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Let's Define "Freedom"


Phi for All
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Making a good more expensive doesn't make it higher quality. You are also free to design, commission and build your own higher quality product and spend as much money as you want on its development.

That's why my argument was, "if the same goods at twice the price last four times longer, we'd double our ability to purchase, or cut our costs in half depending on your perspective". I qualified that the goods I was describing were higher quality. Of course, the man of straw is much easier to knock down.

 

You seem to be implying here that we SHOULD trust our government. Can you think of no good reason why it wouldn't be smart to hand over medical decisions to the same people who brought us the USA PATRIOT act?

Where exactly? It seems clear I'm saying our government should be more worthy of our trust, not that they currently are. In fact, while I'm a registered Democrat, I'm becoming more and more convinced that both major parties are working for those who are paying for their own special interests, and I trust neither party. In much the same way, Clinton met with distrust even on something a large amount of people wanted, just because the presidents of the 12 previous years had eroded public trust by not fulfilling on their own promises ("Read my lips, no new taxes").

 

You can insist, and we all agree, that behaving cordially and respecting people in office are all worthwhile attitudes, and for the most part people holding political office are considered respected members of society. But, that doesn't change the fact that the incentives motivating politicians and lobbyists are not the same incentives that motivate regular folk.

I must have phrased it badly to elicit this response. Respecting people in public office who are worthy of our trust should be the norm, not respecting them because they hold public office. Of course the motivations of lobbyists and politicians are different than regular folk. We simply need to make it clear that the regular folk aren't going to stand for any more corruption and misuse of tax revenues. Politicians can't enact laws favorable only to special interests if we don't vote for them and put them in jail. Simple, but not easy.

 

There were people, after the Clinton years, who wanted to do away with any kind of retribution against politicians, for fear it would be a disincentive for those interested in holding public office. They actually tried to get away with that. IIRC, I think Bush was actually able to give himself that kind if retroactive immunity.

 

but even with "vigilance" the financial incentives for occlusion, rent seeking and outright corruption are pretty high. How do you effect change when the media doesn't even report on routine renk seeking (so commonplace its not newsworthy)? Sure thinks like wikileaks is evening things out, but even then only major stories attract much attention.

I think we need to redefine what journalism means in this country. Trust in news reporting especially should be a priority. I would also revise the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I think a corporation that owns a media outlet should not also own other types of businesses.

 

once again you seem to be equating cheap things with general freedom. Are the people who could afford to drive on higher quality, private roads more or less free because they are restricted to gov't-funded roads? Are we more or less free because subsidizing roads decreases incentives to develop better mass transit?

 

And what about Amtrak, a publicly funded transportation system that's neither cheap, high quality nor particularly 'freeing.'

AFAIK, no one is restricting anyone from building private roads for people who can afford them, so they are not less free. And I think the only thing that stops publicly funded mass transit from being better is the private interests that oppose most things they will never use.

 

And Amtrak was a Nixon-era scheme to provide manufactured mismanagement so taxpayer funds could be diverted to private interests. It was designed to fail so it could be dismantled and sold piecemeal to private companies. It's a wonder it's survived this long.

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That's why my argument was, "if the same goods at twice the price last four times longer, we'd double our ability to purchase, or cut our costs in half depending on your perspective". I qualified that the goods I was describing were higher quality. Of course, the man of straw is much easier to knock down.

My purpose wasn't to argue about the price of goods, but to contest a notion of freedom that has anything to do with the price and quality of privately manufactured goods. After all, if you feel that the quality and/or price of goods can be improved, you are perfectly free to innovate and market such a product. If a consumer chooses not to buy what you think is a superior quality, you could hardly accuse that person of somehow being less free.

 

Where exactly? It seems clear I'm saying our government should be more worthy of our trust, not that they currently are. In fact, while I'm a registered Democrat, I'm becoming more and more convinced that both major parties are working for those who are paying for their own special interests, and I trust neither party. In much the same way, Clinton met with distrust even on something a large amount of people wanted, just because the presidents of the 12 previous years had eroded public trust by not fulfilling on their own promises ("Read my lips, no new taxes").

Right and we would all love the government to be worthy of that trust. But they're not. Its an institutional problem that is hard to fix because implementing a fix means reliance on those who are untrustworthy in the first place.

 

I think I agree that having non-trustworthy politicians hurts freedom, but I'm not clear on what a realistic fix would be.

I must have phrased it badly to elicit this response. Respecting people in public office who are worthy of our trust should be the norm, not respecting them because they hold public office. Of course the motivations of lobbyists and politicians are different than regular folk. We simply need to make it clear that the regular folk aren't going to stand for any more corruption and misuse of tax revenues. Politicians can't enact laws favorable only to special interests if we don't vote for them and put them in jail. Simple, but not easy.

Yes I think I misunderstoon, but I'm sure that wasn't your fault. I disagree that the issue is simple, but this might just be semantics.

 

 

AFAIK, no one is restricting anyone from building private roads for people who can afford them, so they are not less free. And I think the only thing that stops publicly funded mass transit from being better is the private interests that oppose most things they will never use.

Good point. I actually don't know what it would take to have a useable private road system or even just a highway. I doubt its easy, with plenty of regulatory hurdles. But either way, the current, publicly funded system would make any serious private auto traffic contender financially infeasible, both in land availability (depending on the location) and price competition.

 

Btw - I'm not trying to dump on public roads, which for the most part I think is a good idea, just that I'm not convinced it makes anyone 'more free'.

 

And Amtrak was a Nixon-era scheme to provide manufactured mismanagement so taxpayer funds could be diverted to private interests. It was designed to fail so it could be dismantled and sold piecemeal to private companies. It's a wonder it's survived this long.

indeed!

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My purpose wasn't to argue about the price of goods, but to contest a notion of freedom that has anything to do with the price and quality of privately manufactured goods. After all, if you feel that the quality and/or price of goods can be improved, you are perfectly free to innovate and market such a product. If a consumer chooses not to buy what you think is a superior quality, you could hardly accuse that person of somehow being less free.

I think the consumers of the cheapest goods are coerced, in a way, to think that paying a lower price now means savings overall. It's quite possibly the lack of education at that level and all the other consumer pressures faced these days coupled with the effectiveness of modern advertising on that part of the market and the needs of business to keep people buying the same goods over and over that make it an exploitative affront to freedom to me. It's reminiscent of the old company store model, or making the minimum payment on credit debt; it's designed to keep the consumer slaved to the marketers. It's especially insidious at the lower end, where there doesn't seem to be any alternative. The best price is the best value, right?

 

And I blame the lack of education on those who have kept public education underfunded and then point to its failure as a sign of government ineptitude. It's been a very effective strategy for a lot of things, and every day we see less effective use of tax revenues for the things the People care most about while the same corporate/political machinations insure that more and more of those revenues go to support already successful businesses. It's hard for me not to see this as a freedom issue when I feel the country is being bled dry as regular folk are strapped down tighter and tighter by the effects of these circumstances.

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I think the consumers of the cheapest goods are coerced, in a way, to think that paying a lower price now means savings overall. It's quite possibly the lack of education at that level and all the other consumer pressures faced these days coupled with the effectiveness of modern advertising on that part of the market and the needs of business to keep people buying the same goods over and over that make it an exploitative affront to freedom to me. It's reminiscent of the old company store model, or making the minimum payment on credit debt; it's designed to keep the consumer slaved to the marketers. It's especially insidious at the lower end, where there doesn't seem to be any alternative. The best price is the best value, right?

 

And I blame the lack of education on those who have kept public education underfunded and then point to its failure as a sign of government ineptitude. It's been a very effective strategy for a lot of things, and every day we see less effective use of tax revenues for the things the People care most about while the same corporate/political machinations insure that more and more of those revenues go to support already successful businesses. It's hard for me not to see this as a freedom issue when I feel the country is being bled dry as regular folk are strapped down tighter and tighter by the effects of these circumstances.

