Libertarianism

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:51 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Alright. What would a non-exploitative Indentured Servitude contract look like and how would it differ from current Employee Contracts?
In exchange for a free college education now, you agree to serve in the military for seven years into the future. You will be paid not very much during this time, but you will be fed and housed, and where you're going, there's not much use for spare change. Sure, you'll come out broke, but you will be a very good employment candidate. Somebody who's already broke and living in a depressed area with little hope of advancement might see this as a decent step up. Obviously somebody who's well off or who already has good prospects would pass on the deal. But not every deal is right for every person.

I don't see where the owner of your contract is able to sell your labor off if it is no longer needed. In your instance, part of that contract requires that if the body that has hired you as a soldier no longer needs a large standing army as they are at peace, they can sell the contract to another nation, possibly at war, and you have no legal choice in the matter.

In short - you've described an employment contract for the military, not indentured servitude.

ucim wrote:
Weeks wrote:Have you ever served in the military for one year, let alone seven years.
No. What of it?
I'm sidestepping the issue Weeks is bringing up here, but...

In a fairly easy to argue stance - particularly when traded for education, military service is exploitative. That's a link to a spot in this thread where we talked about that for a bit. But I'm choosing to ignore that for now and are ignoring the exact nature of the labor in your hypothetical contract - part of what makes an Indentured Servitude Contract an Indentured Servitude Contract is that you are no longer in control of your labor, you have sold it to someone for a specified time period and what they choose to do with it is not up to you. It does not matter if you are a world class chef and sculpture - if they need someone to lay brick, you're laying brick today. If they no longer need your service but someone else does, they can sell you off.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:08 pm UTC

As for the issue Weeks was bringing up, it's the difference between happening to have had a lucky pleasant military experience on the one hand, and talking out your ass (again) on the other.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:33 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I don't see where the owner of your contract is able to sell your labor off if it is no longer needed.
Fair enough. Although in the military, you go where they send you. That's why they call them "orders". They might not be selling the contract, but when the US military sends its soldiers to defend some other country against a third country, that's pretty close.

SecondTalon wrote:part of what makes an Indentured Servitude Contract an Indentured Servitude Contract is that you are no longer in control of your labor, you have sold it to someone for a specified time period and what they choose to do with it is not up to you. It does not matter if you are a world class chef and sculpture - if they need someone to lay brick, you're laying brick today.
Sounds like the army to me.

SecondTalon wrote:In a fairly easy to argue stance - particularly when traded for education, military service is exploitative.
I won't argue whether it is or it isn't. It is however a currently accepted and well used trade. Given that, I put it against indentured servitude, which at that time was also an accepted and well used trade.

My personal experience makes no difference. The military clearly exists, is clearly an acceptable and accepted career, and has enough of the key parts of the deal in common with indentured servitude that it's a reasonable illustration, even if it's not identical. Now you could reasonably argue that military service is exploitative in the same way that indentured servitude is exploitative; I won't argue. But I'll point out that entering a contract for military service in exchange for education is accepted as a reasonable thing to do.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:57 pm UTC

A lot of military restrictions are specific to the military, and are that way because of historical arguments for military necessity. They don't really want folks to quit when they get deployment orders. McDonalds does not enjoy this same argument for necessity.

Many of these restrictions have been eased to some degree. The military offers a lot of ways to opt out of the military now, and forcing the unwilling to remain in is less important to the military now than perhaps ever before.

If anything, we should probably revisit military rules to consider how we can make it less coercive. Even if we do not, though, it's reasonable to hold that the military's role in society is unusual, and we aim for the least coercive standards in general, not the most coercion we can justify.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:48 am UTC

ucim wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:In a fairly easy to argue stance - particularly when traded for education, military service is exploitative.
I won't argue whether it is or it isn't. It is however a currently accepted and well used trade. Given that, I put it against indentured servitude, which at that time was also an accepted and well used trade.

Except, when you initially posted about it, it was in response to a request for a *non-exploitative* servitude contract.

So it's actually kind of central to your whole fucking argument that the military is non-exploitative.

If ST had wanted you to talk about an arrangement that is common now and looks kind of like the common past arrangement of indentured servitude, I'm pretty sure he would have asked that instead.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:23 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Except, when you initially posted about it, it was in response to a request for a *non-exploitative* servitude contract.
I don't think the military contract is exploitative. You agree to these terms, which include the possibility of going to war and the possibility of not having your talents used the way you'd like and the possibility of having various body parts blown off... in exchange for a free education and whatever, which you consider to be better than the alternative (which the military did not create for you. Yes, in some cases the marketing is... less than forthright. But this is true of all marketing, and that's a rant for a different thread.

The point isn't whether I consider it exploitative; if that were the case then the discussion would be about what it is that constitutes exploitation in a contract - any contract. And to be fair, every contract includes exploitation. All of them, ranging from book advances to mortgages to software development to military service to firefighting to hamburger flipping. All of them. You don't work for money unless you need the money. So, the need for money, being met by this (or any) contract, constitutes exploitation. All to "some degree", which we can dicker about forever.

Rather, the point is (or I took it to be) whether {one contract or another} is generally considered to be exploitative, specifically in the sense that colonial era indentured servitude contract is considered (by some today) to be exploitative.

So... if you consider both indentured servitude and military service to be exploitative, and indentured servitude is not ok because of this, then military service ought to be not ok for the same reason. And if that is the case in your mind, then we are having a different conversation than the one I thought we were having.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:48 am UTC

I'm not sure why your inability to follow the conversation is supposed to be my responsibility though?

Like, whether or not I personally find military recruiting exploitative (I do btw), it was already brought up as such in this thread. You then cited it as an example of something non-exploitative (not just something generally considered by some others as non-exploitative, but something *genuinely* non-exploitative, because otherwise it wouldn't have made sense as an answer to ST's question).

You should either be willing to back up that implication, or you should admit that you don't care whether your response to ST was relevant.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:51 am UTC

Yanno, I'm just gonna drop it. I've said what I said; there's no point in derailing the thread with where this is going. If it makes you feel better, I'll just withdraw it all.

Sorry for being mistaken.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Weeks » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:21 am UTC

ucim wrote:If it makes you feel better, I'll just withdraw it all.

Sorry for being mistaken.
You yourself said the following:

ucim wrote:The topic came up because of the (IMO) misuse of the word "slavery" to describe lack of good employment opportunity leading to a downspiral of wages. I believe it injects an unwarranted emotional tone into what should be serious business.
If the tone of the conversation must lack "unwarranted emotional tone" according to you, I believe it is hypocritical of you to retract your arguments based on your feelings.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Kit. » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:18 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:"It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible", after all.

I think it is a common misconception. "Free market" is not a stable macroeconomic structure, but an idealized state of the market conditions. "No monopolies" is not a consequence of this state, but an a prerequisite to it. So far, at least to me, it looks like - on finite-sized markets - it is an unstable state, and will degrade to monopolies and/or to a systemic intervention from non-market forces.

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ucim wrote:That's not the canonical definition of "efficient market",

I think it's quite close. And what is your "canonical" definition?

ucim wrote:Until I invent the claw-hammer. Now I can remove nails, and nobody else can. If I keep the claw secret, I have an advantage, just by owning property.

In the context of the "efficient-market hypothesis" (which is not an universal truth, but seems to apply to some markets), you have this advantage by owning information. As soon as you lose your secret, your property with give you little advantage.

ucim wrote:What does Theshville do about it?
That's a key question. If "nothing", then the system is unstable. The first clever capitalist pig-dog that arrives eats your lunch. If some form of government intervention, then does this not discourage inventiveness? Why should I even think about improving the hammer when I could just get hammered myself instead?

