise – it was EXPLAINED to you that Congress played a very large role in that promise not getting met and you blather.

            what to do with people who have been arrested, held in secret, tortured and not charged.

            try to do what Obama promised if you can.

            remember it took more than Bush to create this problem and with Bush gone – there are still too many in Congress to do the right thing.

            we likely agree on most of this.

          18. what to do with people who have been arrested, held in secret, tortured and not charged.

            try to do what Obama promised if you can.

            Why not just release them? Obama could certainly do that, as he’s the one holding them. That would be another “right thing”.

            He could also charge them with crimes. Federal prosecutors work for him.

            Congress is only an obstacle to bringing detainees who haven’t been charged to the US. Obama holds all the other cards.

            Charge them or release them. It’s that simple. Why won’t he do it?

          19. I believe he has released some, and charged some, and other others to go to military commission trial.

            there is a honest issue of whether they should be tried in US courts or not or in Military Commissions but the idea that if they are not on “official” US soil that US laws do not apply is totally bogus especially if the only other choice would be the laws of the country the US facility is in. The choice Bush and company chose was neither – they make up their own laws as they go along.

            Wild, Wild west justice for those who have “Natural Rights’. Ironic, eh?

            but there are a number of neocon types in Congress that basically subscribe to the Bush Admin perspective that secret detention and torture are valid tools against ‘terrorists’ – never mind the difference between being accused of being one vs convicted in court of being one.

            Obama has made a point of saying he does not approve of that approach but his opponents use his defense of rights of people as a sign of “weakness” and incompetence in dealing with bad guys.

            this is what is behind the Bengazi deal. Those folks think it was an incompetent administration that caused the deaths and that Al Qaeda and other terrorist see his responses as weak and inviting more attacks.

            Never mind that there have been more than a dozen similar type attacks on 4 different prior POTUS – they were not considered incompetent or weak just unlucky.

            The NeoCons see the closing of Gitmo as a weakening of the commitment of the US to track down and capture bad guys and deal with them in some way that does not recognize them as having basic human rights – by judging them to be terrorists who have done bad stuff – without evidence and without a trial to convict.

      2. ““Politics is Governance – which in countries with representative government – the collective way to make allocation choices.”

        Politics is coercion and force used by one group to control another. ”

        Indeed, governance is coercion and force used by one group to control another.

        Democracy, both direct and representative, is a submission and compromise on the part of the public to elect who is believed to be the lesser of two evils by the majority. If you don’t like it, you must live with it. Even if you do like it, you cannot have the satisfaction of self governance.

        While this may SOUND like a radical principal promating anarchy, I am merely saying that Economics and the natural action of trading as is required exists without governance. Economics IS. Politics is the method of controlling or stopping the natural force of the market that sustains us on threat of death or imprisonment. Politics IS force. Like it or not.

      3. Jon Murphy

        Well, hang on here. Larry’s not wrong when he talks about the government being a collective source of allocation (but so are markets). However, neither is Sowell wrong.

        The idea of scarcity is that, when resources are committed in one place, they are not available for use in another. For example, with every person employed in manufacturing, there are less people to work on farms. Markets allocate resources based upon prices. When the need for additional resources in one area rises, its price will rise. This does two things: 1) it forces the users of the resource to reconsider how they will use it and 2) it attracts more of that resource to the area. For example, if there was a massive uptick in the production of automobiles, then the price of steel would rise. This would cause auto manufacturers to explore other options (maybe plastic?) but also spur steel mills to produce more steel. Therefore, the resources (land, labor, capital) are directed away from less useful activities (say, making tin) and towards more useful activities (making steel).

        Governments tend to ignore prices, or at least pretend they don’t matter. They also love to assume an “everything else stays the same” analysis. Because of this, governments tend to think they can have their cake and eat it too. Government policies can lead to shortages (think gas lines in the 70’s) or surpluses (the housing market). They can lead to under-allocation of resources (think elementary & secondary education) or over-allocation of resources (think the military). When resources are committed not based upon efficiency but rather desire, it leads to a lower standard of living and less productive economic activity. World War II is my favorite example of this: the government diverted resources away from the making of consumer goods and put it towards the war effort. Because of this, standards of living fell to below Great Depression levels as people were forced to ration everything (one could argue this was necessary as the war was necessary, but the point remains). Another example is The Great Leap Forward in China in the 1960’s. Chairman Mao ordered as much steel as possible to be produced and devoted massive amounts of resources to accomplishing this task. People left the fields to smelt their materials, and as a result millions of people starved. The infamous Soviet bread lines are another example (as an old Soviet friend of mine likes to say “The winters were cold, I had plenty of gold, but I was standing in line for a loaf of bread). Now, these are rather extreme examples, but they demonstrate the point Sowell was making. There are other, more subtle examples one could use (housing bubble, health care bubble, higher education bubble, energy bubble, world hunger).

        When left alone, markets tend to allocate resources as efficiently as possible so that the production of goods and services match up with what people desire. Government allocation tends to lead to a mismatch of production and desires.

        1. morganovich

          jon-

          this seems like a real semantic morass you have waded into. by this logic, armed gangs of thugs are also a collective source of allocation.

          the key issue you seem to be leaving out here is the degree of coercion. if a grow some apples and you freely decide to trade me a book for them, that is one thing.

          if i grow apples and you and ron vote that i have to give you some or be arrested, that’s another.

          such a policy is far more akin to you and ron grabbing ski masks and guns and taking my apples than to free trade.

          all the issues you cite around misallocation and poor planning are absolutely true, but, i think, pale in comparison to the issues around coercive/non coercive from which these other misuse issues all derive.

          1. Jon Murphy

            Oh, sure, Morganovich, the degree of coercion is a factor as well. But the oligarchy of thugs you describe is also a method for allocating resources.

            “Collective”, I assume here, refers to society. Therefore, all forms of allocation are “collective” as they all involve society’s resources. Whether or not that involves central planning, free markets, or thuggery doesn’t really matter. Of course, there are preferred methods of allocation (for you and I it is free-markets, for others it is thuggery), but methods these still are.

            All that said, I would argue that free markets are the most “collective” method of all. Free markets begin on the foundation that society, not the government, own the resources. Society then reallocates the resources to where they are needed as members of the society trade with each other, therefore strengthening the members and society as a whole.

            I would also argue that a free market society is most meritorious.

            Free markets are a meritocracy. Those who use their resources most productively (that is, providing what others demand) are rewarded. Those who use their resources less productively are not as well rewarded. Now, one could argue this is not always the case. Of course there are some con-men in the system, but every system has that. Do Soviet commissars reward merit? Are the members of the President’s cabinet chosen on merit? How about the members of various House and Senate committees? The difference is, in a system that is predicated on serving men (which free markets are), those who con are ultimately destroyed (Bernie Maddoff). As a final example, let’s look at the Forbes 10 richest people in America: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Charles & David Koch (diversified), the Walton Family (Alice, Christy, Jim, and Robson; Walmart) and Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP). Every single one of them made their money by providing services or goods to their fellow men, whether it be technology, low-cost consumer goods, investment capital, or news and information. None of these are shifters who conned their way to the top. Can the same thing be said about our political system? Or a Soviet-style economy? Of course not.

          2. morganovich

            i would disagree with you there jon.

            free markets are not collective. they are associative.

            if you and i decide to trade in a free market, we can do so irrespective of the collective. they need have no bearing on us at all. it is precisely this feature than makes markets non coercive.

            government does not work like that (though perhaps armed thugs do).

            neither thugs not free trade must engage the society as a whole, but government must.

            so i’m not really sure i understand how you are stacking this hierarchy.

            inclusive in terms of reach is not the same thing as collective.

            maybe we are just missing on semantics here, but i really do not understand where you are coming from.

          3. When the Constitution designs governance that is representative of the majority voting – and taxes are Constitutionally allowed… then you have the means to levy taxes and spend them for a purpose.

            Calling this coercive – as if it is wrong – is silly.

            basically when we say that the government does not have to allocate resources that the market can but the Constitution specifically allows the govt to do that –

            the “coercive” message is essentially anti-govt and anti-Constitution.

            You can say the govt is “coercive” but it is Constitutional also.

          4. Jon Murphy

            Let me try to rephrase. If this does not work, then I may need to retreat and come up with a better explanation (after all, a failure to communicate is the fault of the presenter, not the listener).

            What I understood the objections of Larry and Zach to be is that a free market does not care about society(aka the collective), and that only government can allocate resources in society’s best interest. They said there is this collective pile of resources, and they need to be allocated. Only government can do that.

            I dissented. I concur that this is a collective pile of resources (that is such a vulgar term, and I apologize for it): the land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurial spirit that makes up the collective economy. The question is “how are the collective resources allocated so they are most efficient at producing the goods and services people want/need/desire?” Government allocation is one method of achieving this goal. Free markets is another. Thuggery is a third.

            Does that make sense, or am I just going round in circles?

          5. re: the free market “caring” for people.

            the free market is brutally agnostic… right?

            what I was saying was that if a bunch of people live in a town and decide they need a sanitary sewer so they don’t all die from disease …that…

            1. -they vote to build the sewer
            2. – in that vote, they say the cost will be divided up
            among everyone.

            3. – if you are outvoted – then you can leave or you can pay and complain.. claim you have been “coerced”.

            but when people within an area decide as a group that they will pursue some purpose – and they will do so by vote – then that is governance.

            some will say the free market could have done it and they’d be correct – but – for instance, the free market would have had to pay outrageous prices to put pipe in front of the house that the guy voted against it.

            same thing with public roads or for that matter any corridor that is a “public right of way” that allows roads, water, sewer, electricity, gas, etc.

            just because the market “could” provide does not rule out the other option of people deciding as a group to do it.