I see what you're saying, and I think your intentions are good. But, you're getting into a sticky area. At what point does influence (such as through advertising) turn into coercion? What kind of information results in better decision making? Some of the only advertisements I actually like are movie commercials: because I'll actually go see a movie based on a good preview. Now, am I less free because a movie producer has paid to get that ad on TV... am I more free because I have to look up previews for myself on youtube? The distinction is not so clear to me.

 

Nor is it clear that there's "enslavement" going on. Taken to its logical conclusion, your statement implies that poor people without education are less capable of making independent decisions. But are educated, wealthy people doing any better? Wealthy people make purchase decisions all the time that have nothing to do with utility of purpose, often thanks to advertisement (expensive cars to signal wealth but don't confer any advantage for the purpose of driving). But if signaling is something people implicitly value, and advertisers are good at getting across the information that car x would be a successful signal, is the consumer any less free?

 

The price you're willing to pay (even if you're only willing to pay it thanks to the effects of ads) may not have the best value... but you're using a selective, utilitarian, definition of value that people just don't really have (and there's plenty of cog psych research to back this up). You can blame gov't ineptitude or lack of education but the fact is that, from an outside, time-dependent, view, humans make seemingly bad decisions all the time. While there are probably things the gov't can do make life better (by one metric or another), I fail to see how they can make people freer by your definition - which seems to be to maximize the ability to make unencumbered decisions that lead to maximized value. But the problem is, people can never rid themselves of external, psychological influences because values are not passed down on high, but are obtained through widely different experiences that give people inconsistent values. So how could gov't possibly create a policy that would allow everyone's utility to be maximized when people's values are often contradictory?

 

Either you have to leave people alone to make poor decisions with multitudinous, sometimes conflicting influences or you have to pick a narrow set of values to enforce and control all the inputs. Doesn't seem possible to me.

 

 

I'm writing in stream here, so let me know if any of this is way off.

 

and as a side note, I find this conversation intensely interesting.

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Btw - I'm not trying to dump on public roads, which for the most part I think is a good idea, just that I'm not convinced it makes anyone 'more free'.

For me, it becomes much more clear when you think about the concept of options, and how tightly our available options are tied to our overall freedom. If we don't have healthcare, for example, our options are extremely limited and if we get sick through no fault of our own, our freedom is diminished because are ultimately forced to pay for exorbitantly expensive care on our own. That $200,000 treatment for our ruptured kidney just translated into my inability to pay more mortgage, or feed my family, or let my kids go to college...

 

That is a very real impact on freedom. The same can be said of roads. If we have to drive an hour each day to work, then the lack of public roads means we must pay some private citizen for use of theirs... Or we must find alternative methods of travel if they won't let us. That decreases our mobility, decreases our available funds (for things like mortgages, food, college, entertainment, etc), and ultimately decreases our freedom. The only question is to what extent, not that it happens.

 

Even with that said, however, we should be careful not to focus as much on the example and instead focus on the concept. I say this as here's another example where the public approach is better than the private (read: the market really isn't always best, even though it sounds nice on a bumper sticker).

 

 

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/uosc-feo042612.php

 

First evaluation of the Clean Water Act's effects on coastal waters reveals major successes

Landmark legislation helped clean up LA's coastal waters over the past 40 years, study indicates

 

Levels of copper, cadmium, lead and other metals in Southern California's coastal waters have plummeted over the past four decades, according to new research from USC.

 

Samples taken off the coast reveal that the waters have seen a 100-fold decrease in lead and a 400-fold decrease in copper and cadmium. Concentrations of metals in the surface waters off Los Angeles are now comparable to levels found in surface waters along a remote stretch of Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

 

Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, who led the research team, attributed the cleaner water to sewage treatment regulations that were part of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and to the phase-out of leaded gasoline in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

Government is not a synonym for bad or inefficient.

 

The example above about public water treatment seems to support that, and serves as a supplement to the roads example.

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Government is not a synonym for bad or inefficient.

 

The example above about public water treatment seems to support that, and serves as a supplement to the roads example.

I agree, in general, that the government can do certain things well. But to get back to the notion of freedom, even when the government can do certain things well and that increases access and options on the aggregate., its still not obvious to me that people are more free because of it.

 

Consider Phi's complaint about advertisements: he claims that its a form of coercion on people, who don't know any better, to buy goods with a high cost to quality ratio. So imagine a freedom-loving gov't steps and, while they can't stop advertising (freedom of speech and all) they can set up some factories to make low cost, high quality goods. Ok, so the capital has to come from somewhere, and since they must be operating on thinner profit margins than private competitors, they decide to subsidize the program with tax dollars. Well, where does those tax dollars come from? From coercing people with money to part with [sometimes] a large fraction of that money.

 

So while advertising is influencing people to make (arguably) poor choices regarding purchases, to fix the problem we must coerce other people, on threat of violence and imprisonment, to give up part of their wealth. So are people more or less free? Maybe since poor people have "more options" there's more 'freedom' in the aggregate. But, I'd argue that there's also more violence and coercive forces, which is less 'freeing' and private individuals now have less wealth to spend as freely as they might have otherwise.

 

When the gov't spends money on public goods could this lead to more options and increase the general welfare? Possibly. But does this increase freedom? I'm not convinced that it does.

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That's fair, but this is where the specific topic starts to matter more. Advertising is not equivalent to public roads or police force or water treatment plants or colleges. I understand that these topics were raised separately to address separate topics, but we seem to be starting to merge them here. The public (more socialist) approach is good on some things, the market and private business sector is good on others. We are a hybrid economy, this is good, and now we just need to work together to find ways to maximize the benefit and minimize the cost of this hybridization... To find that threshold between what should be government and what should be private.

Edited by iNow
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If the goal is to maximize average (possibly even aggregate) economic benefit, then I agree. If the goal is to maximize freedom, I'm not sure I do. There seems to be an inherent assumption that freedom == utility (particularly economic) and I'm not sure that this is the case. Another [admittedly Hayekian] viewpoint is that using institutions (like the government) to enforce material equality necessarily leads to less equality under the law (to redistribute you must treat people differently).

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Can freedom and economic opportunity ever truly be decoupled in the way you seem to suggest they are? Isn't economic opportunity an inseparable, important, and multifaceted component (subset) of freedom itself when considered at the level of the individual?

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Consider Phi's complaint about advertisements: he claims that its a form of coercion on people, who don't know any better, to buy goods with a high cost to quality ratio. So imagine a freedom-loving gov't steps and, while they can't stop advertising (freedom of speech and all) they can set up some factories to make low cost, high quality goods.

I wouldn't suggest that the government get into competition with private business in durable and non-durable goods. That's something the market economy handles very well, even if I feel we've relied a bit too much on cheap goods in high quantity rather than buying less and insisting on better quality to drive our economy.

 

I'd be more likely to suggest that, to supplement the poor education budgets we've been forced to endure for the last 30 years or so, a series of public service announcements be produced, educating people on ways to increase their buying power by looking for higher quality in their products. This could even help us rebuild our own manufacturing base, something that would help the economy and yes, allow us more freedom due to less waste in personal finances. I'd rather have our government (and our tax resources) be a tool for educating the populace rather than trying to compete with products.

 

Medical insurance is a whole other ball of wax. Risk pools and administration is something government can excel at.

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Phi,

I'm not sure where I was talking about giving anybody "more" power.
Well you sure haven't been talking about giving polititions less power. Weren't you suggesting that it would be good to give government more power as long as the populace remained vigilant?

 

 

Allowing them to remain in office or pardoning them for crimes committed while in office just encourage more of the same.

I fully agree with this. I've always hated that polititions can get a slap on the hand, while a regular Joe gets prison time. And in fact, I would like to see somewhat harsher punishment come to those who hold office. (Depending upon the crime of course.)