I don't know about Theshville, but inventions are fun, and they reward you with status-seeking-associated pleasures no less than conspicuous consumption ("wealth") does.

Still, to do useful inventions, you need to be a kind of capital by yourself, in the sense that someone needs to invest a lot of resources into your training. It could be a huge problem to 'laissez-faire' capitalist economics, but not a problem to "socialist" capitalism of Europe.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Social safety nets reduce overall wealth and may actually further limit practical choices.
Citation needed. The reason we have social safety nets is because wealth inequality reduces overall wealth and reduces practical choices.

For US healthcare/employment ties limiting choice: "CBS/New York Times poll, 30 percent of respondents answered "Yes" to the question, "Have you or anyone else in your household ever decided to stay in a job you wanted to leave mainly because you didn't want to lose health coverage?"
[New York Times, September 6, 1991].

That's akin to saying: "High income limits practical choices because you don't want to lose it".

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:35 pm UTC

Given that libertarians are against consumer protections if it limits choices, as in the example of payday loans, title loans, other predatory loans etc etc. What about the Military Lending Act? It's prevents dealers from marketing gap insurance when you buy a car. The price from a dealer is often in excess of$1000. The price from the auto insurance is$30. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/13/63799238 ... r-military
Should soldiers have to have the freedom to pay more for insurance from an aggressive Auto dealer?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:46 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Except, when you initially posted about it, it was in response to a request for a *non-exploitative* servitude contract.
I don't think the military contract is exploitative. You agree to these terms, which include the possibility of going to war and the possibility of not having your talents used the way you'd like and the possibility of having various body parts blown off... in exchange for a free education and whatever, which you consider to be better than the alternative (which the military did not create for you. Yes, in some cases the marketing is... less than forthright. But this is true of all marketing, and that's a rant for a different thread.


It's particularly important when you've signed up for a contract of x years, and now are stuck. While it's a great deal easier to get out of the military now than in the past, it's not always to the standards of at-will employment, and it's been worse in the past. If a shady place advertises for work, and you show up, and realize it's door to door sales but they didn't say so...it's annoying, but ultimately you walk out, and have wasted a modest amount of time. The military has a longer contract. So, false advertising is significantly more important.

The draft is still legal, too. Unlikely at present, sure, but can the draft be exploitative? I think so. Essentially, it's being used to circumvent the market. Workers are telling you that they do not view the pay as compensating for the risks. Now, maybe one can make the case that the ends "winning ww2" are worth the exploitation, but still. It's less than ideal. Plus, not every war is ww2, some are Vietnam.

The military is necessary, but that doesn't mean everything the military does is morally just.

The point isn't whether I consider it exploitative; if that were the case then the discussion would be about what it is that constitutes exploitation in a contract - any contract. And to be fair, every contract includes exploitation.


To some degree, we are talking about that. Folks have suggested that a variety of arrangements can be exploitative. Now, I don't see work as exploitative provided certain conditions exist, but it's definitely an idea others have advanced.

Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:"It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible", after all.

I think it is a common misconception. "Free market" is not a stable macroeconomic structure, but an idealized state of the market conditions. "No monopolies" is not a consequence of this state, but an a prerequisite to it. So far, at least to me, it looks like - on finite-sized markets - it is an unstable state, and will degrade to monopolies and/or to a systemic intervention from non-market forces.


This hasn't happened with say, farming. There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture. I'm not sure it's flat-out impossible, and retaining anti-monopoly law just in case seems reasonable, but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.

If it's flat out impossible or not is a cause for some debate, but ultimately, that seems to be mostly theoretical. Pretty much everyone is on board with monopolies being bad, so banning them isn't really a problem.

Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Social safety nets reduce overall wealth and may actually further limit practical choices.
Citation needed. The reason we have social safety nets is because wealth inequality reduces overall wealth and reduces practical choices.

For US healthcare/employment ties limiting choice: "CBS/New York Times poll, 30 percent of respondents answered "Yes" to the question, "Have you or anyone else in your household ever decided to stay in a job you wanted to leave mainly because you didn't want to lose health coverage?"
[New York Times, September 6, 1991].

That's akin to saying: "High income limits practical choices because you don't want to lose it".


To a degree, that's true. You always *can* choose to be poor, to not have health ailments treated, etc. However, these are not usually desirable or popular options, so while sure, you can do that, those are not the sort of freedoms that need a lot of defending. If a rich person decides to give it all up, and go backpacking without possessions, he can do that under most forms of law. Same with a person deciding not to take care of health issues.

Still, there's an important difference in that the relationship between health insurance and employment is not intrinsic in the way that wealth/high paying job is. It's a relationship added by incentives via law. If it's an undesirable relationship, which I propose it is, then we ought to rethink how we approach it.

The Affordable Care Act has *somewhat* mitigated that relationship, but the overall result of our health care system is still not a very free market.

sardia wrote:Given that libertarians are against consumer protections if it limits choices, as in the example of payday loans, title loans, other predatory loans etc etc. What about the Military Lending Act? It's prevents dealers from marketing gap insurance when you buy a car. The price from a dealer is often in excess of$1000. The price from the auto insurance is$30. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/13/63799238 ... r-military
Should soldiers have to have the freedom to pay more for insurance from an aggressive Auto dealer?


Short answer "yes". Long answer, the law probably doesn't matter. The car dealership is offering a service at an unreasonably high rate. If it's not okay for servicemembers, why is okay for anyone else?

On the flip side, the military probably shouldn't help with debt collection on it's members to the extent that it does. The military is a very strange subset of society in some ways. There's a ton of paternalism baked into it.

We should also axe a lot of the legal protections that auto sales places get(such as anti-competitive laws preventing manufacturers from selling direct). If you gut the protections, they'll be far less able to be exploitative.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:23 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.


There's no good reason that should be the case, unless barriers to entry go up as the markets mature (which they shouldn't, but obviously do), which would be consistent with a trend towards monopolization. When it comes to farms, the government heavily subsidizes them, and there is still a trend towards fewer farms. Again, no good reason why we would be better having fewer farms, except for the bargaining power advantage that owning more wealth gives you.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:43 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Yanno, I'm just gonna drop it. I've said what I said; there's no point in derailing the thread with where this is going. If it makes you feel better, I'll just withdraw it all.

Sorry for being mistaken.

Jose

In all the excitement, I'd forgotten that the payment for the indentured servitude was, essentially, one lump sum. As someone else pointed out after all this, in the Military you receive a regular salary AND the current education thing.

So for it to be an indentured servitude contract for seven (7) years of military service in exchange for education, to meet what the typical entry-level soldier makes now, you'd also need to throw in a lump sum of $200,000. Just education alone wouldn't be worth 7 years.

Tyndmyr wrote:Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture. I'm not sure it's flat-out impossible, and retaining anti-monopoly law just in case seems reasonable, but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.
How do you figure?

sardia wrote:Given that libertarians are against consumer protections if it limits choices, as in the example of payday loans, title loans, other predatory loans etc etc. What about the Military Lending Act? It's prevents dealers from marketing gap insurance when you buy a car. The price from a dealer is often in excess of$1000. The price from the auto insurance is$30. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/13/63799238 ... r-military
Should soldiers have to have the freedom to pay more for insurance from an aggressive Auto dealer?


Short answer "yes". Long answer, the law probably doesn't matter. The car dealership is offering a service at an unreasonably high rate. If it's not okay for servicemembers, why is okay for anyone else?

On the flip side, the military probably shouldn't help with debt collection on it's members to the extent that it does. The military is a very strange subset of society in some ways. There's a ton of paternalism baked into it.