          6. morganovich

            no larry.

            you have completely missed the boat here.

            the entire point of government IS that it is coercive. to deny such is preposterous.

            never did i agree to pay us taxes. at no point did anyone ask me if i would agree to do so. but, if i do not, i will be arrested and have my property taken, even if i leave the US, itself a privilege for which i must pay. (giving up us citizenship is taxable)

            that is coercive, pure and simple.

            you then veer off into goal post moving about “right” whatever it is you deem that to mean.

            and this:

            “but when people within an area decide as a group that they will pursue some purpose – and they will do so by vote – then that is governance.”

            is circular thinking and bad logic. replace the word “governance” with “coercion” and it’s a truer statement.

            consider what you are saying. if jon and you and i vote and jon and i decide that you need to stop making such claims about governance or be jailed, would you consider that coercive? what if we were a democratic society? oh, you did not ask/agree to join? were you asked to join the united states? did you agree? if you did not, would you be free not to pay FICA?

            your statement is baseless and circular with regard to coercion.

            you are just finessing the issue.

            even if the choice were purely “pay or leave” as you set out (which it is not) that is STILL coercive.

            either you pay, or you must stop living where you chose to. which of those is a non coercive act?

            what does constitutional have to do with coercive? i already said in very simple language that “our constitution does not REQUIRE coercion and force (except in preventing those things from being used upon others) but is does enable such things and is (and always has been) routinely used as a basis foe coercive force.”

            we could have a sharia constitution too. this would render many additional forms of coercion legal including the killing of a wife for adultery. that would be constitutional too. so what?

            you have actually just conceded that jon and i are right.

            the Constitution lays out a framework for government coercion. that is what it is for. the genius of our constitution is that it severely limited such coercion and established inalienable rights for individuals to do so.

            that makes it less coercive than, say, a king with divine right or a sharia law constitution, but it does not make our government (even if constitutional) non coercive.

          7. well we AGREE that govt is Coercive but it’s also Constitutional and it also works by majority vote so you do get “asked”.

            I do not see where the Constitution limits the power to tax “coercively” … the limit is how much people will allow their elected leaders to do – on majority votes.

          8. morganovich

            “the free market is brutally agnostic… right?”

            no. the free market care a great deal. are you telling me you do not care with whom of for what you trade?

            the free market cares about mutually beneficial trades. for you to trade me a SF giants cap for a yankess cap, we must both desire the other object more than the one we trade for and therefore be better off.

            that is nothing like brutally agnostic. that is a filter that assured that only trades that make both parties better off occur.

            government asset allocation does not do that. after all, if a trade were already mutually beneficial, why do we need government to make it happen?

            we are then left with government making assumptions (even if it has the best of intentions) about which is cannot possibly have enough information to be right or (more likely) with majorities ganging up on minorities to enrich themselves that the expense of another or special interests (like, say, sugar growers) buying politicians and getting them to impose a dead weight loss upon the entire society for their narrow benefit.

            a free market would never put up with the societal loss of a sugar tariff. government does this sort of thing all the time.

            so which one is protecting the society and which engaged in nepotism?

          9. morganovich

            jon-

            i think you are just going around in circles a bit.

            i think i see the source of our inability to understand one another though:

            if we replace “collective” as a modifier to pile of resources with “aggregate” then i think we can get past this semantic issue.

            to my mind, collective seem to imply that somehow they belong to all of us AS a collective whereas using aggregate seems to imply that we own them individually and that we are just adding them up for the sake of discussion.

            perhaps i spend too much time studying philosophy and have become to accustomed to using very specific words defined in very specific ways and have been reading more into your word choices than they were intended to convey.

          10. morganovich

            larry-

            being asked is not enough to avoid being called coercive.

            if jon and i mug you in an alley but “ask” you to give us your wallet and you do for fear of what we might do with the big sticks we are holding, that’s democratic and fine, right? the majority asked you. would you feel coerced?

            to be non coercive, asking is not a sufficient condition. you must actually be able to say “no” without force then being used upon you.

          11. re: coercion by Constitution.

            that’s says it all Morg.

            it’s Constitutionally approved…

            ;-)

            and the Constitution CAN be amended if you think it is wrong – but it would take a majority.

            ;-)

          12. morganovich

            “re: coercion by Constitution.

            that’s says it all Morg.

            it’s Constitutionally approved…”

            no larry. that says nothing. it merely demonstrates once more you inability to avoid the logical fallacy of appeal to practice.

            the constitution used to permit slavery and deny women the vote too.

            so those were OK?

            the coercion of slavery is fine so long as it’s “constitutionally approved”?

            to you ever get tired of making this same bad argument over and over?

            i get quite tired of dealing with it. it’s just bottomless circular illogic. history has shown me that there is no way to durably demonstrate to you that your thought process here is pure fallacy, so i’m going to end this conversation as there is no point once you get this “appeal to practice” bit in your teeth.

            once more i urge you to read this until you understand it:

            http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/43-appeal-to-tradition

            until you do, you are not going to be able to grasp this discussion and why the arguments you are making have no valid bearing on it.

      4. The first lesson of libertarianism is:

        Scream that your rights are being violated ever time a public policy decision goes the way you don’t want it to.

        I don’t think it is a scandal that the state has a near monopoly on the legitimate use force. That is a form of emergent order that is a lot better than what came before it – settling disputes by private violence.

        1. Jon Murphy

          I don’t think it is a scandal that the state has a near monopoly on the legitimate use force. That is a form of emergent order that is a lot better than what came before it – settling disputes by private violence.

          So, public violence is somehow preferable to private violence? You’ll forgive me, Greg, if I do not believe that genocide is somehow preferable to a family feud.

        2. Jon Murphy

          Forgive me for picking on you, Greg, but I am actually glad you brought this up.

          I don’t understand the logic here: “Mankind is violent, so we need to use violence to protect man from his violent tendencies.”

          Contrary to popular belief, mankind is not naturally violent. Men live in peace with their neighbors constantly. Sure, they may be a scuffle or two, but it is almost always limited and is definitely the exception, not the rule. With the exception of sociopaths, humans recognize other people’s right to live and their right to what they have. The vast majority of people are good people. Because there is a small minority who do commit violence does not translate into the steady state of humanity. It is rather illogical to reach that conclusion, actually.

          A monopoly on force is just like any other kind of monopoly. It can be used for good (crime prevention) or evil (genocide). More often than not, it is used for evil.

          You can debate me on this, I don;t care. But I will say this:

          Anarchists have never slain millions of their own people though death camps or starvation. Anarchists have never started a world war. Anarchists have never dropped a nuclear bomb on a city.

          The burden of proof is on the government. Governments have done a terrible job proving their case thus far.

          1. Jon

            I’m not sure how you were able to construe a preference for constitutional democracy to a state of anarchy as an endorsement of genocide. That was quite a leap.

            Your idea of humans as basically benevolent and its implied prehistory of noble savages living in peace has been thoroughly debunked by archeologists. A much higher percentage of people died violently in prehistoric times and in hunter gatherer societies. Tribal warfare has always been far more likely to end in genocide than warfare between governments. The issue is how best to minimize violence and coercion.

            There was a significant anarchist terrorist movement in this country at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

          2. Jon Murphy

            A monopoly on force is a monopoly of force.

            Our constitutional democracy has committed genocide (The Trail of Tears comes readily to mind), imprisoned citizens because they looked different from us (Japanese Internment Camps), arrested millions more because they choose a different lifestyle from us (drug users), denied people’s basic rights based on sexual preference (GBLT community) and skin color (slavery and interracial marriage). Our constitutional democracy seizes people’s property without warrant and without compensation (a clear violation of the Constitution, I might add). Our constitutional democracy has thrown people in prison for dissent (Alien & Sedition Act, Patriot Act), and dictates to consumers what they can and cannot buy (trade policies).

            All this comes from a monopoly on force. Any monopoly will result in abuse. It is for these reasons and countless more that I oppose the government’s monopoly on force. They don’t “keep the peace.” They perpetuate war.

            There was a significant anarchist terrorist movement in this country at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

            Right, because the assassination of President McKinley is clearly equal to the Firebombing of Dresden.

          3. OK Jon, you are a big advocate of emergent order. Where are all the anarchist societies that should have already emerged if they really had a superior solution to the world’s problems?

            And which if any of the real world political systems are best? I agree that none can compete with a fantasy state.

          4. morganovich

            greg-

            “OK Jon, you are a big advocate of emergent order. Where are all the anarchist societies that should have already emerged if they really had a superior solution to the world’s problems?”

            this is an invalid argument. it’s a form of logical fallacy.

            one could have made the exact same argument about constitutional government 1000 years ago. all the great nations have kings, you might say. if constitutions and individual rights are such a great idea, why does no great nation have one?

            i actually agree with you regarding the fact that anarchy is unlikely to work as a form of government and that the issues it creates are likely to be greater than the benefits when compared to a libertarian society, but the argument you just made is completely invalid as evidence for such a claim.

            “all the great nations (allow slavery/forbid female suffrage/have a king/engage in protectionist tariffs)” were true statements at some point. they said nothing about if that would change or if such a change was desirable.

          5. morganovich

            Of course it is true that every great advance in human history created something new that didn’t exist before. That is also the defense the Marxists used right to the end.

            In a world where there are no pure forms, history has furnished us with a lot of examples of places with more or less government. Before the Europeans arrived, North America was filled with societies with very minimal government. By all accounts these tribes were brutal, violent and eager to steal each others stuff.

            When the examples of improved institutions that you cited were first formed they took root and grew and became pervasive. Why has that not happened with relatively more libertarian or anarchistic experiments?

          6. question: who is supposed to protect your natural rights?

            you? someone else? who?

          7. Greg Says:

            OK Jon, you are a big advocate of emergent order. Where are all the anarchist societies that should have already emerged if they really had a superior solution to the world’s problems?