 

 

Do you really think I would have the freedom to drive as much as I do now if I had to pay private companies for the privilege of driving on the roads they own?
This is supposition based on the premmis that private companies would own them if government didn't. Who controled the roads before government started building highways? Were private companies out there squeezing the citezenry for being on them?

 

And we can have other specialists whose job is to make sure all the other specialists are doing the right things.

I wonder whose second cousin that will be. Get my drift?

 

 

It's just hard to remain vigilant when our eyes are focused on only ourselves and our immediate families. We reap the benefits of society by promoting the general welfare of that society
Man, it's a wonder we ever survived.:blink:

 

 

Phi, I read this:

There were people, after the Clinton years, who wanted to do away with any kind of retribution against politicians, for fear it would be a disincentive for those interested in holding public office. They actually tried to get away with that
and had to chuckle. Who in that position wouldn't want that?;)

 

 

 

I have a little issue with the way this is being argued.

 

I think the consumers of the cheapest goods are coerced, in a way, to think that paying a lower price now means savings overall
Is it not the consumers responsibility to learn how to differentiate between these things? Since the first market was created there has been swindlers, crooks, and those who would falsely equate price with value. I would have to say, that although these issues that you've laid down have an impact on sales, that it is the product itself that keeps it afloat in the market. If a product doesn't meet with the public standard of value compared to price payed, then that product should see sales stagnating in place of another more trust worthy product. Advertizing and the lack of education only go so far before reality takes over in the market. So in a sense we are just as free to make a bad decision as right one. The only thing that controling this type of thing would do is give someone else more control in order to take peoples freedom of making a wrong decision away. No one wants to make a wrong choice, but I would hate to see the freedom to do so taken away. Does that make any sense at all, or am I just rambling incoherently? (that happens sometimes)

 

 

iNow,

 

If we don't have healthcare, for example, our options are extremely limited and if we get sick through no fault of our own, our freedom is diminished because are ultimately forced to pay for exorbitantly expensive care on our own.
Then by your own sequence of thought here, you would effectively be deminishing EVERYONE'S freedom by making them pay for someone else by (like ecoli said) the threat of violence and imprisonment. Is that more or less correct? And I would also have to say that if you didn't have healthcare that THAT is already the option that you have chosen. So that freedom of option was already there.

 

 

Government is not a synonym for bad or inefficient.

 

The example above about public water treatment seems to support that, and serves as a supplement to the roads example.

This is true if you can keep it limited. I would classify this sort of action right allong with the Food Administration or anything else that keeps harmful toxins from affecting the public. But I wouldn't use this scenario for all government intervention.
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Well you sure haven't been talking about giving polititions less power. Weren't you suggesting that it would be good to give government more power as long as the populace remained vigilant?

When I say we should pool our tax revenues to use them to promote the general welfare in areas where such cooperation is advantageous, you say we're giving the government more power. I happen to think we have more provisions for keeping that power balanced and in check with our own democratic government than we would by continuing to give corporations that power. We have only laws to stop them, and how effective can they be when the corporations are so powerful they can have them rewritten?

 

This is supposition based on the premmis that private companies would own them if government didn't. Who controled the roads before government started building highways? Were private companies out there squeezing the citezenry for being on them?

Times have changed quite a bit since the early 1900s. Back then, building an infrastructure to support fledgling markets like automobiles and transport trucks was the primary concern, and charging to drive on those roads would have been counterproductive. Nowadays, the infrastructure is already there. Private concerns are more interested these days with buying the rights to existing infrastructure, like utilities and roads, and charging for their use in exchange for maintaining these services.

 

Out here in the west (or at least Colorado), when we build a tollway, the state usually stops charging when the road is paid for, but I know back east there are some permanent tollways. These are the roads that are being sold to private interests. There are ways it can work, but we're not following them, from what I've read. Here's a good report on Public vs Private Roads.

 

I have a little issue with the way this is being argued.

 

Is it not the consumers responsibility to learn how to differentiate between these things? Since the first market was created there has been swindlers, crooks, and those who would falsely equate price with value. I would have to say, that although these issues that you've laid down have an impact on sales, that it is the product itself that keeps it afloat in the market. If a product doesn't meet with the public standard of value compared to price payed, then that product should see sales stagnating in place of another more trust worthy product. Advertizing and the lack of education only go so far before reality takes over in the market. So in a sense we are just as free to make a bad decision as right one. The only thing that controling this type of thing would do is give someone else more control in order to take peoples freedom of making a wrong decision away. No one wants to make a wrong choice, but I would hate to see the freedom to do so taken away. Does that make any sense at all, or am I just rambling incoherently? (that happens sometimes)

I agree that the consumer is responsible for learning how to differentiate between good value and bad. I don't see public service announcements as being in opposition to that. Where else are they going to learn? Businesses aren't the best source, and certainly our public schools are barely able to hang on to the basics as it is, so I think using tax dollars to specifically educate people on the benefits of purchases that increase purchasing power would be highly beneficial.

 

We both know it's not a matter of cheap goods falling apart and not working the way they're supposed to, which might trigger a normal market response. It's a matter of goods that are meant to last only a year but are cheap enough so replacement is within most people's budget. But this kind of spending reduces freedom imo because for twice the price a product can be purchased that won't need replacement for four years, cutting overall costs in half. It's something we all know but need reminding of occasionally, especially when so much effort is used to sell us on low prices.

 

Personally, it makes sense to offer an alternative to the billions of dollars in advertising people see on a daily basis, something that reminds them that they'll have twice as much money to save or spend if the goods they buy last twice as long. I grew up with public service announcements like this reminding us that throwing litter in a trash can saved money and made a more beautiful America. We all knew it, but those public service announcements helped a couple of generations of Americans keep the country cleaner.

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Phi,

 

Out here in the west (or at least Colorado), when we build a tollway, the state usually stops charging when the road is paid for, but I know back east there are some permanent tollways. These are the roads that are being sold to private interests. There are ways it can work, but we're not following them, from what I've read.
Those that are being sold to private interests are being done so under the assumption that that company would pay for maintenance and repair. Also the toll that is applied is based on convenience for the motorists. If someone doesn't want to pay the toll they don't have to drive the road. So the district has cut costs by not having to pay for that roads maintenance and repair, while the public controls the price of the toll through their own demand for convenience. Sounds like a win win to me. Of course I'm the type that doesn't expect something for nothing. I'm sure alot of others would think that they should be able to drive that road for free.

 

When I say we should pool our tax revenues to use them to promote the general welfare in areas where such cooperation is advantageous, you say we're giving the government more power. I happen to think we have more provisions for keeping that power balanced and in check with our own democratic government than we would by continuing to give corporations that power. We have only laws to stop them, and how effective can they be when the corporations are so powerful they can have them rewritten?

Hmmm... I'm going to have to think about this a little bit. Off the top of my head it would seem that the taking of this power wouldn't just hurt corporations, but everyone from the producing and manufacturing end, all the way down to the individual consumer.

 

 

I agree that the consumer is responsible for learning how to differentiate between good value and bad. I don't see public service announcements as being in opposition to that. Where else are they going to learn? Businesses aren't the best source, and certainly our public schools are barely able to hang on to the basics as it is, so I think using tax dollars to specifically educate people on the benefits of purchases that increase purchasing power would be highly beneficial.
But now you're effectively going to let the government pick winners and losers in a FREE market? Now instead of parents and teachers teaching their children core values, we are going to allow the government policy do it for us? I can't agree with that at all.
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Those that are being sold to private interests are being done so under the assumption that that company would pay for maintenance and repair. Also the toll that is applied is based on convenience for the motorists. If someone doesn't want to pay the toll they don't have to drive the road. So the district has cut costs by not having to pay for that roads maintenance and repair, while the public controls the price of the toll through their own demand for convenience. Sounds like a win win to me. Of course I'm the type that doesn't expect something for nothing. I'm sure alot of others would think that they should be able to drive that road for free.

No one drives on a road for free, unless they pay no taxes. It's just that those who drive on public roads can do so knowing they're not paying extra to help some business profit unnecessarily.