We should also axe a lot of the legal protections that auto sales places get(such as anti-competitive laws preventing manufacturers from selling direct). If you gut the protections, they'll be far less able to be exploitative.


I've never liked that about Libertarianism. The whole "If you were too stupid to see this was a scam, you deserve to be scammed, dumbass" mentality of it. I get the issues some people have wherein they feel they're being stifled by the Goverment and not allowed to do what they want when they want how they want because it doesn't affect anyone... I won't get in to how it usually seems to affect everyone (like the jackass in Oregon people always point to when they bitch about The Goverment stopping them from having a water barrel [spoiler, no one anywhere in the US gives a single shit if you have a rain barrel for personal use - and several places reward you])... but assuming that the activity really doesn't affect anyone else, I get being irritated at the activity being illegal.

I don't get the irritation at being told that, no, you cannot legally fuck someone for all they're worth just because they are inexperienced with contracts and unaware they're being fucked for all they're worth and then some. At least, not without assuming that Libertarians on the whole are just wanting for it to be socially acceptable for them to fuck over everyone they possibly meet for a small advantage.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:28 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:At least, not without assuming that Libertarians on the whole are just wanting for it to be socially acceptable for them to fuck over everyone they possibly meet for a small advantage.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:24 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.


There's no good reason that should be the case, unless barriers to entry go up as the markets mature (which they shouldn't, but obviously do), which would be consistent with a trend towards monopolization. When it comes to farms, the government heavily subsidizes them, and there is still a trend towards fewer farms. Again, no good reason why we would be better having fewer farms, except for the bargaining power advantage that owning more wealth gives you.


Efficiencies of scale are a significant reason for market consolidation. At the low end, one tractor will handle ten acres as efficiently as it handles one. Therefore, the ten acre farm beats out the one acre farm. Depending on the type of efficiency booster we're talking about, there are different levels at which they plateau, but eventually a tractor is doing as many acres as it reasonably can, and adding additional acres requires another tractor and operator. So, up to a certain point, consolidation is favored.

SecondTalon wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture. I'm not sure it's flat-out impossible, and retaining anti-monopoly law just in case seems reasonable, but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.
How do you figure?


An easy example of at least localized monopolization is ISPs. Something like 129mil Americans have only one practical option for ISPs*. Sure, dial up/expensive sat is also available, but choice in this market is not great. A good bit of this is due to government interference. Specifically, local loop unbundling via a court case**/FCC regulations. Thus, you've got a period from about '96 to '04 where there was a fair bit of competition, and growth happened, but that's largely been undone. I'd view the repeal of net neutrality as another recent step in reducing competition.

*https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjdjd4/100-million-americans-only-have-one-isp-option-internet-broadband-net-neutrality
**https://transition.fcc.gov/ogc/documents/opinions/2004/00-1012-030204.pdf

If you're asking why the consolidation hits a limit, the above explanation applies, and various folks have tried to formalize rules to better understand this*. The Rule of Three is also on wiki and elsewhere, but I view it as more of a rule of thumb than an ironclad law. It may not always be exactly that, it merely trends toward that as a result of a range of factors. Screw with the factors enough, and the effect may diminish or vanish.

*https://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/competitive-markets-and-the-rule-of-three/

SecondTalon wrote:I've never liked that about Libertarianism. The whole "If you were too stupid to see this was a scam, you deserve to be scammed, dumbass" mentality of it. I get the issues some people have wherein they feel they're being stifled by the Goverment and not allowed to do what they want when they want how they want because it doesn't affect anyone... I won't get in to how it usually seems to affect everyone (like the jackass in Oregon people always point to when they bitch about The Goverment stopping them from having a water barrel [spoiler, no one anywhere in the US gives a single shit if you have a rain barrel for personal use - and several places reward you])... but assuming that the activity really doesn't affect anyone else, I get being irritated at the activity being illegal.

I don't get the irritation at being told that, no, you cannot legally fuck someone for all they're worth just because they are inexperienced with contracts and unaware they're being fucked for all they're worth and then some. At least, not without assuming that Libertarians on the whole are just wanting for it to be socially acceptable for them to fuck over everyone they possibly meet for a small advantage.


This is another case in which I feel that Libertarians pointing out that a given fix is a crap fix gets somehow conflated with defending the problem. I posted exactly zero words defending car dealers.

In this particular instance, I'm in agreement that the practice constitutes a problem. I just don't think the proposed solution is a good way of fixing it.

First off, it's fixing it only for military members. If it's scammy, is it not scammy for everyone? Why should military members alone not be scammed?

Second, it's a bandaid sort of fix. The market is so broken in this regard that dealers can get away with charging folks a ridiculous amount. Shouldn't we break up their protective regulations then? A market that can get away with that probably doesn't need further protectionism. This is not the only area in which car dealers scam people, we ought to deal with the general case rather than this ridiculously specific slice.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:35 pm UTC

So the defense of libertarians enabling bad behavior, is that wiping the slate clean will mean the old problems don't apply. Instead we should criticize any new problems that don't exist yet because libertarian government isn't a thing yet?

Military people are seen as vulnerable because they are too busy overseas to defend their financial well being. You were in the military, you never saw anyone abuse the lack of attention because of their service in the military? Also the whole service to the country thing. It sounds much more deserving than welfare, even though it's often the same people.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:37 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:An easy example of at least localized monopolization is ISPs. Something like 129mil Americans have only one practical option for ISPs*. Sure, dial up/expensive sat is also available, but choice in this market is not great. A good bit of this is due to government interference. Specifically, local loop unbundling via a court case**/FCC regulations. Thus, you've got a period from about '96 to '04 where there was a fair bit of competition, and growth happened, but that's largely been undone. I'd view the repeal of net neutrality as another recent step in reducing competition.

*https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjdjd4/100-million-americans-only-have-one-isp-option-internet-broadband-net-neutrality
**https://transition.fcc.gov/ogc/documents/opinions/2004/00-1012-030204.pdf

If you're asking why the consolidation hits a limit, the above explanation applies, and various folks have tried to formalize rules to better understand this*. The Rule of Three is also on wiki and elsewhere, but I view it as more of a rule of thumb than an ironclad law. It may not always be exactly that, it merely trends toward that as a result of a range of factors. Screw with the factors enough, and the effect may diminish or vanish.

*https://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/competitive-markets-and-the-rule-of-three/


Okay, I think I misunderstood you there. I was under the impression that you were stating, without any controls from Government, that markets would somewhat stabilize with five or six big dogs carving out territory and a few small fry operators doing their thing either in the small cracks between the big guys or within their markets but doing something they could not.

Instead, you appear to be saying that thanks to Government anti-monopoly regulations (which are being eroded constantly), we're thankfully in a situation where there's at least three or four big dogs providing the market because they legally cannot join together or purchase the other parts of their business as that's literally the only thing stopping them now, and their current size is about as large as the Government is comfortable with them getting. Which isn't something I disagree with. I also think the monopoly regulations need shoring up, but that's a whole different conversation.

I mean, find someone over the age of 60 and ask them about Ma Bell if you want to know how fucked things can get when one company is in charge.

This is another case in which I feel that Libertarians pointing out that a given fix is a crap fix gets somehow conflated with defending the problem. I posted exactly zero words defending car dealers.

I didn't really mention car dealers either. But it was the bit that got me putting in to words some of the things I found uncomfortable with Libertarian Government advocates.

It's a common theme I see in Libertarian arguments - that a contract, no matter how unfair or predatory - should be unbroken by Government because both parties knew what they were getting in to when they signed it. That there's no reason for Government to get involved in agreements between two people, two companies, a company and a person, etc - because "Bad Actors" are going to be removed by the Invisible Hand, leaving only the "Good Actors" for people to deal with.