            Yeah, Jon, name the top three countries in the world that are anarchies.

            Oh wait – where have I heard that fallacy before?

          8. re: name the….

            is not a “fallacy”.

            it’s basically asking to give some real world examples of what you say is the correct, right way to do things.

            the fact that you can’t or won’t indicates that what you are advocating may well be a logical fallacy.

            but thanks for playing….

          9. “Question. Who is supposed to protect your natural rights?”

            Your first answer is correct. You are ultimately responsible for the defense of your life and your liberty. The State and/or your neighbors may choose to help you in your defense, but it is still your life and leaving it to others to defend it for you leaves it in the hands of people who do not care about the outcome as much as you do.

          10. re: who is responsible for protecting you natural rights?

            good answer!

            and I’m sure ya’ll will agree that even in your own view, ya’ll are doing one shitty job at it, right?

          11. it’s basically asking to give some real world examples of what you say is the correct, right way to do things.

            Appeal to custom is a logical fallacy, Larry, I know you’ve been given links to information on that many times, so I won’t bother to do it again.

          12. re: appeal to custom

            asking you for some current day real examples of what you advocate for is not “custom” nor a “logical fallacy” guy.

            it’s asking you to provide real examples for your arguments.

          13. RE: one shitty job at it.

            Better at some than at others, Larry. Come through my front door uninvited and you’ll find that I’m doing OK at that. But I do understand that The State is better armed than I am, so I need to fight the socialist Regressivism that you advocate, and that The State covets, through persuasion rather than armed insurrection. But it’s hard to convince people who receive ObamaPhones that Santa Claus is a fictitious character.

        3. morganovich

          greg-

          many libertarians do not even disagree that government ought to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

          you are making a false argument and using a form of obfuscation to mask the straw man you have erected.

          the issue is not about the monopoly on legitimate use of force. the issue is about what constitutes a legitimate use of force.

          in the libertarian view, such use is legitimate only in the protection of the rights of the individual.

          thus, violence to arrest a killer or a mugger is justified, but violence against, say, a peaceful individual who wished to cultivate and smoke certain plants on him own private property is not.

          you are mistaking the argument here. what you describe as railing against “public policy” is, in fact, an attempt to defend the rights of peaceful people from threats of coercion/violence that is not viewed as legitimate (or desirable).

          it’s clear you do not understand the philosophy you presume to criticize and that you have several issue (including monopoly vs legitimate) confused.

          under sharia law, a woman who is raped can be put to death for it. would you consider that a legitimate use of force?

          why not?

          it’s the law. it may even have been democratically imposed.

          so why does such a thing seem illegitimate to you? ( i presume it does)

          it’s because of rights. you have a notion that she should have a right to the sanctity of her person.

          i presume you would be similarly offended if our government shot political protesters for disagreeing with it.

          would you change you mind if 80% of voters supported the shooting?

          so, it would appear that you believe in rights, and likely even their primacy over democracy. so why is it you find it so difficult to imagine that a consistent political philosophy can be based upon the view that the proper role of government is to protect the rights of the individual and to enforce contracts?

          it seems to me that your critique of libertarian thought is based on misunderstanding and internally inconsistent thinking.

          1. re: ” issue is about what constitutes a legitimate use of force.”

            agree with that.

            but it’s also in the eye of the beholder and in a situation where you have boundaries and voting governance, that affects who decides what is “legitimate”.

          2. morganovich

            I agree with most of what you wrote there. The more interesting problems come when you drill down and get to specifics about the rights of the individual in particular cases. Then you will find that reasonable even people will disagree. Even libertarians will disagree with each other on some issues.

            So how do we best minimize violence and coercion while settling these disputes? I think the great strength of constitutional democracy is that it does that and it cannot do that if it is not regarded as legitimate by most people. I am certainly not arguing that constitutional democracy always gets it right. But at least it gives you another bite at the apple when it gets it wrong.

            If a constitutional democracy instituted sharia law I would view that a morally illegitimate but legally legitimate result that everyone should work hard to overturn. We had slavery for quite some time in this country. I am glad we didn’t conclude from that that anarchism was preferable to constitutional democracy.

          3. morganovich

            “but it’s also in the eye of the beholder and in a situation where you have boundaries and voting governance, that affects who decides what is “legitimate”.”

            and this is where we irretrievably diverge. i do not think it matters one whit what the majority thinks. if 51% agree that women who have sex out of wedlock be stoned to death, would that make it legitimate in your eyes?

            what if 70% agreed that speech against the government is treason?

            i find your notions of democracy as the ultimate arbiter of what rights are legitimate to be flawed and abhorrent.

            rights must exist above the power of the demos to truly be inalienable rights. our constitution is imperfect in this respect as they could theoretically be changed. we could, theoretically, pass an amendment that abrogates the US constitution entirely and replaces it with sharia law and a president for life.

            i suspect that we agree that such a thing is unlikely and spend little time worrying about it.

            the difference is that you view such malleability as a feature and i view it as a flaw.

            rights need to be inviolate, inalienable, and universal or they are not truly natural rights.

          4. re: ” rights need to be inviolate, inalienable, and universal or they are not truly natural rights”

            “natural rights” NOT articulated in the Constitution are then “interpreted” by law-makers and SCOTUS.

            right?

            I mean Morg.. that IS the reality all around us.

            we can disagree with it – but it is what it is.

          5. Jon Murphy

            Boy, what a difference a day makes.

            Yesterday, I was in a “moderator” mood. Today I’m in my “DOWN WITH THE GOVERNMENT” anarchy mood. It must be Friday

          6. in a Representative government, governance is decided “collectively” – called voting.

            when you do have a Constitutional government that is elected – people do decide what level of resource allocation they want the government to do (or not).

            that’s the way this country was explicitly designed.

            where we disagree is on what the Constitution “meant” and all I say is that if something can be done that is not denied by the Constitution.. it’s hard to decide what “limit” means.

          7. morganovich

            greg-

            i’m not sure i understand the distinctions you seem to be trying to draw.

            are you intending to imply that somehow constitutional government and libertarian government are incompatible?

            i think nothing could be farther from the truth.

            i agree that we ought to try to maximize liberty, minimize coercion and violence, and provide rapid, fair, predictable dispute resolution.

            that is why i AM a libertarian.

            oddly, for someone who began this discussion railing against them, you sound like one too.

            if we establish a constitution that sets out the rights of the individual (and by this i mean natural rights, not bogus rights like “a right to healthcare” that requires the coercion of others.) and sets them eternally above democratic review and then derive from them a body of law based upon 2 basic precepts:

            1. do not violate the rights or others or harm them or their property.

            2. perform that which you have promised.

            you have a simple, constitutional libertarian system of government.

            has the US constitution exempted the bill of rights from revision and applied to all men and women, it would have been quite close to this if we struck out a few sections.

            so i’m not really sure what you are driving at here.

            also:

            if the purpose of law is to be moral (protect rights, etc) than how can a law be morally illegitimate yet legally legitimate.

            i can see saying that the law might be legally enforced, but i do not see how a law can be said to be legally legitimate and immoral at the same time.

          8. Jon Murphy

            “natural rights” NOT articulated in the Constitution are then “interpreted” by law-makers and SCOTUS.

            right?

            Natural rights are not articulated in the Constitution for two reasons:

            1) Natural rights do not come from government
            and
            2) The Constitution is a list of the powers government has, not a list of the rights citizens have.

          9. 1) Natural rights do not come from government
            and
            2) The Constitution is a list of the powers government has, not a list of the rights citizens have.

            the Constitution defines your rights that the govt will protect.

            otherwise you’re on your own.

          10. morganovich

            ““natural rights” NOT articulated in the Constitution are then “interpreted” by law-makers and SCOTUS.”

            no.

            this is completely wrong in virtually every respect.

            law makers do not interpret rights. that is not their task.

            the courts exist to protect our rights from others (including lawmakers) when they overstep and adjudicate disputes in such cases as one right conflicts with another.

            and precisely what are these “natural rights not articulated in a constitution”. are you claiming that lawmakers and courts have the power to create rights?

            your thinking here seems very muddled and backwards.

            a government derives its just authority from its defense of the rights of its citizens. it does not exist to make them up and to tell us what they are.

            then you veer into the logical fallacy of appeal to practice. we were discussing what government should be, what it out to be, how we should aspire to have government work.

            you then try to use claims about what US government IS in order to attempt to make a point. but that has zero bearing on the discussion. just because it IS does not make it perfect, good, right, or anyhting else other than extant.

            what is the consistent attraction of this fallacy for you larry? do you really believe that just because something does not currently exist that it should not, could not, and would not be better if it did? that’s the implication of this appeal to practice fallacy you use so consistently.

          11. Jon Murphy

            he Constitution defines your rights that the govt will protect.

            No it doesn’t. The Constitution defines the powers the government has. That is all. Article 1: “Congress shall have the power to…” Article 2: “The President shal have the power to…” Article 3: “The Supreme Court shall have the power to…” Finally, the Constitution talks about how none of these powers shall be construed to limit individual freedoms.

            The Bill of Rights was created to put any doubts of this to rest: Amendments 1-9 talk about “Congress shall NOT…” Amendment 10 is the final nail: All powers not granted to the Federal Government by this Constitution are reserved to the people.

            If, as you say, our rights come from the Constitution, then things like unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, property protection, etc., are all unconstitutional. No where does the Constitution guarantee the right to medical care, or jobs, or wages, or property.

            The reason why rights are not written in is because they were, as the founding fathers called them, unalienable (rights could not be denied). They were endowed by God, or Nature, or whoever and, simply by existing, you were entitled to these rights. They did not come from some political edict.

            Our rights are endowed merely by our existence, not at the whim of some government.

