bradbradallen

My issue with Laissez-Faire Economics

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he profit motive comes through the contract, not any questionable actions that occur thereafter. In this way, you should always know what you're getting and have a lawful and legitimate right to receive it as you expect.

I have a class in the Sociology of Technology and this morning we had a guest speaker who is a risk manager for a national firm. He told of a labor contractor who supplied part-time security guards for a large event. When an incident caused a panic, some people died. The firm was sued because its guards failed to fulfill their duty to clear the stadium safely. The firm argued that they were only labor providers, not a security firm and that it was up the stadium to train and oversee the guards. Not so, said the contract... Contractual risk is something you have to assume or pass along, but cannot ignore.

(Christopher regarding your avatar, is someone behind you with their hand on your shoulder, or are you a naval commander?)

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We can't forget that Rand's view of Capitalism and Laissez-Faire had government to protect human rights and the integrity of contracts.

If an individual buys fire insurance from firefighters and the contract says or insinuates "equal treatment," then the firefighters must act that way or be taken to court. If the contract is not equal treatment, well then I wouldn't be surprised if other firestations arose to compete.

Same with police forces. Although Rand believed that police represent protection of rights and therefore government function, if we talk about private security forces - the behavior of those forces must be placed into contract. There is no totally arbitrary basis for behavior, no "purely profit motive" so to speak. The profit motive comes through the contract, not any questionable actions that occur thereafter. In this way, you should always know what you're getting and have a lawful and legitimate right to receive it as you expect.

Rand's view of government doesn't matter. Free trade does not involve a government, so disputes ought to be settled as necessary instead of by a swath of arbitrary legalese. If, in a reality with free trade, I am to violate a contract, I should acknowledge the offended party's interests. If I don't, the offended party should seek remuneration. Rand may not have understood that government serves only as an excuse for men to not think.

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Bryce,

You're implicitly assuming that free trade will function precisely because all people trading are completely ethical according to basic human rights. But if we're assuming perfection, then there is no issue having a government either... Conversely, if things aren't perfect, then according to Rand a government is necessary to uphold contractual agreements and human rights. Otherwise, we just have violent tribal wars.

(Micheal, it's my gf's hand during a night out at the opera. A nice picture, so I like to use it)

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Here's my position.

If we could eradicate bullying from human nature, I would have no problem with eliminating government.

But the only effective way I have ever found to get a bully to stop is whop him back real hard. Then he whimpers, but he usually stops.

And the only way I have found to put any kind of rational restrictions on bullying is to appoint force-bearers sanctioned through the rule of law who will make bullies stop when they start, regardless of who they start against, whopping them real hard if necessary.

The reason that is better than individual self-defense as a system is due to the nature of bullies. You never know when a bully will whop someone. Bullies unchecked have no limits. They will soon as whop a child or an old or sick person as someone their own size. Unfortunately, you have to hurt a bully to get him to pay attention.

This does not mean individual self-defense is bad. It isn't. It's good. The problem with adopting it as the sole system for dealing with bullies is that bullies are individuals, too. That means they use their own twisted logic to justify their acts. They can bully and think they are defending their rights.

Then there's another problem: the suck-ups to bullies. A bully without goons isn't much of a bully.

The day we no longer have bullies and their suck-ups is the day we no longer need sanctioned force-bearers to keep them in line.

Until then, we even have to keep a close eye on those sanctioned force-bearers to make sure they are not bullies themselves.

It's not a perfect system, but it is one open to correction when excesses happen, as they always seem to do in human affairs.

Michael

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Bryce,

You're implicitly assuming that free trade will function precisely because all people trading are completely ethical according to basic human rights. But if we're assuming perfection, then there is no issue having a government either... Conversely, if things aren't perfect, then according to Rand a government is necessary to uphold contractual agreements and human rights. Otherwise, we just have violent tribal wars.

(Micheal, it's my gf's hand during a night out at the opera. A nice picture, so I like to use it)

Here's my position.

If we could eradicate bullying from human nature, I would have no problem with eliminating government.