My response to that being a load of horsecrap can be summarized as "All of Human History, from earliest record to August 12th, 2018 CE" as even with Government protections there's still a shitload of bad actors out there. As you say, that it's illegal for military personnel is good and probably means it shouldn't be legal in the first place. However, what loans are allowed is largely controlled by the individual State - banning it for military is about the only way the US Government can ban the practice, as soldiers are the closest thing we have to Citizens who do not reside in a particular US State but still reside in the US.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Efficiencies of scale are a significant reason for market consolidation. At the low end, one tractor will handle ten acres as efficiently as it handles one. Therefore, the ten acre farm beats out the one acre farm. Depending on the type of efficiency booster we're talking about, there are different levels at which they plateau, but eventually a tractor is doing as many acres as it reasonably can, and adding additional acres requires another tractor and operator. So, up to a certain point, consolidation is favored.


We are talking who owns the land, not how labor and equipment is organized; this has nothing to do with economies of scale. Hell, there is no reason one tractor can't serve fifty different farms as they are completely independent things.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:52 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Efficiencies of scale are a significant reason for market consolidation. At the low end, one tractor will handle ten acres as efficiently as it handles one. Therefore, the ten acre farm beats out the one acre farm. Depending on the type of efficiency booster we're talking about, there are different levels at which they plateau, but eventually a tractor is doing as many acres as it reasonably can, and adding additional acres requires another tractor and operator. So, up to a certain point, consolidation is favored.


We are talking who owns the land, not how labor and equipment is organized; this has nothing to do with economies of scale. Hell, there is no reason one tractor can't serve fifty different farms as they are completely independent things.


Sure, in theory, fifty people can share one asset, and if done perfectly efficiently, things work out.

However, in practice, the farmer who farms fifty plots is farming one giant monoculture, probably. Doesn't need to swap attachments, adjust the seat and mirrors, there's no quibbling about who has to gas it up, or schedule conflicts. He just does the next acres that need planting/spraying/whatever.

And thus in practice, we see that ownership does matter for efficiencies of scale. Fifty people simply cannot be organized to be as unified as a single person.

SecondTalon wrote:Okay, I think I misunderstood you there. I was under the impression that you were stating, without any controls from Government, that markets would somewhat stabilize with five or six big dogs carving out territory and a few small fry operators doing their thing either in the small cracks between the big guys or within their markets but doing something they could not.

Instead, you appear to be saying that thanks to Government anti-monopoly regulations (which are being eroded constantly), we're thankfully in a situation where there's at least three or four big dogs providing the market because they legally cannot join together or purchase the other parts of their business as that's literally the only thing stopping them now, and their current size is about as large as the Government is comfortable with them getting. Which isn't something I disagree with. I also think the monopoly regulations need shoring up, but that's a whole different conversation.

I mean, find someone over the age of 60 and ask them about Ma Bell if you want to know how fucked things can get when one company is in charge.


The effect appears to exist without anti-monopoly regulations as well.

That said, keeping existing anti-monopoly regulation is fine, as is stepping up protections against regulatory capture. Net neutrality would be nice.

This is another case in which I feel that Libertarians pointing out that a given fix is a crap fix gets somehow conflated with defending the problem. I posted exactly zero words defending car dealers.

I didn't really mention car dealers either.

It's a common theme I see in Libertarian arguments - that a contract, no matter how unfair or predatory - should be unbroken by Government because both parties knew what they were getting in to when they signed it. That there's no reason for Government to get involved in agreements between two people, two companies, a company and a person, etc - because "Bad Actors" are going to be removed by the Invisible Hand, leaving only the "Good Actors" for people to deal with.

My response to that being a load of horsecrap can be summarized as "All of Human History, from earliest record to August 12th, 2018 CE" as even with Government protections there's still a shitload of bad actors out there. As you say, that it's illegal for military personnel is good and probably means it shouldn't be legal in the first place. However, what loans are allowed is largely controlled by the individual State - banning it for military is about the only way the US Government can ban the practice, as soldiers are the closest thing we have to Citizens who do not reside in a particular US State but still reside in the US.


Eh, the interstate commerce cause has been stretched further before(though I don't think it ought to be) than banning a particular kind of transaction.

But look at it this way. Is gap insurance, by itself, immoral? Of course not. Is having the car dealership be the person to sell it immoral? Most people don't seem bothered by that. If it were the same price as anywhere else, nobody would really care all that much.

The sign of trouble is the prices diverging greatly from market. But oddly, that's not the step we're banning.

Let's take a step back and look at the sign of trouble? Why is this price discrepancy so? Because they imply that this is a limited time opportunity. You leave the lot with your new car, and you're not covered, why, disaster will strike. They are leveraging their position selling the car to upcharge the crap out of everything else. Gap insurance is an obvious example, but pretty much everything the dealership talks you into with the car is going to be upcharged to hell and back. They will at every opportunity attempt to remove choice from this. Oh, sorry, those options are already installed on the car. Can't sell you without them(these are dealer added options applied to their entire inventory).

So, given all that, why not buy a new car elsewhere? Ah, yes. That's right. Because they have a government-granted monopoly. If people could simply get the pricing they wanted online, and have the car dropped off on their doorstep, then the entire system of leverage vanishes.

This law does fuck-all to threaten that system.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:04 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:It's a common theme I see in Libertarian arguments - that a contract, no matter how unfair or predatory - should be unbroken by Government because both parties knew what they were getting in to when they signed it. That there's no reason for Government to get involved in agreements between two people, two companies, a company and a person, etc - because "Bad Actors" are going to be removed by the Invisible Hand, leaving only the "Good Actors" for people to deal with.


The main thing libertarianism seems to be about is avoiding taking responsibility for how your actions affect others (AKA taking personal responsibility). As a consumer, you are just buying what the capitalists make - they all exploit labor, so it's not like you have a choice but to exploit people. Capitalists don't really have a choice either, of course, since they need to be competitive; if they don't exploit labor, then the companies who do will just win. As for those exploitative contracts - well, we can't really do anything about that without government, and if we get involved then we have to take responsibility, so it's best to leave it to the markets.

Tyndmyr wrote:And thus in practice, we see that ownership does matter for efficiencies of scale. Fifty people simply cannot be organized to be as unified as a single person.


Now we are back to you just saying that most people are too stupid to act in their best interest, and only a strong leader can tell them what to do. We are back to your core belief: democracy is bad, and people are stupid, but the rules of capitalism will select the best people to rule over the economy.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:09 pm UTC

Well, yes. We do appear to agree that in the issue of the law covering certain individuals and not all individuals is wrong.

Throwing out the law is not helpful. Throwing out the law appears to be the Libertarian stance.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:20 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:It's a common theme I see in Libertarian arguments - that a contract, no matter how unfair or predatory - should be unbroken by Government because both parties knew what they were getting in to when they signed it. That there's no reason for Government to get involved in agreements between two people, two companies, a company and a person, etc - because "Bad Actors" are going to be removed by the Invisible Hand, leaving only the "Good Actors" for people to deal with.


The main thing libertarianism seems to be about is avoiding taking responsibility for how your actions affect others (AKA taking personal responsibility). As a consumer, you are just buying what the capitalists make - they all exploit labor, so it's not like you have a choice but to exploit people. Capitalists don't really have a choice either, of course, since they need to be competitive; if they don't exploit labor, then the companies who do will just win. As for those exploitative contracts - well, we can't really do anything about that without government, and if we get involved then we have to take responsibility, so it's best to leave it to the markets.