            The difference between a free man and a slave is a free man knows his rights come from nature. A slave knows his rights come from his master.

          12. morganovich

            I think we are talking past each other a bit here because I am more focused on the decision making process and you are more focused on the specific decisions. This difference has even deeper roots. You seem to trace your rights to some kind of Platonic metaphysical reality. I believe in Darwinian evolution. It follows from that that I believe our rights have evolved and continue to. There was a time when virtually all serious people thought slavery was legitimate. I think our rights come from our ability to claim them and build institutions that support them. Our rights also come from the consciences that evolution has equipped us with to navigate as social beings.

            When you say you want to protect everyone’s legitimate rights that is fine but all the interesting questions are buried within defining what are legitimate rights and what happens when legitimate rights clash.

            A constitutional democracy could be a lot more libertarian than the one we have now. On most social issues and on foreign policy issues I wish it was. On economic issues I would disagree with you – and with left libertarians as well. But I think our specific disagreements are less interesting than the question of how they should be decided.

          13. morganovich

            greg-

            in fact, what you are saying is that you do not believe in rights, at least not inalienable humans rights and are, in fact, a moral relativist. if rights are subject to social fashion, then they are no rights at all. they are temporary fiat granted by a coercive collective who grants them to you and can take them away at whim.

            evolution does not carry with it any connotations of rightness or movement towards, only movement in response to. evolution also does not always mean better. many species evolved themselves to unfitness and death.

            thus, such a process seems like a very poor way to govern a society.

            rights are not metaphysical inventions. they are natural laws that are discovered in the way the the law of gravity is discovered and result in a system that works.

            we can deny them, but doing so means that societies will fail, flounder, and fall down, just as if we ignore the laws of gravity, a building will do so. we can ignore a few and still do OK just as we can get the laws of gravity a bit wrong and still build a house that stays up, but the better we understand them and the better we follow them, the sounder our construction will be.

            such ideas are outlined well in the works of philosophers like locke (who were greatly influential to the US constitution) and if you really want to understand from where such rights are theorized to arise, i suggest you read them.

            notions of evolutionary moral relativism as a progenitive and valid form for establishing valid evolving individual rights are inherently flawed and tend to be hijacked and used for great evil. the outrages of mao, Stalin etc provide some particularly glaring examples. note that such leaders were, at least initially, greatly supported by their populations. but once a parasite gets too strong, evolution is not enough.

          14. morganovich

            that was not to say that legitimate rights cannot come into conflict with one another and that such things need to be adjudicated.

            there are lots of interesting areas there (libel, pollution, land use and all manner of externalities etc)

            but if you are going to start from a position of “I think our rights come from our ability to claim them and build institutions that support them” then there is really no discussion to be had as such a belief is NOT a belief in rights nor in the primacy of the individual, but rather in collectivist, relativist society granted negotiated fiat to individuals and therefore being able to take any such privileges away again.

            those are the privileges of a child in his parent’s home, not an adult in a society characterized by individual rights.

          15. re: ” such a belief is NOT a belief in rights nor in the primacy of the individual, but rather in collectivist, relativist society granted negotiated fiat to individuals and therefore being able to take any such privileges away again.”

            no… it means that’s the system we have … elected governance largely decides what rights are and are not in the absence of explicit articulation of them in a founding document.

            The founding fathers gave us a document that specified how we would determine rights… 3 branches of government….

            rights not specifically articulated are not recognized nor protected.

            there seems to be a mismatch about what “natural rights” are – and are not – and who is responsible for protecting and preserving them.

            From what I can see – they are recognized in the Constitution but not articulated… almost a vague reference without specifics.

            that then leaves the whole area open to interpretation and Libertarians have theirs but it is by no means the only opinion.

          16. morganovich

            It is true that evolution is an amoral process. It does not follow from that that we must be amoral if we are the products of evolution. We create many things that are not found elsewhere in nature: art, music, literature and morality too.

            The idea that our rights just exist as brute scientific facts like the law of gravity seems very odd to me. If that really is the case science should get to work on proving that. You would think a scientist would already be famous for that. In any event it is becoming clear why we are not making more progress in this discussion.

            The idea that evolved rights can’t exist because then they could be hijacked makes no more sense than the idea that airplanes can’t exist because then they could be hijacked.

          17. re: ” issue is about what constitutes a legitimate use of force.”

            agree with that.

            but it’s also in the eye of the beholder and in a situation where you have boundaries and voting governance, that affects who decides what is “legitimate”.

            So what is legitimate is whatever those in charge say it is. So as morganovich asked:

            “under sharia law, a woman who is raped can be put to death for it. would you consider that a legitimate use of force?”

            Your answer must be yes to be consistent with your relativistic claim.

            If *relativistic* isn’t a familiar word to you, check with Wiki.

          18. re: what is legitimate

            how about the US Constitution where it says the SCOTUS
            will decide issues by “mob rule”?

            is that legitimate?

          19. where we disagree is on what the Constitution “meant” and all I say is that if something can be done that is not denied by the Constitution.. it’s hard to decide what “limit” means.

            I can see why it would be difficult for you to decide what “limit” means. You have this exactly backwards. The Constitution grants specific powers to the federal government, and they are clearly spelled out. Everything else is forbidden.

            If you don’t see it listed in the Constitution it’s not allowed.

            The fact that government has grown over time to be way beyond outside those limits is a testament to the danger of delegating any amount of power to someone else and giving them a monopoly on that power.

          20. ” Everything else is forbidden.

            If you don’t see it listed in the Constitution it’s not allowed.”

            really?

            who decides that and with what process?

            If ELECTED law-makers make a law that THEY think is Constitutional – by a majority vote… and the SCOTUS agrees – with a majority vote…

            then what is your problem?

            you and Morg are basically railing against the Constitution…and how it was set up to work.

            what do ya’ll do with you disagree with the speed limit sign?

          21. ” Everything else is forbidden.

            If you don’t see it listed in the Constitution it’s not allowed.”

            really?

            who decides that and with what process?

            If ELECTED law-makers make a law that THEY think is Constitutional – by a majority vote… and the SCOTUS agrees – with a majority vote…

            then what is your problem?

            you and Morg are basically railing against the Constitution…and how it was set up to work.

            what do ya’ll do with you disagree with the speed limit sign?

          22. natural rights” NOT articulated in the Constitution are then “interpreted” by law-makers and SCOTUS.

            right?

            No, Larry.

          23. “natural rights” NOT articulated in the Constitution are then “interpreted” by law-makers and SCOTUS.

            right?”

            No, Larry.”

            okay.. show me the reality Ron.. I know that’s pushing you but give it a whack.

          24. the Constitution defines your rights that the govt will protect.

            The Constitution recognizes and affirms some of – but not all of the individual rights government is forbidden to interfere with.

            Don’t worry, I won’t suggest you read it for clarification on the issue.

            People had rights, there was society, and life was much the same for people at the time before the Constitution was written, and after it was written. Writing the Constitution wasn’t some kind of Big Bang that started everything. It was just a change in the role of government, and in reality very few ordinary people had any thing to say about it. There were only a few dozen elites who created it and then presented it to the 13 states for approval. There was no popular election involved.

            At the time only white, landowning men had any right to vote. Most people including women, slaves, Native Americans, and indentured servants had no say so in their own government.

            So no, Larry, then as now, government had little to do with the “will of the people”.

          25. ” So no, Larry, then as now, government had little to do with the “will of the people”. ”

            Hmm… the current POTUS might weigh in on that idea.

          26. re: what is legitimate

            how about the US Constitution where it says the SCOTUS
            will decide issues by “mob rule”?

            is that legitimate?

            Actually the role of the SCOTUS is to determine the Constitutionality of laws enacted by the legislature and concurred by the executive. The Scotus is intended to be a limit on the power of the other two branches, although it often hasn’t done that. In addition, the Scotus was never intended to be the final word on Constitutionality.

            If a law was passed and the SCOTuS found it Constitutional that death by stoning of rape victims was legal, would you consider it legitimate?

          27. re: ” In addition, the Scotus was never intended to be the final word on Constitutionality.

            If a law was passed and the SCOTuS found it Constitutional that death by stoning of rape victims was legal, would you consider it legitimate?”

            yes.

            that’s the way our governance is set up.

            if you don’t follow that what do you follow?

          28. who decides that and with what process?

            WTF? The framers of the Constitution and the State legislatures that ratified it decided that, Larry. There was a constitutional convention convened for that purpose.

            How can you talk about this stuff if you don’t even know that?

            If ELECTED law-makers make a law that THEY think is Constitutional – by a majority vote… and the SCOTUS agrees – with a majority vote…

            If you don’t see the problem with that statement there’s no point in continuing.

          29. ” If you don’t see the problem with that statement there’s no point in continuing.”

            there is no problem with the way the Constitution works – mechanically.

            it works that way. It embodies the power to make laws with one branch of govt and gives the SCOTUS the right to decide if such laws are Constitutional.

            The Constitution specifies that the lawmakers are elected by “mob rule” and that the appointed SCOTUS decides Constitutional issues with “mob rule”.

            that’s the way the Constitution is set up.

            Either you support it or not.

            I support it.

            Do you?

          30. okay.. show me the reality Ron.. I know that’s pushing you but give it a whack.

            I’ve done so in the past. You don’t read what you’re given or you don’t understand it, or you just refuse to consider it. It’s pointless to do it again.

            Some Rights are *acknowledged* by the Constitution and government is forbidden to violate them. They existed before the Constitution, and were not created by government.

            You have a basic misunderstanding of the proper role of government. It should be your servant not your master. We are not *subjects* to be governed by our betters.

          31. Hmm… the current POTUS might weigh in on that idea.

            Boy, I’ll say. He would be one of my first examples of ignoring the will of the people.