But the only effective way I have ever found to get a bully to stop is whop him back real hard. Then he whimpers, but he usually stops.

And the only way I have found to put any kind of rational restrictions on bullying is to appoint force-bearers sanctioned through the rule of law who will make bullies stop when they start, regardless of who they start against, whopping them real hard if necessary.

The reason that is better than individual self-defense as a system is due to the nature of bullies. You never know when a bully will whop someone. Bullies unchecked have no limits. They will soon as whop a child or an old or sick person as someone their own size. Unfortunately, you have to hurt a bully to get him to pay attention.

This does not mean individual self-defense is bad. It isn't. It's good. The problem with adopting it as the sole system for dealing with bullies is that bullies are individuals, too. That means they use their own twisted logic to justify their acts. They can bully and think they are defending their rights.

Then there's another problem: the suck-ups to bullies. A bully without goons isn't much of a bully.

The day we no longer have bullies and their suck-ups is the day we no longer need sanctioned force-bearers to keep them in line.

Until then, we even have to keep a close eye on those sanctioned force-bearers to make sure they are not bullies themselves.

It's not a perfect system, but it is one open to correction when excesses happen, as they always seem to do in human affairs.

Michael

Christopher and Michael,

Government is not only an issue in "perfection", it's contradictory. Governments are formed by men - not a man - on pretexts of security. And the premise is always collectivist so the causal effect is always more collectivism. It is therefore not open to correction (limitation): Men who create or support their government rely on it, so they will not allow it to be curtailed to uselessness. That, in turn, means that everyone will get (or will be forced to accept) more than just an unbiased judicial system or police. They will get regulation, social contracts, welfare, and much more.

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Christopher and Michael,

Government is not only an issue in "perfection", it's contradictory. Governments are formed by men - not a man - on pretexts of security. And the premise is always collectivist so the causal effect is always more collectivism. It is therefore not open to correction (limitation): Men who create or support their government rely on it, so they will not allow it to be curtailed to uselessness. That, in turn, means that everyone will get (or will be forced to accept) more than just an unbiased judicial system or police. They will get regulation, social contracts, welfare, and much more.

You are absolutely correct that governments are formed of men. Good governments are governments of men, not of institutionalized authority. However, I don't necessarily agree that it follows governments create a collectivist effect. The corollary to your premise here is that all efforts between men result in collectivism, and that is simply not true. There is nothing especially different about a government and a family, a government and a corporation, a government and a contract, a government and men doing stuff together... At least, this is how I believe Objectivism views a government.

The benefits of a government, other than those previously listed, are that individual behaviors that deviate from norms (a sudden emotional desire to kill someone) are harnessed by the effort of other men. In this way, sudden individual arbitrary impulses do not hijack and destroy the system. In essence, men form an agreement to come to each other's aid when they are dealing with trouble related to infringment of rights. This is quite awesome if you ask me. A big step up from mere tribalism.

However, I like your thoughts, and I like the way you see things. Your ideas are generally true for what governments have done historically. The difference is that Objectivism strives to describe how a government can and should operate.

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Your ideas are generally true for what governments have done historically. The difference is that Objectivism strives to describe how a government can and should operate.

Churches should celebrate spirituality by glorifying human intelligence and celebrating human achievement. Objectivism strives to describe how a church can and should operate, as opposed to what they have done in the past.

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It seems that you are describing anarchism - when even the police and armed forces are "private." Is this what you intend? For what it is worth - - - it was not Ayn Rand's position. She advocated government as having the role of military defense, and of police.

Anarchism = neverending civil war.

Bill P

And government will in the not so long run produce tyranny which either leads to the perpetual enslavement of men by other men or the perpetual round of revolution to overthrow the tyrant and establish yet another government that will eventually become a tyranny.

In the entire history of the human race there has never been a good government. There are only bad governments and worse governments. In Switzerland, however meek, mild and boring the government is there, they tax the citizens and require them to be in the militia. That is servitude.

Bob Kolker

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I think that's the point of the government. To oppress man and certain qualities in him that need to be oppressed.