Not really. Yes, people do have freedom to make contracts, but fraud, deception, etc endanger contracts, and need to be managed as normal(via being sued for damages, etc in a pretty standard sense). That's not an invisible hand mechanism making it work, it's a pretty straightforward justice system.

Market mechanisms are powerful, and should be employed where possible, but the idea that they are responsible for absolutely everything in libertarian thought is a bit of a straw man.

You don't have a functioning market to begin with if you don't deal with other problems.

Tyndmyr wrote:And thus in practice, we see that ownership does matter for efficiencies of scale. Fifty people simply cannot be organized to be as unified as a single person.


Now we are back to you just saying that most people are too stupid to act in their best interest, and only a strong leader can tell them what to do. We are back to your core belief: democracy is bad, and people are stupid, but the rules of capitalism will select the best people to rule over the economy.


This isn't stupidity, it's just human individuality. Fifty people having a greater diversity of desires and needs than a single person is just an innate result of there being fifty of them. It doesn't mean the fifty are stupid.

Sometimes that diversity of thought can be an asset, sometimes it can be a hindrance. Organizing people takes time, yet fifty minds working on a problem is generally better than one.

Unfortunately, fifty minds do not make a single tractor more capable. It's not the right kind of problem for their advantages to matter. The single tractor is still only capable of x acres/day, and the overhead resulting for organizing them into some sort of system is an inefficiency. It's not something evil or exploitive, and the government is in no way responsible for getting rid of small farms, but we shouldn't be surprised that market consolidation occurs to some degree.

SecondTalon wrote:Well, yes. We do appear to agree that in the issue of the law covering certain individuals and not all individuals is wrong.

Throwing out the law is not helpful. Throwing out the law appears to be the Libertarian stance.


We're definitely in agreement on the first. Equality under the law is a pretty important principle. If you start making laws for only certain people, or only certain classes of people, the potential damage that can result can be very widespread indeed.

As for tossing out the law, it depends on the law. Some law desperately needs to be thrown out. Some's essential to keep. Libertarians would certainly like a great deal less law in total, but it's not a commodity. The effects of law vary wildly. However, layering on patch after patch, often from conflicting ideologies, results in a complex mish mash which tends to favor those who happen to already have power. Cynically, this law appears to mostly benefit only those with power. Politicians get to have a nice "support the troops" moment, nothing about the car dealership industry is actually threatened all that much, and business continues as normal. Troops probably get fleeced in some marginally different way, and everyone else is fleeced as normal. Additional law has accrued, and the regulatory world become more complex, but the fundamental problems are unchanged.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:It's a common theme I see in Libertarian arguments - that a contract, no matter how unfair or predatory - should be unbroken by Government because both parties knew what they were getting in to when they signed it. That there's no reason for Government to get involved in agreements between two people, two companies, a company and a person, etc - because "Bad Actors" are going to be removed by the Invisible Hand, leaving only the "Good Actors" for people to deal with.


The main thing libertarianism seems to be about is avoiding taking responsibility for how your actions affect others (AKA taking personal responsibility). As a consumer, you are just buying what the capitalists make - they all exploit labor, so it's not like you have a choice but to exploit people. Capitalists don't really have a choice either, of course, since they need to be competitive; if they don't exploit labor, then the companies who do will just win. As for those exploitative contracts - well, we can't really do anything about that without government, and if we get involved then we have to take responsibility, so it's best to leave it to the markets.


Not really. Yes, people do have freedom to make contracts, but fraud, deception, etc endanger contracts, and need to be managed as normal(via being sued for damages, etc in a pretty standard sense). That's not an invisible hand mechanism making it work, it's a pretty straightforward justice system.


Yes, yes, yes, I know; bargaining power differences are dismissible.

Tyndmyr wrote:This isn't stupidity, it's just human individuality. Fifty people having a greater diversity of desires and needs than a single person is just an innate result of there being fifty of them. It doesn't mean the fifty are stupid.


We are talking about farm organization. Human individuality has nothing to do with it. You are saying that the fifty people will fail to realize that it's better to just hire people to manage any aspect of the farm, and that they will fail to do as good of a job as the businessman the market selects to own the land. Further, the fact that everyone has different concerns doesn't justify appointing a random individual and ignoring the concerns of others.

Tyndmyr wrote:Sometimes that diversity of thought can be an asset, sometimes it can be a hindrance. Organizing people takes time, yet fifty minds working on a problem is generally better than one.


Organizing people is something you have to do once and it's done. We are talking about why there is a good reason for farms to consolidate ownership.

Tyndmyr wrote:Unfortunately, fifty minds do not make a single tractor more capable. It's not the right kind of problem for their advantages to matter. The single tractor is still only capable of x acres/day, and the overhead resulting for organizing them into some sort of system is an inefficiency. It's not something evil or exploitive, and the government is in no way responsible for getting rid of small farms, but we shouldn't be surprised that market consolidation occurs to some degree.


What in the fuck is this nonsense? I thought we agreed that there was no reason to tie a tractor to a farm. In fact, it's obvious that the more farms can organize, work together, and use the same equipment, the more efficient they will be.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:42 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:This isn't stupidity, it's just human individuality. Fifty people having a greater diversity of desires and needs than a single person is just an innate result of there being fifty of them. It doesn't mean the fifty are stupid.


We are talking about farm organization. Human individuality has nothing to do with it. You are saying that the fifty people will fail to realize that it's better to just hire people to manage any aspect of the farm, and that they will fail to do as good of a job as the businessman the market selects to own the land. Further, the fact that everyone has different concerns doesn't justify appointing a random individual and ignoring the concerns of others.


No. I'm saying that fifty people are going to handle things fifty different ways. Or at least a variety of different ways.

This doesn't imply that those ways are stupid. They may merely be different.

Tyndmyr wrote:Sometimes that diversity of thought can be an asset, sometimes it can be a hindrance. Organizing people takes time, yet fifty minds working on a problem is generally better than one.


Organizing people is something you have to do once and it's done. We are talking about why there is a good reason for farms to consolidate ownership.


Organizing people is an ongoing task. There may be more involvement necessary during initial setup, but individual needs change, and ongoing communication is necessary in any organization.

Managing a group of fifty people will take more time than managing one.

Tyndmyr wrote:Unfortunately, fifty minds do not make a single tractor more capable. It's not the right kind of problem for their advantages to matter. The single tractor is still only capable of x acres/day, and the overhead resulting for organizing them into some sort of system is an inefficiency. It's not something evil or exploitive, and the government is in no way responsible for getting rid of small farms, but we shouldn't be surprised that market consolidation occurs to some degree.


What in the fuck is this nonsense? I thought we agreed that there was no reason to tie a tractor to a farm. In fact, it's obvious that the more farms can organize, work together, and use the same equipment, the more efficient they will be.


Fifty individual farmers with a shared tractor and one acre each are going to be more efficient than they would be without the tractor sharing.

A single farmer who owns all fifty acres and the tractor will be more efficient still. He doesn't need to have a conversation about time sharing the tractor, or what happens if one farmer is running late, or anything else, really.

In this way we see a natural efficiency of scale that tops out at about the most acres a single farmer can reasonably manage with a tractor.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:49 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:No. I'm saying that fifty people are going to handle things fifty different ways. Or at least a variety of different ways.

This doesn't imply that those ways are stupid. They may merely be different.


You said that they will be less efficient, and that a single person will be more efficient. Obviously you believe in the power of a strong leader, over the ability of people to work together.

Tyndmyr wrote:Organizing people is an ongoing task. There may be more involvement necessary during initial setup, but individual needs change, and ongoing communication is necessary in any organization.

Managing a group of fifty people will take more time than managing one.