            The Constitution specifies that the lawmakers are elected by “mob rule” and that the appointed SCOTUS decides Constitutional issues with “mob rule”.

            there is just no dispelling your ignorance on this subject, is there. You continue to spout nonsense even when presented with clear evidence to the contrary. All you need to do is read the Constitution – and understand what you read – to correct all of your misconceptions, but I won’t recommend that, as it’s never helped in the past.

            The Constitution actually specifies that electors chosen by each state will elect the President. Voting by individuals is entirely a state matter, and isn’t mentioned in the Constitution at all. It’s not even necessary that those electors be chosen by popular vote, and it’s only by custom that it happens that way.

            Even beyond that, an elector isn’t bound to vote for a particular candidate, but in common practice usually votes as those who chose him or her wish.

            You could use a good education on how your government actually works. You must be a product of the public school system.

          32. Me: “If a law was passed and the SCOTuS found it Constitutional that death by stoning of rape victims was legal, would you consider it legitimate?

            Larry: “yes.

            that’s the way our governance is set up.

            if you don’t follow that what do you follow?

            That’s just effing incredible, Larry.

            I might follow my own conscience and allow my own moral compass to tell me that stoning rape victims is wrong.

            You apparently don’t have one, so whatever someone in authority tells you to do, you will do, and consider it legitimate.

            Adolf Eichmann had a similar attitude. During WW2 it was his job to facilitate the mass deportation of Jews to concentration camps. In this capacity he organized train transportation to the camps. He was proud of himself for doing an excellent job. It was the law, and he followed the letter of the law. What happened to the Jews once they arrived at the camps wasn’t his concern. That was someone else’s responsibility.

            When he was hanged in Isreal in 1962 he died with a clear conscience. He was just doing his job.

        4. The first less of trolling is: Greg G

          1. Lesson. Although I like my typo/Freudian slip.

          2. I know, you were really calling for less trolling and more substantive comments from Greg.

        5. morganovich

          greg-

          “You would think a scientist would already be famous for that. In any event it is becoming clear why we are not making more progress in this discussion.”

          once more, you use a logical fallacy as an argument. does the fact that gravity had not been quantified by folks like newton yet mean there was no gravity 5000 years ago?

          before pathagoras, was the hypotenuse of a right triangle not equal in length to the square root of the sum of the squares of the sides?

          further, many (myslef included) would argue that it has been proven by philosophers and logicians like loche and hobbes and that these theories have overwhelming empirical support throughout history.

          societies that have done the best jobs of defending these posited natural rights have thrived. when such protection is taken away, they fall apart as in venezeula. when they are restored (as in columbia) nations thrive.

          clearly, such tests cannot be performed to isolate variables perfects as in an experiment on the rate of acceleration of two objects toward one another, but one must also accept the caveat “yet” there are well.

          the fact that we could not measure the speed of light did not means there was not one 1000 years ago.

          perhaps artificial intelligence will let us test such notions one day. perhaps not.

          but the evidence to date on this is quite compelling even if it is not enough to be called “scientific proof”.

          you also misunderstand my point about evolved rights. the issue is definitional. if they are evolved from “our ability to claim them and build institutions that support them” then they are not rights. they are privileges upheld by institutions who can then take them away. a right cannot be taken away, only violated.

          this is where you are missing what i am saying.

          you have an inalienable right to free speech. it derives from your person-hood. you could have it alone on a desert island (which is actually a good test of a right. if you cannot have it alone, it cannot be a right)

          no one can (ethically) take it away from you. it is not a privilege granted by anyone.

          if i prevent you from exercising this right, i violate your rights. if a society prevents you from exercising this right, then the society violates your rights.

          let’s say that the legal ability to rape women of a minority tribe evolves in a society. would you claim that such is not a violation of rights, even if the society itself no longer recognized such a right?

          this is a very important question.

          it exposes the great flaw in your evolution argument. shall we just try random things and see what happens? we possess agency and can seek to do better than evolution. we can “move towards”. would you build a house by evolution? just try piling up random stuff any old way and see if it becomes habitable?

          no.

          you’d plan. you’d see what others had done. you’d study laws like gravity and tension and load bearing capacity.

          so why would you seek to build a society differently?

          you would look at the results of past experiments and extrapolate from their successes and failures. you’d develop notions of rules and theorize consistent patterns of human interaction in the same way that you’s look at what homes had stayed up and which fallen down and develop theories.

          all science is theory. all theory is subject to testing and refutation. gravity is a theory. newton was shown to be wrong about it by einstein, but that imperfection was still plenty good to launch missiles and airplanes and build bridges that stayed up.

          science need not be prefect to have strong prescriptive value and to be used to achieve desired results any more than a scientific “law” needs to have been “discovered” and quantified to be true.

          1. morganovich

            “. You would think a scientist would already be famous for that.”

            again, just to belabor this, there are several.

            loche was one. hobbes another. paine was also quite important and had a great deal to say about why a right must be inalienable else truly only be a privilege.

            these men were held in high esteem by many of our constitutional framers and had great influence upon our founding document (though not enough for my taste).

            for more recent works, perhps try von mises and rothbard.

            there are a great many very famous men who have written on this and provided evidence both logical (derived from first principles) and historical.

            the fact that you do not seem to know this surprises me and also makes me wonder how you can feel confident enough to criticize libertarian philosophy when you appear to have not even a passing familiarity with it.

          2. morganovich

            That is quite an eclectic jumble of scientific, theological and political ideas. I certainly agree with a lot of what you say about science: (All knowledge is provisional. We are likely to be able to do things tomorrow that we can’t do today. Natural selection does not operate toward some long term goal.)

            But surely you know you are smuggling in some theological assumptions when you suggest man is not the product of natural selection. And some original ones when you suggest ethical and value questions can be settled scientifically.

            I realize that in my account of rights they are more fragile. It would indeed be better if they weren’t but wishing won’t make it so. Only doing the hard work of building the institutions and traditions that strengthen those rights will make them less fragile.

            As for your question about the rape of a woman of a minority tribe, there was a time when no one questioned the morality of raping the women of a conquered people. That is how the Iliad starts. You can find it in the Old Testament. Thankfully, we have evolved past that point.

            I am glad you brought up the issue of a man alone on a desert island. Why is it no one wants to stay on that island alone and live in that perfect state of libertarian bliss free of the coercion of others? It is because we care about having positive options even more than we care about the absence of coercion. It is because we are social animals who have to figure out how to live with other people who will always have a somewhat different conception of rights than we do.

            When I look at history I do see an increase in freedom and prosperity in many places. And in almost all those places I also see a trend toward constitutional democracy making it possible. I do not see a trend toward the kinds of more extreme libertarian economic arrangements that you are so confident confer a competitive advantage. If they really confer a competitive advantage we should see that. But we don’t.

          3. Greg

            I realize that in my account of rights they are more fragile. It would indeed be better if they weren’t but wishing won’t make it so. Only doing the hard work of building the institutions and traditions that strengthen those rights will make them less fragile.

            Let me try this as regards rights:

            To say that people have natural, inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and pursuit of their own ends, is to say that they are part of what defines a human being. While these rights can obviously be violated, they cannot be separated from a person any more than the natural ability to fly can be separated from a bird. A bird can certainly be prevented from flying, but it will still be part of its nature to fly.

            As for your question about the rape of a woman of a minority tribe, there was a time when no one questioned the morality of raping the women of a conquered people. That is how the Iliad starts. You can find it in the Old Testament. Thankfully, we have evolved past that point.

            No, we haven’t evolved past that point, but many more of us are now likely to question of the morality of such acts.

          4. ” While these rights can obviously be violated, they cannot be separated from a person any more than the natural ability to fly can be separated from a bird. A bird can certainly be prevented from flying, but it will still be part of its nature to fly.”

            As a concept in your mind perhaps but in the real world they are “separated” routinely…

          5. As a concept in your mind perhaps but in the real world they are “separated” routinely…

            I didn’t expect you to grasp that concept, Larry.

            Even if you are in chains, you have a right to be free. It is in your nature as a human being. Too much for your limited intellect, I know.

          6. re: right to be free verses governance.

            what is real?

          7. re: right to be free verses governance.

            what is real?

            That is a false dichotomy.

        6. That is a form of emergent order that is a lot better than what came before it – settling disputes by private violence“…

          Oh yeah?

          According to whom?

          No, really not being sarcastic here…

    2. LarryG,

      Politics is Governance – which in countries with representative government – the collective way to make allocation choices.

      what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      Markets collectively allocate resources based on the aggregate of individual choices made without coercion. Governance is about substituting a particular politician’s or bureaucrat’s preferences for the collective preference found in markets.

      clean water and sanitary living conditions is a “scarcity” that individuals cannot accomplish in the context of dense living conditions

      False. Since individuals have every incentive to find clean water and sanitary living conditions, individuals can, and have, solved this problem. You simply raise the classic Appeal to Tradition logical fallacy. Government immediately took over many aspects of people’s lives, shut out any sort of private initiative, then claim that only the government can provide it, since that’s all that’s providing it now. Of course, people like you will fall for it every time, completely ignoring the path that led to the current government monopoly.

      so our Constitution requires the use of coercion and force and “killing” you if you do not comply?

      Yes. Don’t comply with paying taxes or any other legality on the books and you’ll quickly find men with guns showing up on your doorstep explaining to you that you are not in compliance.

      1. Ken – STFU idiot.

        1. Very elegant and pithy.

      2. re: ” Governance is about substituting a particular politician’s or bureaucrat’s preferences for the collective preference found in markets.:

        you forgot the most important part fool:

        ELECTED Governance REPRESENTS the people who elected them preference over markets ….

        get this straight guy. It’s the way this system does work.

        and put your attitude where the light don’t shine.

        1. LarryG,

          you forgot the most important part fool:

          ELECTED Governance REPRESENTS the people who elected them preference over markets ….

