Yakk wrote:In any case, during the period of the Great Depression, farmers (overall) had enough food. The problem was distribution -- and, in particular, with prices collapsing, paying for debts that where denominated in pre-deflation values:
So, that's why nearly half of all farmers gave up in the Great Plains and headed for the cities in California further to the west? Because they had enough food, despite the vast droughts and overworked fields that produced no food?
In some ways farmers were better off than city and town dwellers. Farmers could produce much of their own food while city residents could not. Almost all farm families raised large gardens with vegetables and canned fruit from their orchards. They had milk and cream from their dairy cattle. Chickens supplied meat and eggs. They bought flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and baked their own bread. In some families the farm wife made clothing out of the cloth from flour and feed sacks. They learned how to get by with very little money. But they had to pay their taxes and debts to the bank in cash. These were tough times on the farms.
You know, most of the farmers of that time would beg to differ. In fact, the government produced a film during the 1930s - The Plow That Broke The Plains
- to show the extent of the damage to the farming community.
The Federal government passed a bill to help the farmers. Surplus was the problem; farmers were producing too much and driving down the price. The government passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 which set limits on the size of the crops and herds farmers could produce. Those farmers that agreed to limit production were paid a subsidy. Most farmers signed up eagerly and soon government checks were flowing into rural mail boxes where the money could help pay bank debts or tax payments.
If farmers were really producing too much and driving down the price, that would be a good thing. Given that so many were out of work and living off of their savings, a lower price for food would be of great benefit to everyone. But, of course, you won't see it that way.
The AAA did put controls on farmers, just as the National Recovery Act put controls on industry. It had little to do with the particulars of the market, and everything to do with a belief by FDR (and Hoover before him) that the government could fix the problem, if only it had more control. Totalitarianism took over the US almost entirely between 1929 and 1945.
22 wrote:Taxes are not on wealth, only income.
The USA has both wealth and income taxes, as do most industrialized economies. An example of a wealth tax is property taxes.
I am, of course, referring to the federal government - which is almost entirely funded by income taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. And, of course, printing and borrowing money. Local and state governments may have taxes on wealth. The only federal tax that would qualify as such is the estate tax.
Not that this matters. You have indicated that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing so out of biases. So I'm (personally) done here.
Of course, there is bias involved. My sources are biased as well. Thus, I have endeavored to make my points based on statistics from sources that are biased against
my arguments (the US Census Bureau cannot possibly be accused of being in favor of reducing government power, for example) - not merely some book that a guy that agrees with me wrote.
hawkinsssable wrote: cs22 wrote:
hawkinsssable wrote:Some of my relatives were in socialist organisations in Germany during the Third Reich, meeting in secret and disseminating information at great risk to themselves. The socialists. Not the capitalists.
And? Advocating state control, but not under this guy you disagree with, is still a problem.
Horrible people, socialists in general and my relatives both. Seeking to replace Nazism with (Trotskyist, I think?) socialism was pretty morally problematic.
I did not say that it was worse than Nazisim, although it can be seen that Communist socialism has destroyed just as many people. I said that it was still a problem. In effect, the difference between hating Jews and hating capitalists is not so far - hate is still hate.
We could, of course, replace the corpses you posted from the Holocaust, with those that resulted from other socialist policies and controls.
The difference between Nazism and the Communism that Hitler railed against was very small. One committed absolute horrors to increase the power of the State with Hitler in charge. The other did very much the exact same thing, only to get and keep Communists in power.
The collectivism is still present in these systems, whether they be fascist, Nazi, or some other kind of socialist.
1. Many businesses, in some of the exact fields you claimed this could not be the case, relid on state intervention (especially early on) to reach their current levels of innovation and commercial success.
My point was not whether they had relied on state intervention - it was that they did not do so when the industries were (1) very young, and (2) actually improving and innovating.
2. The size of a state or the extent of its economic liberalism does not lead to atrocities, genocide or war. It's much more complicated than that.
Your so-called "complication" arises from the fact that you do not see that economic liberalization and political liberalization are irrevocably linked. If you have no political liberty, such that the government can make you "disappear" if you dissent or otherwise make life difficult, you have no economic liberty to create businesses that the government does not approve of. If you have no economic liberty, such that your subsistence is provided by the government, you have no true political liberty to dissent - as your subsistence can be cut off, and then what would you do? These go hand in hand. You cannot have economic liberalization without political liberalization - which is why it seems to have failed in places like Russia and Chile, where dictators still control the government. (Yeah, I know that there is technically democracy in Russia - but Putin has switched from PM to President for decades, always with his lackey in the other seat. He and his followers really run the country.)