Huh?

Tyndmyr wrote:Fifty individual farmers with a shared tractor and one acre each are going to be more efficient than they would be without the tractor sharing.

A single farmer who owns all fifty acres and the tractor will be more efficient still. He doesn't need to have a conversation about time sharing the tractor, or what happens if one farmer is running late, or anything else, really.


Like, literally, there is no physical difference between these two situations. You are literally saying that a single person will organize things better than a group of people. Nothing else.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:56 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:No. I'm saying that fifty people are going to handle things fifty different ways. Or at least a variety of different ways.

This doesn't imply that those ways are stupid. They may merely be different.


You said that they will be less efficient, and that a single person will be more efficient. Obviously you believe in the power of a strong leader, over the ability of people to work together.


Honestly, one person working by himself isn't really being a leader. But yes, a single farmer will utilize a tractor and a given plot of land more efficiently than fifty.

This does not require any special properties on the part of the one. This is just a result of coordination requiring effort.

Tyndmyr wrote:Organizing people is an ongoing task. There may be more involvement necessary during initial setup, but individual needs change, and ongoing communication is necessary in any organization.

Managing a group of fifty people will take more time than managing one.


Huh?


Alright, you've got fifty farmers, all running one acre farms. So, you decide to use the tractor in turns, right? Make a schedule, figure out how to deconflict fifty people's different needs.

Cool, now someone's needs change. Maybe he has to leave town for that weekend on short notice. Perhaps a family member is sick. However, it's his only crack at the tractor for planting season. He must now arrange a swap or similar with someone else. This sort of communication is necessary and ongoing when you have a large number of people in such an arrangement.

The scenario where it's one dude and the tractor, he needs to communicate with nobody. His task is easier.

Tyndmyr wrote:Fifty individual farmers with a shared tractor and one acre each are going to be more efficient than they would be without the tractor sharing.

A single farmer who owns all fifty acres and the tractor will be more efficient still. He doesn't need to have a conversation about time sharing the tractor, or what happens if one farmer is running late, or anything else, really.


Like, literally, there is no physical difference between these two situations. You are literally saying that a single person will organize things better than a group of people. Nothing else.


Organizing people is a task that costs time and effort. The single dude doesn't have to do that.

I'm not sure what's contentious here.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:As for tossing out the law, it depends on the law. Some law desperately needs to be thrown out. Some's essential to keep. Libertarians would certainly like a great deal less law in total, but it's not a commodity. The effects of law vary wildly. However, layering on patch after patch, often from conflicting ideologies, results in a complex mish mash which tends to favor those who happen to already have power.

Not just that, but people who have been trained to read law.

At any rate, the intention remains - if my intention is to add a goldfish pond to my yard and the hole is too deep or too wide (or both), or I cannot keep the goldfish alive, or neighborhood hawks or children keep killing the goldfish, the solution isn't to dump dirt in the hole and forget it ever happened - the solution is going to vary and, sure, worst case is I dump dirt in the hole.... as part of the process of digging a new one. I don't just stop.

Same deal - you don't just stop when you throw the law out - that's step 2, which is followed by steps 3-9 that draft a new law for whatever the original problem was.

... regarding the tractor, in a situation where 50 acres exist, owned by 50 people in a close geographic area.... typically you just work the whole thing in one lump then split the income 50 ways. So no one gives a shit if Bob goes on vacation because Tom, Jerry, Sally, Frank, Samantha, and Carl were plowing or planting or whatever that week. For the record.

Mostly because trying to do it as 50 separate fields cuts in to your profits too much. Those border bits add up.

Even if they aren't connected, you'd still do it in that sort of fashion as the headache of moving it around is just too great.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:08 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:No. I'm saying that fifty people are going to handle things fifty different ways. Or at least a variety of different ways.

This doesn't imply that those ways are stupid. They may merely be different.


You said that they will be less efficient, and that a single person will be more efficient. Obviously you believe in the power of a strong leader, over the ability of people to work together.


Honestly, one person working by himself isn't really being a leader. But yes, a single farmer will utilize a tractor and a given plot of land more efficiently than fifty.

This does not require any special properties on the part of the one. This is just a result of coordination requiring effort.


Are you assuming that all farms are exclusively managed by the owners? I really don't have a clue what you are talking about.

Tyndmyr wrote:Alright, you've got fifty farmers, all running one acre farms. So, you decide to use the tractor in turns, right? Make a schedule, figure out how to deconflict fifty people's different needs.

Cool, now someone's needs change. Maybe he has to leave town for that weekend on short notice. Perhaps a family member is sick. However, it's his only crack at the tractor for planting season. He must now arrange a swap or similar with someone else. This sort of communication is necessary and ongoing when you have a large number of people in such an arrangement.

The scenario where it's one dude and the tractor, he needs to communicate with nobody. His task is easier.


So, again, here is you specifically attempting to think up a bad way to manage things, and assuming that if it's a group of people they will do it that way, but if it's one person they will do better. You seem to assume that people in groups are too stupid to act in their best interest.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Like, literally, there is no physical difference between these two situations. You are literally saying that a single person will organize things better than a group of people. Nothing else.


Organizing people is a task that costs time and effort. The single dude doesn't have to do that.

I'm not sure what's contentious here.


So you are no longer saying it's the physical equipment, but instead it is the organizational overhead, and that because they are a group of people they are too stupid to form a single organization to manage it?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:31 pm UTC

The physical equipment is the source of the efficiency, but how it's used determines how much efficiency you can extract as a result. Sure, in a perfect world, maybe the tractor could do x if you ran it 24/7, but that won't happen in practice.

The farmer organization example is true even if the fifty people decide to manage their land collectively. Sure, they can do that, but they still need to spend some time coordinating. Even if only one person drives the tractor in the end, and they vote on who it is, the tractor doesn't become more efficient as a result, and coordination required some time and effort, and will require some on an ongoing basis. The solo operator has no such overhead.

Incidentally, organizational communication is a factor *against* consolidation in other cases. As corporations get very large, it's harder for those in charge to understand what is going on in distant parts of the organization. This can be counteracted in some cases by relying on policy, but that can have efficiency tradeoffs where the policy doesn't make sense. Pretty much anyone who's ever worked retail will have stories to tell about well intentioned policies that simply didn't work in a sane fashion for some portion of the customers. A given policy might be obviously flawed to everyone on the sales floor, but so many layers of management exist between policy makers and workers that communication becomes difficult. Inefficiency can become significant, and contribute to a company being unable to grow further, or even collapse if sufficiently over-extended. Obviously, the far end of the spectrum from the solo farmer, but it's relevant if we're talking about number of players in a market.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby cphite » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Efficiencies of scale are a significant reason for market consolidation. At the low end, one tractor will handle ten acres as efficiently as it handles one. Therefore, the ten acre farm beats out the one acre farm. Depending on the type of efficiency booster we're talking about, there are different levels at which they plateau, but eventually a tractor is doing as many acres as it reasonably can, and adding additional acres requires another tractor and operator. So, up to a certain point, consolidation is favored.

We are talking who owns the land, not how labor and equipment is organized; this has nothing to do with economies of scale. Hell, there is no reason one tractor can't serve fifty different farms as they are completely independent things.


Sure, in theory, fifty people can share one asset, and if done perfectly efficiently, things work out.

However, in practice, the farmer who farms fifty plots is farming one giant monoculture, probably. Doesn't need to swap attachments, adjust the seat and mirrors, there's no quibbling about who has to gas it up, or schedule conflicts. He just does the next acres that need planting/spraying/whatever.