          This is what makes you a fool. You think politicians represent those who elected them. They don’t. Even if they did, what you’re arguing for is for the majority to oppress the minority, which only displays your attitude for those with whom you disagree.

          To show you in what fantasy world you live, consider this: Do you really think that those who elected Obama had their interests represented when he took their wealth and gave it to his cronies on Wall St? Do you think those who elected Obama had their interests represented when he expanded Bush’s war on terror, codified indefinite detention without trial, put American citizens on kill lists, expanded drone usage to include even domestic spying, etc.?

          get this straight guy. It’s the way this system does work.

          and put your attitude where the light don’t shine.

          I know how the system works: straight thuggery. If you don’t do what my elected politicians says you should do, you go straight to jail. Your a shining example of the thuggish attitude of the left.

          1. “This is what makes you a fool. You think politicians represent those who elected them. They don’t. Even if they did, what you’re arguing for is for the majority to oppress the minority, which only displays your attitude for those with whom you disagree.”

            it’s the system we have guy. you can hate it but you can’t say it’s not real. It is what it is.

            “To show you in what fantasy world you live, consider this: Do you really think that those who elected Obama had their interests represented when he took their wealth and gave it to his cronies on Wall St? Do you think those who elected Obama had their interests represented when he expanded Bush’s war on terror, codified indefinite detention without trial, put American citizens on kill lists, expanded drone usage to include even domestic spying, etc.?”

            so?

            get this straight guy. It’s the way this system does work.

            and put your attitude where the light don’t shine.

            I know how the system works: straight thuggery. If you don’t do what my elected politicians says you should do, you go straight to jail. Your a shining example of the thuggish attitude of the left.”

            “straight thuggery”

            otherwise known as elected governance?

            and your alternative is?

            you guys are just whacked out..virulent anti-govt with no alternatives except anarchy…

            good thing you boys are in the minority..

          2. LarryG,

            it’s the system we have guy. you can hate it but you can’t say it’s not real.

            Of course the system we have is real. It’s your characterization of it that’s fantasy.

            so?

            So you do understand that politicians do not represent anyone’s interest except for their own, which is more power and money, but you defend it anyway? Ha!

            otherwise known as elected governance?

            Otherwise known as getting my guy to take from you to give to me. Yes, governance. It’s nothing to be revered or be thankful for.

            and your alternative is?

            LIMITED government as set out in the constitution, which “progressives” have been systematically destroying for at least 100 years.

            you guys are just whacked out..virulent anti-govt with no alternatives except anarchy…

            Yep, personal liberty and responsibility is totally “whacked out”, right? I mean, with the government taking from everyone to line their own pockets and their friends, taking away constitutionally guaranteed rights, taking political prisoners, and starting half a dozen wars willy-nilly, who wouldn’t be for that, right? Only us “virulent anti-gov” types are so silly as to be against this stuff.

            good thing you boys are in the minority..

            Totally a good thing. Otherwise, people would have actual liberty, be able to speak their minds without fear of going to prison, be able to live peacefully and not be thrown in jail and have your belongings confiscated, be secure in your own home knowing that the government won’t take it and give it to their friends. Who wants to live in a world where people can live as they pleased without busy bodies throwing people in jail for doing things they don’t like and taking their property because those busy bodies determine you’re not using it “right”?

          3. re: ” So you do understand that politicians do not represent anyone’s interest except for their own, which is more power and money, but you defend it anyway? Ha”

            I guess it depends which politicians you like or not, eh?

            but the bigger point is this is how we govern – like it or not.

            “limited govt destroyed by progressives”

            geeze Ken.. you ARE whacked out…boy

            the govt we have guy is the govt we voted – over 200 years worth of votes…

            you can label others as you wish but it won’t change how things work.

          4. LarryG,

            I guess it depends which politicians you like or not, eh?

            Not really. I’m not interested in making you behave the way I think you should behave. If you want to get high, knock up a bunch of chicks, and blow town, go to it. It’s your life and the women who had sex with you chose to, knowing what the outcomes could be.

            but the bigger point is this is how we govern – like it or not.

            Self-governance is the best way to go. You know what you should and should not do. You don’t need a police force to know that you shouldn’t fuck my wife or steal my stuff.

            geeze Ken.. you ARE whacked out…boy

            the govt we have guy is the govt we voted – over 200 years worth of votes…

            Look at the size and scope of government from 1789-1913 and you’ll see a small stably sized government. Check out what happened from 1913-today and you’ll see a metastasizing cancer growing ever larger and more intrusive, built on top of “progressive” ideas, like the idea that people shouldn’t have the economic freedom to determine how much they will work and for what wage or the “progressive” idea that experts in a far away capital know what’s best for your retirement and health care. Check out the dramatic uptick that occuring at the end of the 1920’s

            you can label others as you wish but it won’t change how things work.

            False. Properly labelling things is the first step to properly identifying the truly horrible things that are being done. Properly identifying the fact that the US government is now orders of magnitude more oppressive the the king’s government ever was is a first step in changing how things work. Ideas matter, as does clear thinking.

        2. Thanks again larry g for reaffirming that you don’t know what you’re talking about…

          ELECTED Governance REPRESENTS the people who elected them preference over markets“…

          That’s called ‘mob rule‘, look it up in your wikipedia…

          1. re: ” That’s called ‘mob rule‘, ”

            It’s also called the U.S. Constitution nimrod.

          2. Leave it to larry the loser to get it wrong: “It’s also called the U.S. Constitution nimrod“…

            Thanks for the chuckle larry the loser

          3. It’s also called the U.S. Constitution nimrod.

            Again, this is wrong. The U. S. Constitution does NOT set up a system of government such that anything the majority wants it gets. In fact, the U. S. Constitution LIMITS what the government can do, clearly stating the federal government does NOT have the authority to do anything that isn’t explicitly enumerated in by the constitution. Further amendments to the constitution did not fundamentally change this.

            Additionally, to further prevent mob rule, the framers had the senators elected by state legislatures, thereby having a further check on federal power, by having states interests choose legislatures. Sadly, the 17th, along with the 16th, have gone a long way to creating the current federal monster with which the country is saddled.

            Lastly, to fundamentally change the constitution, super majorities are needed.

            These checks worked for over a century, but as I mentioned earlier, “progressives” set about to destroy these checks and limits and take direct control over other people’s lives through the police state. For their own good of course.

          4. The Constitution sets up a system where things are decided by majority votes.

            EVEN on the SCOTUS!

            why do you deny the obvious reality ?

            are you going to tell me that the way the SCOTUS decides – majority vote is “mob rule”?

            you guys are such fools!

          5. The Constitution sets up a system where things are decided by majority votes.

            A majority of who?

            Turn out for local politics is often times less than 10%, meaning that those politicians represent about 5% of voters, which in turn is a subset of the entire population.

            Turn out at the federal level, while better, is a far cry from a majority. The voter turn out for 2012 was 57.5%, which means that the presidential election was determined by 29.03% of voters, which as I said above, is simply a subset of the population.

            To claim that anything is determine by the majority in US politics is to be naive at best. But I’m pretty certain that you’re not, which only makes you a liar. Your mention of SCOTUS is a perfect example. It only takes 5 unelected politicians to determine if a SCOTUS case. In case you didn’t know 5/310000000 is less than .5. And as mentioned SCOTUS judges are unelected, which means you must know that you aren’t being honest, and hence a liar.

          6. re: a majority of who?

            voters.

            legislators

            and SCOTUS

            you may not like it. you may complain about .0001%
            or whatever – but the reality is the Constitution set up the government to work that way.

            Either you abide by and support the Constitution or you do not.

            which is it?

            By the way, have you ever heard of a referenda?

            do you characterize that as a majority of voters or “mob rule”.

            step up here.. and explain yourself.

          7. re: ” And as mentioned SCOTUS judges are unelected, which means you must know that you aren’t being honest, and hence a liar.”

            why is it lying to say this is how the Constitution set up the government including the SCOTUS and how the SCOTUS makes decisions?

            Ken.. do you have to be a clueless zealot all the time?

            can you use some common sense and admit the reality?

            if you DISAGREE with the Constitution -then say so – don’t call others liars.

            be honest guy. it’s good for you.

          8. Ken, I don’t think he’s lying, he just really doesn’t have the logical apparatus to understand these things.

          9. to which I say WTF?

            please explain the DIFFERENCE between Mob Rule and the system that our Constitution set up for voting.

          10. Either you abide by and support the Constitution or you do not.

            Larry – one more time – *government* must abide by the Constitution. It is a structure defining and limiting *government*. It doesn’t restrict individuals in any way.

    3. a simple example… water/sewer… a “need”… clean water and sanitary living conditions is a “scarcity” that individuals cannot accomplish in the context of dense living conditions – so often the people agree to pitch in and each pay a share toward providing something they all need that they cannot accomplish by themselves.

      This is good, Larry, I see the word agree in your example. “The people agree” to pitch in and each pay a share.”

      That’s an excellent example of voluntary co-operation, and everyone is in favor of it.

      1. re: ” This is good, Larry, I see the word agree in your example. “The people agree” to pitch in and each pay a share.”

        That’s an excellent example of voluntary co-operation, and everyone is in favor of it.”

        the mechanism for “agreement” is called majority vote.

        as in a referenda….

        right?

        agree with that nimrod?

        1. the mechanism for “agreement” is called majority vote.

          as in a referenda….

          right?

          agree with that nimrod?

          No, Larry, that’s not it.

          Agreeing means agreeing. Not agreeing means not agreeing. Simple stuff.

          A group that agrees, voting to impose its will on another group that doesn’t agree, isn’t called agreeing.

          1. re: ” A group that agrees, voting to impose its will on another group that doesn’t agree, isn’t called agreeing.”

            isn’t that how the Constitution sets it up?