 

I think I've made it perfectly clear that I'm a free market type as well, where that model makes the most sense. Since the time of the Caesars, people have known that reliable roads have been intrinsic to commerce, international relations and societal life in general. Giving up control of them to private interests is not beneficial or desirable, imo.

 

Hmmm... I'm going to have to think about this a little bit. Off the top of my head it would seem that the taking of this power wouldn't just hurt corporations, but everyone from the producing and manufacturing end, all the way down to the individual consumer.

I don't understand this reply to what you quoted me on. Perhaps I didn't make it clear. We have checks and balances in our government that aren't present with regard to commerce with private companies. If our political leaders are harming the general welfare, we have the means to get rid of them. If a corporation harms the general welfare, we have the means to stop that as well, as long as those means haven't been altered in favor of the perpetrators.

 

I don't understand why having meaningful, beneficial, protective laws is going to hurt everyone down to the individual consumer. They're there to protect all those people. Would you really rather let the corporations govern themselves? Really?!

 

 

But now you're effectively going to let the government pick winners and losers in a FREE market? Now instead of parents and teachers teaching their children core values, we are going to allow the government policy do it for us? I can't agree with that at all.

I'm not advocating the government pick anything, or take the place of teachers and parents. I'm talking about some publicly aired reminders that buying quality products at a higher price can often save more money over time. Jesus, it's just a common sense reminder, we see them in regards to many other things: look both ways before crossing the street, use energy efficient appliances to save money and avoid waste, pay half your mortgage every two weeks and pay down a month of principle by year's end. We know these things, but being reminded often is a sound practice. What the hell are you objecting to here?

 

Oh, I get it, you're working for the Chinese. They would lose a lot of revenue if we started buying longer-lasting products, or (gasp!) started making them ourselves.

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It's just that those who drive on public roads can do so knowing they're not paying extra to help some business profit unnecessarily.
Of course they are. Private companies work on and build roads all the time. Just because it's tax money that pays for it, doesn't mean that private companies do not profit from them. Also, where did this UNNECESSARILY come from? Who decides that?

 

 

 

I don't understand this reply to what you quoted me on.
Then let me reiterate.

 

You said this in post 62:

When I say we should pool our tax revenues to use them to promote the general welfare in areas where such cooperation is advantageous, you say we're giving the government more power.
I do. Because now you're effectively pitting a government backed, tax funded, entity against a private sector business. How is that not giving the government more power? How would that not affect everyone who is involved in that private sector business. And what's to happens once that government entity dominates that part of the market? Is it going to back off or is it going to move to another part of the market?

Not to sound all "slippery slope" or "conspiracy theorist" here, but I can just imagine that this is how it starts. "Obviously the private sector doesn't do this well enough", "okay the government can do a better job, they can take over". On and on, until before you know it, we all are government employees. Sounds Great.

 

You say we just need to remain vigilant to keep this from happening, but where is our vigilance where government is conserned. You claim they already pander to the corporations and visa versa. Why do you think our vigilance will be any different in any other area? I think people have started to believe that the government is ACTUALLY "We the People". When this could not be further from the truth. When people hear "We the People" used as explaining government they should automatically think "just a representative", and it is this vigilance that our founding fathers wanted us to maintain. That's why I don't really get this mantality of letting government run things. It seems absurd. But sure enough, little by little, it grows and grows.

 

 

If a corporation harms the general welfare, we have the means to stop that as well, as long as those means haven't been altered in favor of the perpetrators.

So why not tackle this problem head on? I think we have a better track record of passing new laws than fixing broken government institutions.

I'm not saying to let the corporations govern themselves. WE already govern them, I say we need to do better at that.

 

 

I'm talking about some publicly aired reminders that buying quality products at a higher price can often save more money over time.
Like I said "picking and choosing". You now have government backed, tax funded, advertising for one company above another. Although it is indirect, it is still direct enough to distinguish.

 

Let's say that one company makes a product that will last twice as long as it's competitors product. And although it lasts twice as long as it's competitors, the competitors product looks twice as good at half the cost with a catchier advertisement. Who's fault is it when the company, who's product lasts twice as long, goes under? It's the markets fault. It's what people want. Are you going to say that it's peoples freedom that ultimately stifles their freedom?

 

Oh, I get it, you're working for the Chinese.
Oh you got me now. I might as well spill the beans. I'm part of a secret commy group that has a new way of recruiting. We think, by preaching freedom that everyone will ultimately join the ranks of servitude and subjugation. Good plan right? It seems to be working across America as we speak.
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Of course they are. Private companies work on and build roads all the time. Just because it's tax money that pays for it, doesn't mean that private companies do not profit from them. Also, where did this UNNECESSARILY come from? Who decides that?

In this instance, I thought we were talking about privatized roads, not roads built under government contract by private companies. If we sell the tollways to private companies, they're going to charge what the state did PLUS a margin for profit. It's what they've done with all the utilities and other formerly government run projects.

 

 

Then let me reiterate.

 

You said this in post 62:I do. Because now you're effectively pitting a government backed, tax funded, entity against a private sector business. How is that not giving the government more power? How would that not affect everyone who is involved in that private sector business. And what's to happens once that government entity dominates that part of the market? Is it going to back off or is it going to move to another part of the market?

Not to sound all "slippery slope" or "conspiracy theorist" here, but I can just imagine that this is how it starts. "Obviously the private sector doesn't do this well enough", "okay the government can do a better job, they can take over". On and on, until before you know it, we all are government employees. Sounds Great.

Regardless of how you choose to look at the "who has the power" situation, I still maintain that we have more control over our own government than we do over corporations. We don't get to vote for a new CEO at GE.

You say we just need to remain vigilant to keep this from happening, but where is our vigilance where government is conserned. You claim they already pander to the corporations and visa versa. Why do you think our vigilance will be any different in any other area? I think people have started to believe that the government is ACTUALLY "We the People". When this could not be further from the truth. When people hear "We the People" used as explaining government they should automatically think "just a representative", and it is this vigilance that our founding fathers wanted us to maintain. That's why I don't really get this mantality of letting government run things. It seems absurd. But sure enough, little by little, it grows and grows.

Political advocacy should be much more a part of every citizen's life, that's a big part of what I'm arguing about. At least we can know that promoting the general welfare through our own government can be more effective in the long run than believing corporations who just want to dodge taxes and regulations and send jobs away while promising to create jobs if we lower their taxes and soften the regulations.

 

So why not tackle this problem head on? I think we have a better track record of passing new laws than fixing broken government institutions.

I'm not saying to let the corporations govern themselves. WE already govern them, I say we need to do better at that.

Absolutely. But the longer we wait, the more the biggest corporations are stacking the deck against us. Wait too long and we may find ourselves on the wrong side of the letter of the law, with nothing but the spirit of the law to hold on to.

 

Like I said "picking and choosing". You now have government backed, tax funded, advertising for one company above another. Although it is indirect, it is still direct enough to distinguish.

 

Let's say that one company makes a product that will last twice as long as it's competitors product. And although it lasts twice as long as it's competitors, the competitors product looks twice as good at half the cost with a catchier advertisement. Who's fault is it when the company, who's product lasts twice as long, goes under? It's the markets fault. It's what people want. Are you going to say that it's peoples freedom that ultimately stifles their freedom?

This is being done now with subsidies and no-bid contracts, all at the taxpayers expense. It's being done by lobbyists who make sure new laws have a public face that we'll approve, but have hidden agendas that favor a few companies over the rest of the market. My PSAs would at least be aimed at helping the public remember a bit of economics they may have learned a few decades ago, kind of like they learned not to litter when they were kids but may not think much about it now.

 

Edit to add: Do you feel the current PSA campaign by the EPA to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has been "picking and choosing" some companies over others unfairly? Do you wish we'd never funded the campaign? Given how poorly you think of the federal government, was this something big business would have done on it's own as effectively and in as timely a manner?