The trouble with sharing things like tractors and combines and the like is that, when you need them, you typically need them for long hours at a time over the span of days or weeks. One farm with fifty plots can decide for themselves how their equipment will be used - and how much equipment they actually need. With fifty individual farms, if you want to avoid making people wait in line, you're going to need almost the same number of tractors as you would need if people simply used their own... especially after you factor in things like wear and tear, time spent moving from farm to farm, etc.

What works somewhat better is sharing between regions... for example, a corn farm in Texas might harvest in August, and then rent their harvesters to Oklahoma in September, to Colorado in October, etc... that way it's a source of revenue for those months instead of sitting idle.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:36 pm UTC

I'm talking about farms in general, not just owner-operated. They are already organizations.

cphite wrote:...


You are making the same mistake of assuming that each farm is going to be completely 100% independent, except that they share tractors. That's not realistic.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:48 pm UTC

I'm considering the tractor example by itself for the time being as an example.

If they also work out sharing arrangements for other equipment, the same will hold true for those. Fifty one-acre farms will lose out to the one fifty-acre farm. Economies of scale are significant, and renting or sharing equipment will help make up some of the gap, but it certainly doesn't make up all of it.

It doesn't really matter if the farms are independent or not. They can take it in turns to manage the whole thing if they like, they've still got communication overhead.

With advancing automation, we might see some fun changes here as well. The quantity of productive wealth overseen by an individual might rise significantly, cutting some of the organizational costs. Farming's pretty mature, so I'm not seeing massive changes there, but slashing the worker count in a drive through establishment? Seems likely.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:02 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Even if only one person drives the tractor in the end, and they vote on who it is, the tractor doesn't become more efficient as a result, and coordination required some time and effort, and will require some on an ongoing basis. The solo operator has no such overhead.

I fail to see a distinction here. John is the Tractor-Master of the Collective, so John plows when he plows, repairs the tractor when it breaks down (and is reimbursed later).

How is that different from Ted, the solo Farmer? Other than needing to be reimbursed for repairs, the function is the same. You plant when you plant, you harvest when you harvest.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:20 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Even if only one person drives the tractor in the end, and they vote on who it is, the tractor doesn't become more efficient as a result, and coordination required some time and effort, and will require some on an ongoing basis. The solo operator has no such overhead.

I fail to see a distinction here. John is the Tractor-Master of the Collective, so John plows when he plows, repairs the tractor when it breaks down (and is reimbursed later).

How is that different from Ted, the solo Farmer? Other than needing to be reimbursed for repairs, the function is the same. You plant when you plant, you harvest when you harvest.


If John completely disregards everyone else and controls all fifty farms outright, then yes, he functions like Ted.

In that instance, the other 49 people are irrelevant, and their ownership means nothing.

This does not appear to be the scenario that Thesh was advancing.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:06 pm UTC

I wasn't advocating for any structure in particular. The point is that the actual efficiency and resource consumption has fuck-all to do with who owns the property itself. If the markets are efficient and lead to the most productive use of land, then property lines shouldn't even come into play.

You also explained how a large corporation can be less efficient, but pretty much every business tends towards corporate ownership - in the end, the bargaining power difference from size alone makes up for any losses in efficiency from the structure, and leads to a much less efficient allocation of resources. The bargaining power difference from having many large farms under a single organization far outweighs the productivity differences, and so they will continue on a trend towards larger and larger farms owned by fewer and fewer companies, even if it leads to lower productivity overall (after all, property owners are not paid for their productivity).
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:52 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I wasn't advocating for any structure in particular. The point is that the actual efficiency and resource consumption has fuck-all to do with who owns the property itself. If the markets are efficient and lead to the most productive use of land, then property lines shouldn't even come into play.


In theory, you often see very distinct property lines, as neighbors use land differently. Fences, even. Who owns the land appears to matter.

Your last sentence does not follow from the earlier ones. If it didn't matter who owned the land, then all systems of ownership would be equally efficient. If it does, we should expect varying results from different ownership models, and would need additional information to calculate which is best.

You also explained how a large corporation can be less efficient, but pretty much every business tends towards corporate ownership - in the end, the bargaining power difference from size alone makes up for any losses in efficiency from the structure, and leads to a much less efficient allocation of resources. The bargaining power difference from having many large farms under a single organization far outweighs the productivity differences, and so they will continue on a trend towards larger and larger farms owned by fewer and fewer companies, even if it leads to lower productivity overall (after all, property owners are not paid for their productivity).


Hang on. Nothing in the model you outline here is much like what I've talked about.

Bargaining power differences are not large. Bulk discounts do exist, but they are largely a result of shipping and handling costs, not bargaining power. Bargaining power usually only comes into play in extreme examples. Walmart can get some different pricing, sure*. Neither the 1 acre or the 50 acre farmer can force preferential pricing.

The belief that large companies benefit primarily from bargaining power, not from efficiencies of scale, appears to be the misconception that drives socialist views on large capitalist entities. After all, if bargaining power were the prime reason, then you would expect a monopoly to be the natural end state, as bargaining power gains importance as the number of market participants approaches 1.

In practice, negotiation is not nearly so large a part of business as television makes it out to be. Both of these kinds of farmers, as well as vastly larger farmers, are simply dropping their wheat off at the grain elevator for whatever the current price of wheat is. The grain elevators sell the future contracts that investors use to set the price. Negotiation doesn't matter much.

*Even for Walmart, a good chunk of that is because they run their own logistics backbone. Getting a better price because you've taken on more of the costs is an option for many businesses. The idea that size alone gives you power is...only minimally true.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Your last sentence does not follow from the earlier ones. If it didn't matter who owned the land, then all systems of ownership would be equally efficient. If it does, we should expect varying results from different ownership models, and would need additional information to calculate which is best.


It's evidence that private property ownership doesn't lead to efficient markets.

Tyndmyr wrote:Bargaining power differences are not large. Bulk discounts do exist, but they are largely a result of shipping and handling costs, not bargaining power. Bargaining power usually only comes into play in extreme examples. Walmart can get some different pricing, sure*. Neither the 1 acre or the 50 acre farmer can force preferential pricing.


It's a lot more than shipping and handling differences or economies of scale. I've worked for a company that sold to Walmart and Amazon - Amazon is able to buy for next to cost per unit, even before shipping and handling (that's all contracted out, and they get better deals on that as well). It's all huge differences that have nothing to do with production cost. It's about how much money they can get from each individual company, and Amazon has more bargaining power than others - they are big enough that it will impact overall sales if they walk away (those customers will just buy something else rather than buying your product from someone else). A smaller company has to hire another company, which is inevitably for-profit, and that company still doesn't get Amazon's prices. Just the fact that the economy depends so much on Amazon means that they can get a better deal.

When it comes to Walmart it's even worse, because they have limited product space, and so if you don't get the contract with Walmart specifically, you might not even be able to enter that industry. The only economies of scale that comes in is actually selling the same products in all of their stores, which the lack of competition means that it doesn't matter whether they are actually selling a better product. Since this is on a national level, it extremely limits the number of new and competing products on the market.

Tyndmyr wrote:The belief that large companies benefit primarily from bargaining power, not from efficiencies of scale, appears to be the misconception that drives socialist views on large capitalist entities. After all, if bargaining power were the prime reason, then you would expect a monopoly to be the natural end state, as bargaining power gains importance as the number of market participants approaches 1

In practice, negotiation is not nearly so large a part of business as television makes it out to be. Both of these kinds of farmers, as well as vastly larger farmers, are simply dropping their wheat off at the grain elevator for whatever the current price of wheat is. The grain elevators sell the future contracts that investors use to set the price. Negotiation doesn't matter much.