"The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom" - Ludwig von Mises
To believe that you cannot fully own your justly acquired property or business and use it for the ends that you speculate may please yourself or your customers the most--without massive state intervention--and still be free is a myth. Political freedom is considered to be the means by which economic freedom was realized-- They must go hand and hand.
3. Absolute scarcity is very rarely the problem, and focusing on scarcity is unhelpful- entitlements are more important. FOR EXAMPLE: Starvation is due to an inability to claim an entitlement to food, something that the introduction of the market has greatly contributed to.
And I argued that local
scarcity is nearly always the problem, where there is not enough. Free trade prevents local
scarcity from having as much of an effect (as there is almost never a global
famine) . Thus, it is not the entitlement that helps, but the ability to trade freely with other nations and peoples. For example, there is a famine in Somalia right now - and the problem is very truly scarcity and lack of trade.
Further, much of the reduction of starvation is due to increases in agricultural technology that result from liberal marketplaces.
4. That the wealthiest 1% of Americans pay an equal amount of tax to the lowest 95% is largely because of the staggering inequality in the US.
And that inequality is not nearly so vast as you made it out to be when dealing with income
instead of wealth (and we are talking about the income
tax). Focusing on wealth distribution is rather disingenuous when talking about how much is paid in income
5. Your ideology and your mode of reasoning is a closed loop that leads to you dismiss anything that runs contrary to your intuitions.
No, you. Of course you have to show me significant proof of something that I disagree with, based on my use of logic and the evidence I have accumulated over the years. I could make the same claim about you - that isn't an argument. It's pretty much a tautology.
You only addressed point 3 in a cursory way, through claiming that market economies do not and can not produce starvation, and any anthropological evidence to the contrary is obviously false due to inherent bias.
I did not claim that - I claimed that the market is the best way to alleviate starvation. Resources are scarce - that is one of the first lessons of economics. The fact that you cannot understand that, and claim it is all about distribution (and further that the State can distribute better than a free market) is part of your problematic understanding of my position.
You also mention corruption and bureaucratic idiocy (which are widely acknowledged as forming barriers to claiming entitlements). You also, I think, misunderstood the meaning of "entitlements", which hardly refer exclusively to entitlements vis a vis the State.
So, using this meaningless definition of "entitlements", where any access to food counts, free trade is still the best possible way to avoid corruption and bureaucratic idiocy, given that the only other option is to have access controlled by idiotic, potentially corrupt, bureaucrats.
The free market is the best way to distribute resources to the ends only individuals can determine the relative importance of.
You (partially) addressed the specifics, but not the spirit, of point 4. (The spirit being that your intuitions about "fairness" are spectacularly unintuitive, a point you didn't exactly undermine.)
Again, fairness would indicate that the top 1% would pay in proportion to their share of the income - 21% of the taxes. Possibly just a hair more than that, accounting for the small percentage taken in by the desperately poor. Not more than the bottom 95% - where anything below the median income is tax-free or even added to with money stolen from the top earners.
You confirmed point 5. Through your comment on "inherent biases", and by reaffirming throughout your post that negative liberty, including glorious economic liberty, is the most important thing. Full stop. Everything else is meaningless.
Positive liberty is a meaningless term. Liberty that does not infringe on other's rights, however, is definitely the most important thing. Without liberty, wealth is meaningless - even that small bit that provides subsistence. People work to live better - and that cannot happen, even with infinite wealth, if they are not free to choose the course of their own lives.
Taxation is theft.
Correction: Taxation for the purpose of rearranging the wealth of a society is theft. Furthermore, it harms the actual distribution of goods, weakens the economy by removing job-creating capital, and results in only a lower standard of living for everyone. Taxation should be restricted to funding the legitimate functions of the government - diplomacy, military defense, and the legal system.
Taxation is slavery.
Dependence on government is slavery. The provision of necessities for existing, with no private, free way to provide them yourself, along with so many rules, regulations, and laws that prevent this way from existing - that is slavery. Not mere taxation.
Uncompromising property rights are necessary to stop society from devolving into
anarchy tyranny and baby- eating servitude.
Fixed. Demeaning and misrepresenting my position is not getting us anywhere, although I'm sure it makes you feel better about your beliefs.
Which brings us to core values- how valuable is negative liberty relative to positive liberty?
Positive liberty is meaningless. It destroys liberty in the name of liberty. An oxymoron if I ever saw one.
Relative to preventing "absolute" poverty as you understand it (no entertainment, no appliances, no living space, no food)? Relative to preventing absolute poverty as most people understand it (an absolute but elliptical concept)?
Absolute poverty is, and always has been, a desperate struggle to survive. Anything more than that is not truly poverty. And I ask you how something can be both absolute and elliptical (whatever you mean by that)?
Relative to producing the funding necessary to develop unprofitable medicines for illnesses that affect only the poor?