Edited by Phi for All
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In this instance, I thought we were talking about privatized roads, not roads built under government contract by private companies
okay, but here's what you said that made me respond that way.
No one drives on a road for free, unless they pay no taxes. It's just that those who drive on public roads can do so knowing they're not paying extra to help some business profit unnecessarily.
And I felt it necessary to point out that private companies may still profit off of public roads.

 

 

If we sell the tollways to private companies, they're going to charge what the state did PLUS a margin for profit. It's what they've done with all the utilities and other formerly government run projects.

Yep, they do want to make a profit. But here's how I see a privately owned toll road. I see it much like a fairy. If you want to cross by that means, you're going to have to pay. If you don't want to pay, go around or find another way. I'm not sure what the big deal is about these toll roads. A company profits, and.... Why do you think it's unnecessarily? Is it just that a company profits off of something that you feel should be free?

 

 

Regardless of how you choose to look at the "who has the power" situation, I still maintain that we have more control over our own government than we do over corporations. We don't get to vote for a new CEO at GE.

True, but...I believe it's easier to pass a law than it is to kick an incumbent. It takes quite alot to turn public opinion against, and working with a corporation to "free it up to make more jobs", is not going to insight the public outrage that would be needed. A politition can always spin the situation to their favor. At least to the point of holding office. So I see passing a law against corporations as needed is a whole lot easier than creating another government run institution.

 

 

At least we can know that promoting the general welfare through our own government can be more effective in the long run than believing corporations who just want to dodge taxes and regulations and send jobs away while promising to create jobs if we lower their taxes and soften the regulations.

I would like to here an example of a corporation who has sent jobs overseas after their taxes and regulations were cut to specifically keep those jobs here. It would be one thing if they said one thing and did another, but it's something totally different if they got what they asked for and did it anyway.

And political advocacy really depends on what you're advocating. Strengthening government control over the populace is not a good advocacy point in my opinion.

 

Absolutely. But the longer we wait, the more the biggest corporations are stacking the deck against us. Wait too long and we may find ourselves on the wrong side of the letter of the law, with nothing but the spirit of the law to hold on to.

And who's fault would that be? You always talk about not treating corporations like people, but it seems that you don't want them acting like corporations either. If we can't keep them from doing things that are a part of their very nature to do, then it's our own fault.

 

Edit to add: Do you feel the current PSA campaign by the EPA to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has been "picking and choosing" some companies over others unfairly? Do you wish we'd never funded the campaign? Given how poorly you think of the federal government, was this something big business would have done on it's own as effectively and in as timely a manner?

How does that even compare. What two businesses does that announcement pit against eachother? Who does that help over another? I don't get the comparison.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Yep, they do want to make a profit. But here's how I see a privately owned toll road. I see it much like a fairy. If you want to cross by that means, you're going to have to pay. If you don't want to pay, go around or find another way. I'm not sure what the big deal is about these toll roads. A company profits, and.... Why do you think it's unnecessarily? Is it just that a company profits off of something that you feel should be free?

Taking a ferry is completely different. It's not driving on a road, it's being transported on a boat. It's a service provided by a company, not a roadway to provide ease of public transportation.

 

The kinds of toll roads I'm talking about, the ones being taken over by private companies, are mostly back east, so it's hard for people like us in the west to visualize, what with all the room we have and alternate roadways. In many eastern states, the tollways are the ONLY practical routes to get from one point to another. If you could even afford the time to take secondary roads to get where you're going, if enough people started doing it, the small town roads you'd use as alternatives would quickly clog, causing the towns to react in various negative ways.

 

I'm saying that this is an instance where the state can provide public access and maintenance to these roads at a lesser cost to taxpayers. These roads are a benefit to everyone, even those without cars, since goods that non-commuters travel them also.

 

And if a corporation is allowed to own these roads, where are your free-market principles when that corporation's trucks don't have to pay like everyone else? Doesn't that give that corporation an unfair advantage? Here in Denver, we have a problem with one big trash company, BFI, that owns the biggest landfills (which used to be owned by the state). It's a real conflict of interest because they regularly try to squeeze out the competition by increasing the fees smaller trash companies have to pay to dump there. But BFI pays off politicians to keep the laws from stopping this unfair practice. I see this as a similar situation to the tollways.

 

True, but...I believe it's easier to pass a law than it is to kick an incumbent. It takes quite alot to turn public opinion against, and working with a corporation to "free it up to make more jobs", is not going to insight the public outrage that would be needed. A politition can always spin the situation to their favor. At least to the point of holding office. So I see passing a law against corporations as needed is a whole lot easier than creating another government run institution.

And these are just the kinds of laws that the corporations work to erode as soon as they're in place (or corrupt as they're being written). The corporations have the resources to stay in the face of the politicians on a daily basis, and they always will when it means such a huge return on their investment in our political system.

 

 

I would like to here an example of a corporation who has sent jobs overseas after their taxes and regulations were cut to specifically keep those jobs here. It would be one thing if they said one thing and did another, but it's something totally different if they got what they asked for and did it anyway.

Corporate lobbying through the US Camber of Commerce to extend the Bush tax cuts are a matter of public record. Here is a letter from the USCOC's EVP of Gov't Affairs which states:

Job creators are especially sensitive to tax rates and any tax increase right now would only hinder the already too weak recovery.

Yet a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office states that tax cuts are the LEAST effective measure to ensure job creation. The corporations got the Bush tax cuts extended and guess what? They still sent jobs overseas. I'm not going to bother listing any here because virtually every major corporation in the US did it, is doing it right now, and will continue to do it. And it's clear, since the Bush tax cuts really couldn't help create jobs anyway (the CEOs who stood to gain the most by the tax cuts weren't hiring workers with their own money, they were using the corporation's money, duh), the whole thing was a scam to protect personal wealth at taxpayer expense.

 

And political advocacy really depends on what you're advocating. Strengthening government control over the populace is not a good advocacy point in my opinion.

Nice strawman. "I'm not like you, I don't want to strengthen government control over the populace!" I absolutely HATE it when you pull this garbage, Justin. It makes me feel like I'm just wasting my time. Please stop trying to widen the brush I'm using to paint with.

 

And who's fault would that be? You always talk about not treating corporations like people, but it seems that you don't want them acting like corporations either. If we can't keep them from doing things that are a part of their very nature to do, then it's our own fault.

It IS our own fault, but the fix is stalled by people like you who defend the practices of big business because you think any objection is an attack on ALL free market policies. You refuse to see that the corporations, not ALL of them, might have been allowed to take things too far in their favor.

 

How does that even compare. What two businesses does that announcement pit against eachother? Who does that help over another? I don't get the comparison.

Why does it have to pit only two companies against each other? Any company that was on the opposite side of the "green" meter probably hated the whole program. And these are just the companies that needed it most and would NEVER have moved this way without the EPA's campaign.

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Phi, before I respond I wanted to share something that I wrote in another thread. I think it applies to the topic and I wanted to get some feed back on it without having to write it all over again.