It's because farming is one of the simplest businesses to run. You can sell to pretty much anyone, very little intellectual property involved (although that's becoming a problem). It's just a lot easier to compete as a small farm than a restaurant, but the trend is still towards fewer players in farming and more and more national chains in restaurants. Eventually, it will come down to a handful of players who will find it in their best interest to merge. Sure, this takes time as people generally don't want to sell what they have unless they have a reason; recessions are great for this.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:58 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Your last sentence does not follow from the earlier ones. If it didn't matter who owned the land, then all systems of ownership would be equally efficient. If it does, we should expect varying results from different ownership models, and would need additional information to calculate which is best.


It's evidence that private property ownership doesn't lead to efficient markets.


That's a strange viewpoint. What, are you expecting that everyone uses their property perfectly and identically? That is unreasonable for any ideology, I think.

In any case, private property ownership is not the only necessary precondition to get a functioning market. Regulatory capture is an obvious case that can also disrupt a market.

Tyndmyr wrote:Bargaining power differences are not large. Bulk discounts do exist, but they are largely a result of shipping and handling costs, not bargaining power. Bargaining power usually only comes into play in extreme examples. Walmart can get some different pricing, sure*. Neither the 1 acre or the 50 acre farmer can force preferential pricing.


It's a lot more than shipping and handling differences or economies of scale. I've worked for a company that sold to Walmart and Amazon - Amazon is able to buy for next to cost per unit, even before shipping and handling (that's all contracted out, and they get better deals on that as well). It's all huge differences that have nothing to do with production cost. It's about how much money they can get from each individual company, and Amazon has more bargaining power than others - they are big enough that it will impact overall sales if they walk away (those customers will just buy something else rather than buying your product from someone else). A smaller company has to hire another company, which is inevitably for-profit, and that company still doesn't get Amazon's prices. Just the fact that the economy depends so much on Amazon means that they can get a better deal.


I notice you've switched from talking about farmers to talking about retailers. You haven't rebutted my claim that the size of the farm makes pretty much no difference to the price per pound of grain. If it's a universal effect of capitalism, you ought to see it in both places, yes?

Amazon/Walmart are large enough to have some unusual bargaining position. Even so, they both have their own distribution backbone. That's significant, and is an obvious source of efficiency through traditional efficiencies of scale. So, even for them, it appears they are fairly modest in terms of bargaining position, and it is not obvious that it is enough to compensate for inefficiencies elsewhere, as you claim it is. Note that historically, neither has had unusually high profits. Buying low in bulk is mostly necessary to pass those savings along.

People shop at Walmart largely because it's cheap, not because they enjoy the experience or what not. If the price advantage is lost, Walmart doesn't have a whole lot else. So, sure, they focus on bulk/distribution/price*.

*When buying labor, as well as when selling goods. Costco embraces a similar strategy for selling goods, but employs a different strategy for purchasing labor.

When it comes to Walmart it's even worse, because they have limited product space, and so if you don't get the contract with Walmart specifically, you might not even be able to enter that industry. The only economies of scale that comes in is actually selling the same products in all of their stores, which the lack of competition means that it doesn't matter whether they are actually selling a better product. Since this is on a national level, it extremely limits the number of new and competing products on the market.


In 2017, Amazon had 4% of all US retail sales, and Walmart had about 14.5%.

They do not have a "lack of competition".

It's because farming is one of the simplest businesses to run. You can sell to pretty much anyone, very little intellectual property involved (although that's becoming a problem). It's just a lot easier to compete as a small farm than a restaurant, but the trend is still towards fewer players in farming and more and more national chains in restaurants. Eventually, it will come down to a handful of players who will find it in their best interest to merge. Sure, this takes time as people generally don't want to sell what they have unless they have a reason; recessions are great for this.


If, as you say, this is inevitable, and consolidation never has an upper limit, then why hasn't it already gotten down to that end state? Farming isn't new. Why has it not already transpired?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What, are you expecting that everyone uses their property perfectly and identically? That is unreasonable for any ideology, I think.

In any case, private property ownership is not the only necessary precondition to get a functioning market. Regulatory capture is an obvious case that can also disrupt a market.


No, just that the most efficient use of that property isn't going to be dependent on the property lines. There are other farms selling other stuff; it doesn't have to be one national farm - there are diminishing returns for economies of scale. But there is no reason why small farms cannot organize their farms physically the same way as large farms. If it is best to all sell corn, then why isn't it better to plant and harvest together? Maybe you rotate these farms, and for a few seasons they act on smaller scales until the soil is right. It depends on what you are doing. Maybe you rent your tractor seasonally or weekly instead of hourly, and it's predictable enough that you don't have to deal with scheduling conflicts. Just because you don't already know how to do something without thinking about it doesn't mean that there isn't a way to do it if you think about it.

Tyndmyr wrote:I notice you've switched from talking about farmers to talking about retailers.


My understanding was that farms were just an example, and you're claiming bargaining power differences do not matter and that large organizations are generally preferred by the markets because they are actually more efficient, while talking about monopolies in general.

You would probably claim that it actually is more efficient to produce in China and ship here, rather than produce in-country and ship locally and that the reason it's cheaper has nothing to do with bargaining power differences.

Tyndmyr wrote:You haven't rebutted my claim that the size of the farm makes pretty much no difference to the price per pound of grain. If it's a universal effect of capitalism, you ought to see it in both places, yes?


No one has made claims to the contrary. I've said that where the property lines are drawn have nothing to do with how to best use the land, and that a hundred small farms should be able to act identically to if they were one large farm.

Tyndmyr wrote:Amazon/Walmart are large enough to have some unusual bargaining position. Even so, they both have their own distribution backbone. That's significant, and is an obvious source of efficiency through traditional efficiencies of scale. So, even for them, it appears they are fairly modest in terms of bargaining position, and it is not obvious that it is enough to compensate for inefficiencies elsewhere, as you claim it is. Note that historically, neither has had unusually high profits. Buying low in bulk is mostly necessary to pass those savings along.


You attribute this all to efficiency, to completely dismiss that the legal structure is more important here than the actual efficiency of the company. The property laws that allow Walmart and Amazon to not have to pay anyone else for the warehouses, while any other retailer has to pay profits to someone else for the rental value of the land itself. That lack of a need to pay rent or a loan itself represents a bargaining power difference, the other profits paid to the third party warehouse represent a bargaining power difference, the lower price purchased represent a bargaining power difference, and if Walmart wants there are a million ways to use their influence to squeeze them out of the supply line. It's about not having to deal with everyone trying to screw you at every single instant, until it's better to just let them buy you out.

Tyndmyr wrote:In 2017, Amazon had 4% of all US retail sales, and Walmart had about 14.5%.

They do not have a "lack of competition".


It's not just about whether there are other places that sell retail stuff; it's about the products on the shelves; this is especially important if you are a manufacturer. For a lot of products in a lot of areas Walmart does lack competition, and the influence they have is huge. They can largely decide winners and losers in industries. If every single store can decide independently whether to carry a product, they have a lot less power than if a single entity can make the decisions for everyone, and this has nothing to do with economies of scale. When it comes to a place like Walmart, people are going there for "pool toys". It doesn't fucking matter what pool toy you sell, how good it is, what pool toys other people sell. Your noodle might be better than the other noodle, but their customer's don't give a shit. Either you keep on Walmart, or your company is dead.

Tyndmyr wrote:If, as you say, this is inevitable, and consolidation never has an upper limit, then why hasn't it already gotten down to that end state? Farming isn't new. Why has it not already transpired?


History is open to the public. A lot of government money goes into keeping small farms afloat. There are also regulations protecting against monopolies.

Tyndmyr wrote:Why has it not already transpired?


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