          2. isn’t that how the Constitution sets it up?

            No.

          3. so.. we don’t vote?

        2. so… we don’t vote?

          You are going in a circle, Larry, and avoiding the main point.

    4. Larry G asked

      “why do you hold Obama to a different standard than those that preceded him?”

      1. Facts not in evidence

      2. You seem to be holding Obama to a different standard yourself.

      Obama has been a civil liberties disaster.

      He did not have to choose to be a civil liberties disaster, and his supporters did not have to support his civil liberties abuses.

      But that is where we are.

      1. re: Obama and civil liberties

        different from prior POTUS?

        show the differences?

        1. LarryG,

          Your reply makes no sense please clarify.

  5. Leaving aside that not everything is economics, democratic governance is how people acting collectively allocate resources, such as roads.

    1. My argument here is that people can collectively allocate resources like roads without governance via tolls and other methods.

      Levying a tax is another way of hiding the actual costs of roads.

      Friedman stated that he didn’t know how a people who couldn’t afford healthcare thought they could afford beaurocrats AND healthcare. The same is true of roads.

      1. Yes, just what is conducive to commerce, where every road is a toll-road.

        1. Z:

          Yes, just what is conducive to commerce, where every road is a toll-road.

          If you were better acquainted with history, you would know that many early roads and highways in the US were private roads built by businesses to facilitate trade.

          1. the problem with toll roads

            is… right of way…

            even modern day private toll roads rely on the state to obtain the right-of-way.

        2. the problem with toll roads

          is… right of way…

          even modern day private toll roads rely on the state to obtain the right-of-way.

          Can you name one?

          1. re: ” Can you name one?”

            just about any road that uses the PPTA process where the power of the state is used to condemn right of way.

            It’s a pretty standard practice if the state does not already own the right of way.

          2. just about any road that uses the PPTA process where the power of the state is used to condemn right of way.

            It’s a pretty standard practice if the state does not already own the right of way.

            *paste*

            Can you name one?

          3. WTF is your reader dorked?

          4. WTF is your reader dorked?

            I’ll take that to mean “no, I can’t name one.”

    2. Jon Murphy

      Zachriel, the second half of your sentence contradicts the first half. Economics is the study of the allocation of resources.

      Also, markets collectively allocate resources, such as roads, too.

      1. Zachriel: Leaving aside that not everything is economics, democratic governance is how people acting collectively allocate resources, such as roads.

        Jon Murphy: the second half of your sentence contradicts the first half. Economics is the study of the allocation of resources.

        No. as economics is a proper subset of “everything”.

    3. Leaving aside that not everything is economics

      Economics is the study of incentives. Since every action man makes involves incentives, your statement is wrong.

      democratic governance is how people acting collectively allocate resources, such as roads

      False. Government is about a particular politician choosing how to allocate resources regardless of what everyone else wants. It isn’t about “collective” anything. Collective decisions are made by free markets, as it aggregates everyone’s decisions in the form of prices.

      1. Ken: Economics is the study of incentives. Since every action man makes involves incentives, your statement is wrong.

        Not all incentives are economic incentives.

        Ken: It isn’t about “collective” anything. Collective decisions are made by free markets, as it aggregates everyone’s decisions in the form of prices.

        Democratic election are certainly a form of collective decision-making.

        1. Not all incentives are economic incentives.

          I didn’t say “economics is the study of monetary incentives”, which is I think what you mean. What I did say is “Economics is the study of incentives.” I didn’t qualify incentives at all. Economics is the study of all incentives, which is why economic theory has been successfully applied to things such as biology and the study of love, something I’m sure you would never consider “economic”.

          Democratic election are certainly a form of collective decision-making.

          Wrong. This is the illusion people tell themselves to assuage their guilt for the knowledge that this isn’t “collective decision-making”. It’s, at best, majority oppression of the minority. But the closer reality is that politicians in power, ignore their constituents preferences, lie to them, and implements policies they personally like, regardless of other people’s decisions.

          The only truly democratic, coercion free system is free markets. Once you’ve determined that you don’t like the way other people behave, so elect a governing body to force those others to behave as you want them to, you have convinced yourself of the legitimacy of gangsters.

          1. ” Democratic election are certainly a form of collective decision-making”..

            “wrong”.

            jesus H keeeeeRIST!

            We just had a local election.. 4 of 6 guys got kicked out because folks were unhappy with their decisions.

            would you not call that collective Democratic decision-making?

            would you advocate that there be NO local board of elected?

          2. would you not call that collective Democratic decision-making?

            No.

            would you advocate that there be NO local board of elected?

            Yes.

          3. Ken: I didn’t say “economics is the study of monetary incentives”, which is I think what you mean.

            Merriam-Webster: economics, a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

            Investopedia: economics, a social science that studies how individuals, governments, firms and nations make choices on allocating scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants.

            It’s reasonable to assume you are using terms in a conventional manner. You are right that we can use economic principles to understand many things beyond human society, just as you can analogize other scientific principles. However, when dealing with something unlimited, for instance, or resources that are intangible, then economics often lacks the facility to make useful distinctions.

          4. Merriam-Webster: economics, a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

            Merriam-Wesbter?! Ha!

            If you pick up a basic econ 101 book, which you clearly haven’t done, the definition is clearly about incentives and how people are affected by them.

            The definition of math is also about numbers, but what is left out is that it is so much more. The same is true with the above definition.

            Good try though.

          5. Ken: Merriam-Wesbter?! Ha!

            American Economic Association: Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources. Resources include the time and talent people have available, the land, buildings, equipment, and other tools on hand, and the knowledge of how to combine them to create useful products and services.

          6. Z: “American Economic Association: Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources. Resources include the time and talent people have available, the land, buildings, equipment, and other tools on hand, and the knowledge of how to combine them to create useful products and services.

            Unnecessarily detailed.

            Try this:

            “Economics deals in general with the action of men to satisfy their desires, and, specifically, with the process of exchange of goods as a means for each indi­vidual to “produce” satisfactions for his desires.”

            Ludwig von Mises

          7. Ron H: Try this:

            Definitions are defined by general usage. However, the definition is reasonable. Not all human incentives involve the exchange of goods to satisfy desires.

          8. Economics is hardly the best model to explain why a bear pees in the woods.

          9. Z: “Not all human incentives involve the exchange of goods to satisfy desires.

            True, as not all “goods” are physical. But all incentives are a result of an individual’s desire to improve their state of well being. Perhaps from a condition of discomfort, whether physical or psychic, to a condition of comfort.

            Which could help explain why a bear might pee in the woods.

        2. Jon Murphy

          Zachriel,

          Economics has applications far beyond the stuffy confines of money.

          Ken is right when he says economics is all about incentives.

          Would you believe me if I told you economics can predict how a baseball team will act at the trade deadline?

          How about how people will drive when a mandatory seat belt law is enacted?

          Economics tells us how floods in Thailand affect American crops. It tells us how bans on water bottles will affect people’s behavior.

          One of the first things taught in any economics class is “incentives matter.” Not “monetary incentives matter”.

          Economics is mistakenly associated with money. Some of that is our own fault, but most of it is just a popular misconception no one has tried to correct. Money is just a small aspect of economics. You can go through an entire economics program with no discussion about money, because money is just one small aspect of it.

          Every action you take, Zach, is dictated by your own economics. You post here when you do because it is the best use of your time to you. That is economics. The job you have is the best use you have of your labor time available to you. That is economics. The music you listen to, the movies you watch, the people you associate with, the foods you eat, the books you read are all judged by you to maximize your goal, whatever it may be (entertainment, nourishment, social life, etc). That is economics.

          1. Let’s not forget, there’s are branches of science called Mathematics, Physics, Meteorology, Psychology, Chemistry, Biology, Botony….Now, I have to use the little boys room – not because it’s the best use of my time – it’s just biologically speaking – I have too!!!

          2. Let’s not forget, there’s are branches of science called Mathematics, Physics, Meteorology, Psychology, Chemistry, Biology, Botony

            The incentives affecting those sciences can be analyzed by economics, from what is being studied in those branches to have faculty departments organize themselves.

            I have to use the little boys room – not because it’s the best use of my time

            You could have just peed yourself at your desk. You had the choice to get up and go to the bathroom, or any of the other places you could go, including wherever you are happen to be. You don’t “have to” go anywhere. That you chose to get up and use the bathroom indicates that you much prefer a sanitary environment, rather than sitting in your won filth, so the best use of your time was in fact to get up and go to the bathroom.

          3. Moe

            Now, I have to use the little boys room – not because it’s the best use of my time – it’s just biologically speaking – I have too!!!

            You have chosen to spend your time going to the bathroom instead of continuing to do whatever you were doing and wetting your pants. It is a rational decision, and in your hierarchy of values the best use of your time given the circumstances.

          4. Oops!

            Sorry, Ken I see I’m being redundant. I didn’t see your comment before I posted.

          5. Jon Murphy: Economics is mistakenly associated with money.

            Didn’t make that assumption. Markets can be understood through economics, and markets preceded money.

          6. Ken: You could have just peed yourself at your desk.

            You could also analyze it in terms of physics or chemistry.

            Your point stretches the notion of economics beyond any reasonable use. It sounds like you have a hammer and so everything is a nail.

          7. Zach,

            Your point stretches the notion of economics beyond any reasonable use.

            It absolutely doesn’t. You’re just trying to get out of admitting that we all have choices and every single choice is affected by incentives. Your the one with the ax to grind against economic reasoning. Especially because you suck at it.

            And you’re wrong to suggest that physics and chemistry could analyze why Moe got up to go to the bathroom, instead of the hundreds of other choices he had when he wanted to relieve himself.

          8. Ken: It absolutely doesn’t. You’re just trying to get out of admitting that we all have choices and every single choice is affected by incentives.