 

Keep in mind I was replying to someone who suggested that lack of compassion equals tyranny: "Upon reading this one sentence, my immediate thought was that a tyrant can also be compassionate. As in my signature below, C.S. Lewis said,"Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." I believe we can see this happening today. A government is tyrannical by nature. Without limits, it has no other direction to turn, and this direction is slowly achieved through laws that are passed by playing on people's compassion for one another. People believe that somehow government has a conscience and are willing to give up their liberties for the sake of comfort and security. We see this with certain laws that have been passed recently. Anywhere from healthcare to national security laws, they have all had one thing in common. The deminishing of individual liberties for the sake of comfort and security. Some people claim that we can keep government misdeeds in check if only the population is vigilant enough. I ask, historically, where has that worked? Germany? Russia? China? The Middle East especially. They were not given the opportunity to be vigilant in the way the US has, and now their citizens are being put to slaughter by their own governments because they wish to have the freedom that they lack. I believe that our founders wanted our vigilance to be aimed at the limitation of governments power and control. If we remain vigilant in order to limit government's power and control, their misdeeds will also be limited for that LACK of power and control. I think that people sometimes do not realize that the absence of individual power and freedom only leads to submissive servitude. You were indeed correct in the "trial" thread when you said that if we do not understand history, then it is bound to repeat itself. And where, throughout history, has the loss of individual freedom been good for the wellfare of it's citizens? You can also see an example of this with most nations that have banned it's citizens from arming themselves. The ban is proposed through a conscientious decision based on the fact that people don't want to see others get killed. But the reprecussions of that are normally that the freedom and power to defend ourselves is taken away, and the law abiding citezen is defenseless against a person who didn't follow the law in the first place. All for the sake of comfort and security. I say that our comfort is provided through our fortitude to provide for ourselves as well as our families. And our security resides in our ability to hold onto our individual liberties. The more these things are lost upon us, the more we will submitt ourselves to the servitude of tyranny.Well...enough of my preaching on that subject."

 

 

Phi,

And if a corporation is allowed to own these roads, where are your free-market principles when that corporation's trucks don't have to pay like everyone else?
Of the top of my head it only makes sense from a business perspective, but I doubt someone would y a road just so their trucks can pass without payment. They would have to have a crap load of trucks to make that pay for itself. So, yeahy company! But on a more serious note, where is that happening? Is this just a hypothetical? Because I haven't seen where this has been an issue.(not to say that because I haaven't heard of it, it's not) What examples are there of corporations using one company to advantage another unfairly?

 

And these are just the kinds of laws that the corporations work to erode as soon as they're in place (or corrupt as they're being written). The corporations have the resources to stay in the face of the politicians on a daily basis, and they always will when it means such a huge return on their investment in our political system.

So why not deal with that problem, instead of creating a whole new set of problems just to minimize (not stop) the original problem?

 

Corporate lobbying through the US Camber of Commerce to extend the Bush tax cuts are a matter of public record. Here is a letter from the USCOC's EVP of Gov't Affairs which states:

And this does nothing to answer my question. Are those same corporations moving their companies overseas when a certain area of their costs are relieved by tax cuts? By my understanding, in '04 and '05 tax breaks were implemented for overseas corporations. While the corporate tax was cut domesticly, which was followed by a period of growth in that area, it still did nothing to incintivize those overseas corporations to make the move back. Lobbying to extend those tax cuts were just as much for domestic corporations as it was for anything else.

 

http://www.techceocouncil.org/clientuploads/reports/Corporate_taxes_and_Economic_Growth_FEB.pdf

 

 

And it's clear, since the Bush tax cuts really couldn't help create jobs anyway (the CEOs who stood to gain the most by the tax cuts weren't hiring workers with their own money, they were using the corporation's money, duh
Give me an example. Look...it takes money to make. Why do you think that the more money taken away from a company results in more growth, rather than the more money a company gets to keep allows it to grow? I'm not getting your way of thinking on this.

 

 

Nice strawman. "I'm not like you, I don't want to strengthen government control over the populace!" I absolutely HATE it when you pull this garbage, Justin. It makes me feel like I'm just wasting my time. Please stop trying to widen the brush I'm using to paint with.
This is a discussion on freedom in general. And when I broaden that brush, it is only because that is the eventual outcome of the path that you propose. Not because I'm trying to undermind any of your points. Freedom is not a mystical thing to me. I've been thrown in a cell a few times and anyone who has felt that frustration and despair knows that freedom is not to be taken lightly. Our vigilance should not be an afterthought. If you were around a caged lion, would you leave the lock off thinking that your vigilance would keep you from being eaten once it got out? Or would your vigilance be more to the tune of keeping that lock in place to prevent the option of being eaten in the first place?

 

It IS our own fault, but the fix is stalled by people like you who defend the practices of big business because you think any objection is an attack on ALL free market policies. You refuse to see that the corporations, not ALL of them, might have been allowed to take things too far in their favor.
You have me wrong here. It is not your objections that I argue against. It is the solutions that you propose that I am leary of. Off the top of my head, I can't think of one solution that you propose that doesn't include government control of the entity you're objecting to.

 

 

Why does it have to pit only two companies against each other? Any company that was on the opposite side of the "green" meter probably hated the whole program. And these are just the companies that needed it most and would NEVER have moved this way without the EPA's campaign.
After a little thought I find that I don't completely reject the notion of PSAs. But this is only if they can maintain a non-biased form of publication, which in my mind wouldn't be maintained that easily. And, just as an afterthought, what makes you so sure those companies wouldn't have evolved to include a more environmentally sound business practice? I usually see the environmental aspect of a business much like the safety aspect of business. Money spent toward both goals usually shows an increase in productivity and cost savings. Why do you think that those businesses wouldn't have recognized this and eventually worked toward accomplishing such a goal?
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A government is tyrannical by nature.

Once again, you start with a sentence that makes any further discussion moot. This is the way you view governments, so nothing I can say will ever get past this insurmountable wall.

 

Without limits, it has no other direction to turn, and this direction is slowly achieved through laws that are passed by playing on people's compassion for one another.

More of the same. You're Begging the Question, automatically judging government to be "without limits", "hey, let's all just start from THAT premise, folks, so my argument is that much stronger!" You can't base a valid argument on such a poor foundation.

 

People believe that somehow government has a conscience and are willing to give up their liberties for the sake of comfort and security. We see this with certain laws that have been passed recently. Anywhere from healthcare to national security laws, they have all had one thing in common. The deminishing of individual liberties for the sake of comfort and security. Some people claim that we can keep government misdeeds in check if only the population is vigilant enough. I ask, historically, where has that worked? Germany? Russia? China? The Middle East especially. They were not given the opportunity to be vigilant in the way the US has, and now their citizens are being put to slaughter by their own governments because they wish to have the freedom that they lack. I believe that our founders wanted our vigilance to be aimed at the limitation of governments power and control. If we remain vigilant in order to limit government's power and control, their misdeeds will also be limited for that LACK of power and control. I think that people sometimes do not realize that the absence of individual power and freedom only leads to submissive servitude. You were indeed correct in the "trial" thread when you said that if we do not understand history, then it is bound to repeat itself. And where, throughout history, has the loss of individual freedom been good for the wellfare of it's citizens? You can also see an example of this with most nations that have banned it's citizens from arming themselves. The ban is proposed through a conscientious decision based on the fact that people don't want to see others get killed. But the reprecussions of that are normally that the freedom and power to defend ourselves is taken away, and the law abiding citezen is defenseless against a person who didn't follow the law in the first place. All for the sake of comfort and security. I say that our comfort is provided through our fortitude to provide for ourselves as well as our families. And our security resides in our ability to hold onto our individual liberties. The more these things are lost upon us, the more we will submitt ourselves to the servitude of tyranny.Well...enough of my preaching on that subject."

Justin, we've had some good discussions. You've made some good points in the past, but now I feel like you're having to distort my points or move the goalposts in order to keep your arguments valid. You NEED me to be some kind of anti-capitalist communist in order for your stance to make sense.

 

I think a big part of our freedom in the US is being stifled by the unfair advantage big business has with their political clout, their ability to stay in the face of candidates and politicians in a way that a normal person can afford to do. I feel big business has had too great an influence in forming new laws that give them even greater power.

 

It's just as simple as that. I'm not trying to mess with their ability to make a decent profit, but I think they should be focusing on ways that utilize the market economy, not under-the-table manipulation free from proper market pressures. This bullshit with paying lobbyists to invent tax loopholes to garner 1000% returns on the investment doesn't help the market, and it robs the country of millions in taxes and billions in subsidies. It robs Peter and says, "Screw you too, Paul!" It's NOT business, not the way I think of business, it's CFO meets lawyer meets shady politician, and I think it's been killing this country, robbing us of our ability to compete, and cutting the throat of the American worker.