The government is the biggest obstacle to this. For instance, government banned DDT (because it weakened eagle's eggshells or something). DDT is the easiest solution to eliminating malaria in Africa, where it is a huge problem for the poor. (And only the poor, as we virtually eliminated malaria in the developed world before
And what illnesses, pray tell, are affecting ONLY the poor in modern society?
All I will say is that our values are shaped by our social and material circumstances, and what matters to some people in some contexts hardly matters to other people in other contexts. And that I would hardly wish to impose a political and economic order on any people based purely on my moral reasoning, with all its subconscious, deeply internalised values.
And yet, you propose exactly that. Whereas my "political and economic order" allows for individual freedom of choice to work towards ends that have relative importance known only to the seekers of those ends, you proclaim that this is meaningless, and even harmful, and we HAVE to help the poor at the cost of everything else. That allowing choice is evil, because it hurts the poor. That I have no right to choose what to do with what I have earned.
I proclaim that if helping the poor is the most important individual end, in your view, then you should pursue it. Strongly. With your own resources. I, however, may see other individual ends to be important, and choose accordingly. This is far different from assuming, as you seem to, that your ends are not only the most important to you
, but should be to everyone, and therefore you have the right to use the government to force us to seek your ends instead of our own.
Thus, I claim that liberty
, in the original sense, is the most important political
end, as it allows you to determine the relative importance of any individual end, and act upon that. If that should be different than what I choose, so be it. Just don't force me to go along with you if I do not choose to.
Imagine a state of near- complete economic and political freedom. Somehow, something has gone wrong, and inequality has grown, wages for almost all workers have been reduced, and the working day has gone back up to 14 or 16 hours. Unions are, in this scenario, forbidden for reasons relating to economic freedom. (Or maybe, if this is too implausible to even consider, inequality alone has increased and all the dumb, selfish parasites are filled with uncontrollable envy.)
Suddenly, a random worker has an idea, and starts talking in secret with other workers. The idea is this- the people running these factories, well, they rely on our labour. They can't do anything without it! If we can just get enough people together who will refuse to work, we can kick those guys out, and start sharing all the money we make equally. Who cares if that compromises industrial innovation? We've progressed as much as we need to. It's time to equalise wealth.
So a general strike is called, and across the state, everybody stops working. Even the strike- breakers. The whole system is going to collapse into something else.
Would you rather sacrifice some economic freedoms and institute a minimum wage/ maximum working day, or have the entire system fall?
Interesting theoretical, almost a reverse of that in Atlas Shrugged
. However, it fails on two counts to be even plausible.
1) You make the same assumptions that the makers of Bioshock did. That any society based on political and economic freedom must prevent certain freedoms. The right of free association requires that workers be allowed to join unions - although it also means that employers can fire unions instead of working out a contract (in most fields, this would be suicide, as training an entire new workforce is very expensive and the bad PR would hurt as well) and workers can choose not to join the union (as in right-to-work states in the US).
2) There are many states where the power of the unions is weakened by the right to work. These states have higher average wages, closer to full employment, and better economic growth. So your assumption that the union helps is quite wrong, especially given the political corruption rampant in unions in the US, where the UAW and teacher's unions force workers to join, force them to pay dues, and then use those dues to promote union power over that of both the workers and employers.
3) Even if this hypothetical were plausible, and the scenario could theoretically happen, what would I prefer? Neither. The right to choose not to work is an inherent economic freedom. Thus, I would say the system would need to collapse. However, your understanding of collapse is quite a bit different of mine. If there were no laborers that would work under the current conditions, the conditions would change - capital owners are not stupid. They will, of their own volition, work out agreements with the laborers. Conditions will, if possible given the amount of capital, improve (well, for most workers - the rest will likely be unemployed).
Besides, if the laborers are so organized as to hold the entire system hostage, they can have whatever they want - in other words, the system will collapse anyway as the laborers demands increase until they cannot be realistically met (this happens all the time, where union agreements drive companies out of business). Just as the system of social democracy is beginning to collapse now that people are voting themselves money out of the Treasury (did you know that Greece had yet another bailout - but that socialistic welfare thing is working so well, right?) until the State itself goes bankrupt. Collapse of the system, however, is in no one's best interest - they may see it as a way to get better pay or benefits, or a more fair system, but it would merely result in chaos and anarchy.
I take it, given your obvious disdain for liberalism, that you would agree with Mussolini (and be glad that he was mostly right) that "[i]t may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism…. [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State…."
"Liberalism and capitalism address themselves to the cool, well-balanced mind. They proceed by strict logic, eliminating any appeal to the emotions. Socialism, on the contrary, works on the emotions, tries to violate logical considerations by rousing a sense of personal interest and to stifle the voice of reason by awakening primitive instincts" - Ludwig von Mises