The reason the state exists is so that it can do the unjustifiable.

I do not believe, on any moral level, in murder. However, I believe in the death penalty.

I do not believe, on any moral level, in stealing, or in kidnapping or in telling people what to do. However, I believe that some limited taxation, jails, and accompanying police organs are required.

It may lead to tyranny, but it is still a "neccessary evil."

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MSK asked the right question. Not only bullies, consider psychotics, thugs, sexual predators, scammers, fraudsters, fools in deep shit, charismatics, drug addicts, nihilists, gangsters.

Maybe I've had more experience with evildoers. Statistically government has a pretty poor track record in suppressing or avenging crime. It could be argued that government always inflicts more harm and makes the situation worse by forbidding private action and excusing private inaction.

Michael Marotta rightly points to the good done by private security companies.

All instrumentalities of community protection and public welfare existed first as private, voluntary organizations (constabularies, fire brigades, libraries, schools, hospitals) before dilettantes and wardhealers proposed that a bureaucracy should monopolize and run them badly. [ 'Defacto Anarchy' in Laissez Faire Law ]

But the truth of the matter is some communities, cultures, and nations will be safer and gentler than others. I refused an invitation to Moscow, for instance. Russia, Africa, Central Asia, the Mideast, South and Central America, and quite a few American cities are on my no-go black list.

Edited by Wolf DeVoon

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Bryce,

I'm having difficulty following your line of reasoning since it does not address one fundamental I wrote about.

Do you believe bullies (and bully suck-ups) exist or not?

Michael

I believe they exist.

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Christopher and Michael,

Government is not only an issue in "perfection", it's contradictory. Governments are formed by men - not a man - on pretexts of security. And the premise is always collectivist so the causal effect is always more collectivism. It is therefore not open to correction (limitation): Men who create or support their government rely on it, so they will not allow it to be curtailed to uselessness. That, in turn, means that everyone will get (or will be forced to accept) more than just an unbiased judicial system or police. They will get regulation, social contracts, welfare, and much more.

You are absolutely correct that governments are formed of men. Good governments are governments of men, not of institutionalized authority. However, I don't necessarily agree that it follows governments create a collectivist effect. The corollary to your premise here is that all efforts between men result in collectivism, and that is simply not true. There is nothing especially different about a government and a family, a government and a corporation, a government and a contract, a government and men doing stuff together... At least, this is how I believe Objectivism views a government.

The benefits of a government, other than those previously listed, are that individual behaviors that deviate from norms (a sudden emotional desire to kill someone) are harnessed by the effort of other men. In this way, sudden individual arbitrary impulses do not hijack and destroy the system. In essence, men form an agreement to come to each other's aid when they are dealing with trouble related to infringment of rights. This is quite awesome if you ask me. A big step up from mere tribalism.

However, I like your thoughts, and I like the way you see things. Your ideas are generally true for what governments have done historically. The difference is that Objectivism strives to describe how a government can and should operate.

You must stop deferring your logic to your perception of Objectivism to understand my point. Your life should not be about what Ayn Rand would do and should be about what you will do.

Advocates of government rely on the "that's just the way things are" concept. If some men are always going to thieve or assault (or whatever) other men, don't write a code of morality against their seemingly amoral actions. Because as soon as you accept that it's going to happen you give it sanction. So deal with threats to you individually and not deliberately as a collective. Others may aide you, too, but not under an arbitrary banner of moral obligation or collective virtue. They'll help out of rational self interest. And if they don't, you nor anyone else holds authority to make them.

Edited by Bryce

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Christopher and Michael,

Government is not only an issue in "perfection", it's contradictory. Governments are formed by men - not a man - on pretexts of security. And the premise is always collectivist so the causal effect is always more collectivism. It is therefore not open to correction (limitation): Men who create or support their government rely on it, so they will not allow it to be curtailed to uselessness. That, in turn, means that everyone will get (or will be forced to accept) more than just an unbiased judicial system or police. They will get regulation, social contracts, welfare, and much more.