 

When you shrug and say, "It's in their nature", you're telling me that nothing I say will ever make this NOT about your personal view of what business can get away with in this country. When you claim, "Government is tyrannical by nature", I have no hope of ever talking to you about the best ways our government can help make our lives better. And when you talk about progressive laws being about playing on people's compassion for one another, you'll never be able to understand what the consequences of allowing businesspeople to manipulate politicians are.

 

Think about your freedom in the coming months, when you see the unbelievably disgraceful, deplorable amounts of money being poured into political manipulation as we get closer to the presidential election. Think about the fact that no matter who gets elected, the biggest corporations are still going to be writing the laws to benefit themselves instead of the country, as payback for all the "investments" they've made in OUR government. At a time when we could use some jobs from these guys, we won't get them because we aren't good for the bottom line, trapped in an economic niche they helped create, that they make us believe is the greatest in the world, but refuse to help us correct or even maintain because it isn't profitable.

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Once again, you start with a sentence that makes any further discussion moot. This is the way you view governments, so nothing I can say will ever get past this insurmountable wall.
How is a government without limitation not tyrannical? How was my statement inaccurate?

 

More of the same. You're Begging the Question, automatically judging government to be "without limits", "hey, let's all just start from THAT premise, folks, so my argument is that much stronger!" You can't base a valid argument on such a poor foundation.

For such a "poor foundation" you seem to be lacking in a meaningfull response. I wasn't judging government to have no limitations. I was implying that the more limitations that are given up, the closer a government gets to being like a government without any.

 

 

Justin, we've had some good discussions. You've made some good points in the past, but now I feel like you're having to distort my points or move the goalposts in order to keep your arguments valid. You NEED me to be some kind of anti-capitalist communist in order for your stance to make sense.

This is how you start your reply to something that I clearly stated wasn't even written in this thread to begin with? How is that making you out to be anything when it wasn't even written in response to you or even with you in mind? And I understand that you would like me to believe that you take the best parts of any political philosophy and incorporate them, but I see that as just being too damn convenient.

 

 

I think a big part of our freedom in the US is being stifled by the unfair advantage big business has with their political clout, their ability to stay in the face of candidates and politicians in a way that a normal person can afford to do. I feel big business has had too great an influence in forming new laws that give them even greater power.

 

I've said before that we agree on this. Polititions and citizens alike need to understand that the political arena is just like a free market. If the public's not satisfied with the product they'll switch companies. And though we agree that this is a problem, it will have to become a crisis before there is something done about it.

 

 

not under-the-table manipulation free from proper market pressures.
Extremely well put.

 

 

When you shrug and say, "It's in their nature", you're telling me that nothing I say will ever make this NOT about your personal view of what business can get away with in this country. When you claim, "Government is tyrannical by nature", I have no hope of ever talking to you about the best ways our government can help make our lives better. And when you talk about progressive laws being about playing on people's compassion for one another, you'll never be able to understand what the consequences of allowing businesspeople to manipulate politicians are.

I think you're confusing something here. I never thought this conversation was JUST about big business. When I say it is a businesses nature to profit in any way they can, it is because it's true. I've never said that businesses couldn't be limited to what and how they do things. I think this is an assumption on your part because I have disagreed with most of the proposed solutions, again, not the objection. When I say a government is tyyrannical by nature, it's because history has shown it to be true. Name one government that had no limits that has not been tyrannical.

 

And I also think people have assumed that I don't believe in laws at all, which is not true either. There are laws that can be passed that prevent any businesses underhandedness. The lack of limitation is what I'm more conscerned about when it comes to freedom, and you have yet to tell me how that philosophy is wrong, except that you can't argue against my "insurmountable wall".dry.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...

http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7t0jjLpPARgAbkBXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEydjVrZDFlBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA0RGRDVfODg-/SIG=138278ai5/EXP=1337654435/**http%3a//au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/13743929/putin-tightens-grip-with-new-government/

 

Is this what we can look forward to by further socializing government, or is it that the Russian people just aren't vigilant enough? Is this not an example of tyrannical domination bordering on dictatorship? Also, doesn't the strangle hold that Putin has seem to be a direct result of governmental control?

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  • 2 months later...

As a reminder, here is the article that triggered this exchange. It's a short read, but an interesting one:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/libertarian-illusions_b_1207878.html

 

ParanoiA called me out for not responding to his post here: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/67794-taxes-are-we-ready-for-these-new-ones/page__st__140__gopid__695836#entry695836

 

Which prompted my reply. Now with the meta comments out of the way, back to the thread...

 

Specious, prolific argument from ignorance. Notice how the argument is framed without any distinction between law (force) and free will (liberty). Those who make this argument in this way think laws codify all of our values, and that values are only recognized when legally forced. They cannot separate their personal preferences from political force. Expect vanilla ice cream to eventually be illegal when the majority prefers chocolate, at some point in the future.

The easy response to this is that it's a giant strawman supplemented by well poisoning. The better response is to explain why I criticize and sometimes challenge your position, and the position of quite a large many libertarians, so let me do that.

 

The issue here consistently seems to be one of nuance, and how the presentation of your worldview so regularly allows for none. It is presented almost without fail in an idealized state immune from criticism and not open to correction or adjustment... an idealization that is not grounded in the reality around us, but is instead based on oversimplified thought experiments and nonrepresentative scenarios... and it's an idealization that is presented as if libertarians are some intellectually untouchable ubermensch coming to spread their wisdom amongst the rest of the population whom they seem to see as a group of ignorant mountain trolls and drooling paste eaters.

 

That aside for a moment, the key challenge is that this world exists along a spectrum, and important matters in our society (such as liberty) cannot be adequately discussed or decided as if they function in some binary on/off either/or state. We exist in a world composed of countless shades of gray and things are neither as simple nor as black and white as the libertarian mindset requires. Liberty is far too broad of a concept to be functional in discussions like these, and it's like we're trying to argue about how objectively awesome something is or who loves someone more. Liberty is awesome, and I do love it, but it's a term equally ill-defined and fuzzy as those other two.

 

I've lived in other countries, and have worked with countless folks in regions that you would almost certainly describe as lacking in liberty... as far less free than the US... and you would almost certainly argue that this fact alone makes us better and them worse. You would likely ignore all other variables that should play into a decision regarding which countries are better off or which countries are worse... and you would likely focus solely on this abstract notion of liberty when deciding.

 

You would likely do this (please also notice how I couch my comments with uncertainties and don't say you WILL this or DO that, but you likely would... giving recognition that you're not part of some monolithic block... please notice how I'm trying to avoid generalizing and am working hard to treat you with respect as an individual)... you would likely argue that they are worse off than we are despite the fact that in reality their daily life is scarcely different from ours, and often quite a lot better. You would likely instead castigate them (or more likely people such as me who may speak rationally on their behalf) as being a lesser society even though they often have far better opportunities available to them to enhance the health and wellbeing of them and their families... far better opportunities than you and I ever will here in the US... and all because you have classified them as "less free" like that's the end of the conversation. Do not pass go, do not collect $200... and all because they recognized that life has nuance and all because these nations made a decision that one-dimensional approaches to huge complex issues are rarely successful.

 

Your ideology requires you to see them as less well off merely because they were smart about their choices and practical in their decision making as a nation and chose to briefly recognize that the concept of liberty is not some deity to blindly worship. Your ideology mandates that you fault them unilaterally for failing to engage in their discussions with blinders on... for failing to worship the idol of unfocused liberty... for showing the maturity and wisdom to acknowledge that pure freedom and unadulterated liberty alone are not the only important metrics to consider when facilitating the success of a nation in our modern world. But no... your position does not allow for that. Your position is one-dimensional. Live free or die... all or nothing... my way or the highway... if you're not first, you're last... it's either 100% or zero...