            Reducing every human motivation to economics distorts either economics or the human condition.

            Ken: And you’re wrong to suggest that physics and chemistry could analyze why Moe got up to go to the bathroom, instead of the hundreds of other choices he had when he wanted to relieve himself.

            Economics can’t explain the source of urges either.

          9. Z: “Economics can’t explain the source of urges either.

            Nor is there any attempt to do so. It is enough to know that they exist. Economics only explains the processes through which individuals work to satisfy those urges or desires.

      2. Ron H: Nor is there any attempt to do so.

        Ken had suggested otherwise.

        1. Ken had suggested otherwise.

          We must have missed that part. Without rereading the comments, our understanding is that Ken’s assessment began with the given that Moe suffered from a familiar discomfort that he recognized as “I have to pee”, which discomfort Moe wished to relieve. In other words Moe was incentivized to relieve the discomfort.

          Ken then went on to discussed Moe’s options.

          We can only surmise that in Moe’s hierarchy of values, the additional physical discomfort suffered as a result of taking the time to go to the bathroom was less important than the psychic discomfort he would have suffered from knowing that all his co-workers would have been aware if he had just “let it flow” for immediate relief.

  6. Jon Murphy

    To answer a point that has been brought up multiple times here:

    Both a free-market and government allocation of resources are collective means of allocating resources. The difference is who plans.

    By the way, given the context, I assume the use of the word “collective” is to mean society, and not some hive-mind sort of deal.

    In a free-market system, the collective (eg the people) plan on how to allocate resources. They use the information provided to them (in the form of prices) to allocate their resources so they are most productive at fulfilling their wants.

    In a government system, the government plans for the collective (eg the people) on how the collective will allocate their resources.

    Whereas one has a proven track record of success (free-markets), the other one’s track record is iffy, at best (government). Both are means of allocating resources based on the wants, desires, and needs of the people collectively.

    1. Jon

      By the way, given the context, I assume the use of the word “collective” is to mean society, and not some hive-mind sort of deal.

      While you are correct, the word “collective” has some bad connotations for some who comment here, and others – collectivists – may misinterpret your meaning to be a unity or commonality of some sort, when I don’t believe that’s your intent.

      Morganovich is right. The word “aggregate” might better fit what I believe to be your intended meaning, the sum of individual actions.

      In a free-market system, the collective individuals and groups of individuals (eg the people) plan on how to allocate resources. They use the information provided to them (in the form of prices) to allocate their resources so they are most productive at fulfilling their wants.

      1. ” “In a free-market system, the collective individuals and groups of individuals (eg the people) plan on how to allocate resources. They use the information provided to them (in the form of prices) to allocate their resources so they are most productive at fulfilling their wants.“

        and if there is a Constitution, it allows them to collectively act through government.

        1. and if there is a Constitution, it allows them to collectively act through government.

          Heh! Get a grip, Larry, try to follow the topic being discussed.

    2. Jon Murphy: Whereas one has a proven track record of success (free-markets), the other one’s track record is iffy, at best (government).

      Actually, the most successful economies are mixed systems.

      1. re: ” Investopedia: economics, a social science that studies how individuals, governments, firms and nations make choices on allocating scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants.”

        indeed – not just “individuals”.. Govt is a part of the mix.

        re: economics and money

        money is the universal currency of most “wants” and “needs” that we end up measuring downstream as to their effect on us.

        there are other things involved but often money is.

        an animal has the need to stay warm and expends the energy it takes to “produce” a place of warmth..but there is a cost to that… it has to hunt and eat.

        and I’d point out that some forms of animals actually work “collectively” to meet their needs….and have even a rudimentary form of governance…

  7. Where you see two competing forces (I think, not trying to put words in your mouth Jon) I see the need – not always attainable, of course, of balance between the two. Too often I see it presented as one-or-the-other. Corporations can run amuk just as easily as governments (Enron, Madoff, Upper Branch Mine). To
    assume either side has the market cornered on integrity is dangerous. Swapping out big government for big corporations changes very little; you’ll still be bent over at some point.

    Unfortunately, we have the worst of both worlds here in the U.S. – corporations and our government colluding together. Check out the FCC and Rupert Murdoch…

    1. Jon Murphy

      I agree, Moe, which is why I advocate competition.

      I think some corporations in this country are large, not because they provide a superior good or service, but because they are protected from competition (whether though tariffs, or regulations, or what have you).

      I may have gotten a bit carried away in my rhetoric, and I did not mean to suggest that free markets have cornered the market in integrity. I apologize for conveying that as my point.

      Free markets are not perfect. They go through booms and busts, just like any other market. A free market system would be no more free of recessions than a government-controlled one. Sometimes people make money by scamming other people. It does happen. But compared to the other options, free markets are the best we have for allocating resources and rewarding virtue. To pay tribute to Winston Churchill (and shamelessly manipulate his words :-P ): “Free markets are the worst form of economics, except all others that have been tried.”

      Let me use a sports metaphor: Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is up to bat (Hamilton is one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball). Hamilton strikes out. The next time he comes up to bat, do you pinch hit for him? Of course not! He’ll go through hot streaks, he’ll go though cold streaks, but you know that he is still the better option than the bench warmer on your team. So, you’ll always play him.

    2. Corporations can run amuk just as easily as governments (Enron, Madoff, Upper Branch Mine).

      Absolutely, and that’s because both corporations and government are groups of people, and are prone to the failings of human beings.

      There are important differences though, one being that government has a monopoly on the use of force, and corporations do not. Corporations must enlist that force of government to have any power over others, and thy often do.

      The other difference is that corporations can only cheat you or steal from you if you chose to do business with them. You, in fact, have a tremendous power over corporations because you can vote with your dollars.

      You influence with government is practically non-existent unless you have LOTS of dollars to vote with.

      1. re: ” government has a monopoly on the use of force, ”

        yup.

        ratified by the founders of the Constitution

        and upheld by the SCOTUS for over 200 years.

      2. re: ” government has a monopoly on the use of force, ”

        yup.

        ratified by the founders of the Constitution

        and upheld by the SCOTUS for over 200 years.

        1. re: ” government has a monopoly on the use of force, ”

          yup.

          ratified by the founders of the Constitution

          and upheld by the SCOTUS for over 200 years.

          The Founders didn’t ratify anything, Larry, your sloppy thinking causes you to make incorrect statements.

          But as to your assertion, federal government was given certain clearly defined powers, not an absolute monopoly on all use of force. I can only assume you mean federal government as you mentioned SCOTUS, a branch of the federal government.

          1. re: ” The Founders didn’t ratify anything, Larry, your sloppy thinking causes you to make incorrect statements.”

            the founders did not ratify the Constitution that enabled Mob RUle?

          2. the founders did not ratify the Constitution that enabled Mob RUle?

            No.

  8. Jon Murphy

    Gee, I leave for lunch and this post blows up.

  9. Still nonsense. Scarcity is a man made condition. Look at any natural system. When you look at a heard of 100 deer, you don’t see 5 deer that get 61% of the food.

    1. You probably want to check on that definition again.

      You do write some incredible nonsense.

    2. hydra says (seriously?: “Scarcity is a man made condition. Look at any natural system. When you look at a heard of 100 deer, you don’t see 5 deer that get 61% of the food“…

      Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

      You can’t be serious with that comment, can you?!?!

      BTW the alpha stag in any herd of deer gets 100% of the does as long as he’s strong enough to hold the position…

      Even animals aren’t as dumb as liberals…

      1. You can’t be serious with that comment, can you?!?!

        Sadly, I think he IS serious.

        1. Sadly, I think he IS serious“…

          You know ron h, I think hydra needs to watch more National Georgraphic or something…

          1. Yeah. Something about economy in the animal kingdom would be helpful. :)

  10. There are important differences though, one being that government has a monopoly on the use of force, and corporations do not.

    Not through any fault of their own. They would usurp government power if they could, and failing that they will co-opt it for their purposes.

    The only way around this is to have concealed carry permits for all union members.

    1. Not through any fault of their own. They would usurp government power if they could, and failing that they will co-opt it for their purposes.

      Firms buy government power in the form of regulations that favor them over competitors.

      No firm can force you to spend money against your will, however, but government can.

      1. really? have you heard of monopolies and company stores?

        re: man-made concept

        if “scarcity” is a term of economic study for humans, I have to say I have never seen any books written entitled “Economics in the Animal Kingdom”.

        “scarcity” in the context of Economic study is a human-created construct to describe human actions.

        1. really? have you heard of monopolies and company stores?

          Why yes, Larry, I’ve heard of those things. Let me explain them to you:

          A monopoly as the term is used in economics describes a firm that can reduce the supply of something and thereby raise the price. That means there is no competition for customers for whatever that something is, as competitors would quickly make up for that reduction in supply, being attracted to the opportunity for profits at the higher price.

          In a free market a monopoly would be impossible, and in the real world there are no examples of monopolies not created by government.

          OK so far?

          Company stores: While such things have been an unfortunate reality, and not to be admired, you must keep in mind that people *chose* to work for a large company, perhaps a mine, that offered more opportunity and a better life than they had before, scratching a meager existence out of the ground they lived on.

          re: man-made concept

          if “scarcity” is a term of economic study for humans, I have to say I have never seen any books written entitled “Economics in the Animal Kingdom”.

          Ha Ha. You’re so cute.

          Scarcity is a condition of there not being as much of something as there is desire for that thing. That means those who desire the thing must act to compete or bid for it.

          The reason you haven’t seen books on “Economics in the Animal Kingdom” is probably because the desire for them isn’t greater than the supply. Everyone who wants one already has it.

          “scarcity” in the context of Economic study is a human-created construct to describe human actions.

          No, it is not a human created construct, it is a real phenomenon that explains human actions.

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