You are absolutely correct that governments are formed of men. Good governments are governments of men, not of institutionalized authority. However, I don't necessarily agree that it follows governments create a collectivist effect. The corollary to your premise here is that all efforts between men result in collectivism, and that is simply not true. There is nothing especially different about a government and a family, a government and a corporation, a government and a contract, a government and men doing stuff together... At least, this is how I believe Objectivism views a government.

2

The benefits of a government, other than those previously listed, are that individual behaviors that deviate from norms (a sudden emotional desire to kill someone) are harnessed by the effort of other men. In this way, sudden individual arbitrary impulses do not hijack and destroy the system. In essence, men form an agreement to come to each other's aid when they are dealing with trouble related to infringment of rights. This is quite awesome if you ask me. A big step up from mere tribalism.

However, I like your thoughts, and I like the way you see things. Your ideas are generally true for what governments have done historically. The difference is that Objectivism strives to describe how a government can and should operate.

You must stop deferring your logic to your perception of Objectivism to understand my point. Your life should not be about what Ayn Rand would do and should be about what you will do.

Advocates of government rely on the "that's just the way things are" concept. If some men are always going to thieve or assault (or whatever) other men, don't write a code of morality against their seemingly amoral actions. Because as soon as you accept that it's going to happen you give it sanction. So deal with threats to you individually and not deliberately as a collective. Others may aide you, too, but not under an arbitrary banner of moral obligation or collective virtue. They'll help out of rational self interest. And if they don't, you nor anyone else holds authority to make them.

The problem, Bryce, is that there *is* a difference between how many should act according to Objectivism (or any other -ism) and how they do act. If people always (or even typically) grokked and acted according to their own rational self interest, I would agree with your comments. But as Christopher states above, many don't, and that lack of understanding (or caring about) the logical result of their actions can and does have wider implications on fully rational humans who act in their enlightened self interest*. Plus, there's the issue of unforeseen effects. An injustice that appears not to be your problem can suddenly and unexpectedly have side effects on you and yours. For a Laissez-faire economic system, it seems you have to have as many people as possible, or at least a critical mass, who are willing and able to understand and act in something resembling their own enlightened self-interest. So the questions become:

1. How do we educate people to understand and act more effectively in their own self-interest, and to react effectively when others' actions and/or sheer dumb luck bring misfortune to their doorstep?

2. How do we protect the rest of society from the bad actors, while mankind evolves into a more rational state?

3. When two individuals or groups' rational self-interests conflict, how do we resolve the dispute?

Until the happy day comes when we're all turned into Vulcans, Human history suggests we will have to have some sort of government to help solve, or at least ameliorate, the damage that human nature can and does inflict on us. Too little oversight, and there's nobody but yourself to protect the laissez-faire capitalists from being taken out by snipers, or from being defrauded by more "civilized" breaches of contracts. On the other hand, when you institute too much oversight, you kill innovation, and the rest of your economy follows. Extreme ideas and complex schemes for governance don't have a particularly great track record, at least in my reading of world history. It seems that in an imperfect world populated by imperfect humans, the most people are afforded the most opportunity for innovation and prosperity by striking a balance between security and liberty, and the ideal balance point is impacted substantially by what is going on in the world as a whole. Decisions that made sense in 1960 may not be the proper solution in 2010. Then again, they may be. That's where human reasoning and debate come in, and why we have intelligent people on both sides of the political divide. Objectivism and Laissez-Faire capitalism are two of the sturdiest hammers humans have come up with in recent history. However, one needs to make sure your problem is a nail before you start whacking away at it.

Sarah

*I am not at all convinced that a "fully rational human who acts in his enlightened self interest" exists in nature, at least I haven't met one in a varied career that has put me in close contact with intellectuals, engineers, businessmen, software developers, lawyers and other professions renowned for their cool rationality. I would like to think I live happily devoid of blind spots and that my Logos invariably overrules my Pathos. However, self-delusion, of that type at least, is on the very short list of "Flaws I do not have".

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