 

My deeper point is that there are different types of liberty, different degrees and types of freedom, and different applications of it that warrant consideration and due respect in discussions of this nature. We must continuously update our approach to account for those varying degrees and important differences, especially on topics that impact us all. Analogies notoriously fail, but the concept of liberty is a lot like the concept of health. We are neither completely healthy nor completely unhealthy, but always somewhere in the middle. We should certainly try to maximize our health, but we must also recognize that seeking pure 100% health often results in negative consequences in other parts of our life. The sole focus on perfect health would likely cause our friendships to suffer and our free time to diminish... it would result in economic hardship, or problems at work, or we would enjoy far fewer amazing meals or pleasant evenings with cocktails with friends, etc... We recognize that a pure unquestioning focus on 100% health generates other downstream problems, and that instead a balance must be found.

 

Liberty is much the same way, IMO. While we should seek to maximize it, we must do so with the recognition that... like the concept of health... it exists along a spectrum... a spectrum that varies given the circumstance... a spectrum that will always present us with certain trade-offs and decision points... decision points that allow us to structure our nation and our world as a well-planned and properly functioning society that maximizes the good of the most people possible. Liberty is not some all or nothing ideal. It's a deeply complex, nuanced, and context-dependent quality. That is where I focus my arguments. Despite your assertion to the contrary, I'm not pushing that my values must be codified by law, or that values only exist when legally enforced. I don't think that preference for ice cream flavors I don't personally enjoy should be made illegal, and frankly you sound like a bloody moron for even suggesting such a thing. All comments like that do is to show how deeply you have let your ideology caricature my position (and the position of others like me) in your mind, and just how cartoonish your version of the world really is on this topic.

 

You start your comments by poising the well, you insert copious strawmen into the mix, and then move away from objective rational discussion and go straight to the barbs and character attacks. Don't act all surprised and aflutter when I choose that it's not worth my time to engage you and when I choose to ignore you instead.

 

 

Libertarians extend this same respect to property and happiness. They insist on mutual consent to trade, not coercion, since their property was earned, not given to them by the state – generally by providing labor and mining wealth. And that doesn’t imply they have no intention of helping people any more than mutual consent for intimacy implies no intention of affection or social interaction. One does not follow the other.

This reminds me of the outrage Obama is facing by his "You didn't build that comment." You act as if your personal efforts and drive alone led to your success... like the roads we share or the schools that educated us or the safety and enforcement mechanisms in place to reduce crime played no part. I suspect you would acknowledge each of those things as important, yet you fail to update your one-dimensional ideology upon making that acknowledgement.

 

You break the world into "leftists and libertarianisms," you disparage those who criticize your position as if they are somehow less intelligent and missing some profound truth that only you have found, and it's a lot like discussion with a religious fanatic. We can disagree with each other without treating each other as enemies and without dehumanizing one another into subhumans easy to snipe and kill. We don't have to align 100% of everything to share common goals and tremendous overlap in our thinking. The responsibility for improving the world around us must be carried together by each of us, yet your posts on this subject treat all of those who think differently as if they are dirty insects... it's a modern day tribalism... us versus them... 'yer either with us 'er aginst us...

 

Seriously... Through the years and again right here in this very thread you have misrepresented my position so profoundly that I'm unsure even where to begin. We agree on far more than you seem to acknowledge. I am happy to stipulate that. However, your posts don't imply that you are. It appears very much that in your mind the concepts of liberal and progressive have become equivalent to rapist or booger eater. I have no patience for that. I'm hardly an ignorant or unreasonable man, yet that's how you treat me, so I say go ahead and fuck off to save time. I've got better things to do.

 

 

Liberals and moderates use their government to provide the altruism members of a modern society need, and thus cannot escape the paradigm in order to properly represent the ideology of libertarians. Libertarians and conservatives take it upon themselves to provide the altruism and resent the coercion by the state to divert their precious resources to state endorsed charities, instead of individually chosen charity.

Do you have any more broad sweeping generalizations you'd like to use as the foundation of your position? I, for one, support the changes needed to escape the self-reinforcing cycle of poverty. I, for one, understand the desire to hand out food to hungry people, but prioritize the need to alter their circumstance in such a way that they can provide for themselves. But no... this has become a pissing contest... In your mind, libertarianism is like the Aryan master race where all others are inferior beings who should be castrated and purged... and all for some vague amorphous concept of liberty. Shall we start chanting U.S.A!! U.S.A!! U.S.A!! like mindless zombies next just to keep with the theme of the thread?

 

 

America did not achieve its greatness under a specialized, centralized value system beaten into the citizenry - it achieved it's greatness with liberty. This "single-minded" ideology promotes more diversity and more freedom than any mixture of centralized, state mandated value systems.

Why not argue that "America achieved its greatness with love," or some other deepity? You're using a vastly abstract concept and trying to position it as some foundational support beam. As I already shared above, there are greatly differing degrees of liberty... degrees that vary based on context and circumstance and situation... yet you posit this one monolithic vagary as if it's some impenetrable fountainhead that unquestionably extinguishes all other counterpoints (which is part of the reason I find your position so unrealistic and frankly childish).

 

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deepity

 

 

I am not asking you to abandon the way you prioritize freedom and liberty. I am not asking you to become some socialist who wants to rob Peter to pay Paul. I am merely pointing out that our modern world is too complex to allow for such oversimplified one-dimensional representations like your ideology requires. I am trying to call attention to the fact that freedom and liberty take different shapes and have different forms and that sometimes real harm is done by prioritizing the abstract over the tangible... the individual over the sum of the parts. I am saying that we agree on a ton, that there is room for debate, and that to perform proper cost/benefit analyses and to make rational decisions sometimes we must ultimately limit freedom itself in specific ways. I agree we need to remain ever vigilant and ensure we don't boil ourselves like the frog in the pot, and that we must be cautious not to let our freedoms gently erode, but I refuse to jump on board with this childish, deeply facile Randian objective morality and single-minded worship of the ill founded amorphous concept of liberty like it's the only thing that matters.

 

Regardless... I trust you'll just cast my thoughts aside as leftist propaganda and then follow-up with an accusation that I'm trying to codify my personal values and ice cream preferences into law. It's been fun.

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iNow,

I would like to comment on something, if I may.

This reminds me of the outrage Obama is facing by his "You didn't build that comment." You act as if your personal efforts and drive alone led to your success... I am trying to call attention to the fact that freedom and liberty take different shapes and have different forms and that sometimes real harm is done by prioritizing the abstract over the tangible... the individual over the sum of the parts.

 

 

The first bolded part that I have quoted you on is absolutely true and in no way argues your point. In fact, I would say it's counterproductive in that it's an individual's liberty that is the main reason for the sum of its parts being what they are. There was outrage towards Obama's statement because it underscored his leaning towards socialism and the push to dictate people into excersizing values that others want them to (even if it is not their own). So what, if a person makes it somewhere in life due to the people who have helped or inspired them. Does that mean that individual liberty isn't the reason that person made it somewhere? Hell no. It was individual liberty that allowed others to get themselves into a position to give that help/inspiration.

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The first bolded part that I have quoted you on is absolutely true and in no way argues your point. In fact, I would say it's counterproductive in that it's an individual's liberty that is the main reason for the sum of its parts being what they are.

Rubbish. Your "individual liberty" had nothing to do with building those roads, or those schools, or funding those teachers, or the firefighters and police officers who protected your neighborhood, or ad infinitum. That's the point. Sure, your hard work was a major contributor to your personal success, but so too was the infrastructure that allowed for it, and to argue otherwise is both wrong and ignorant.

 

There was outrage towards Obama's statement because it underscored his leaning towards socialism and the push to dictate people into excersizing values that others want them to (even if it is not their own).

Rubbish, again. There was "outrage" against Obama because it was manufactured by people who were clearly quoting him out of context and ignoring what he actually said, instead replacing it with what they wanted to pretend he said. I know that many neo-conservatives are unfamiliar with these, but what Obama shared are called "facts." They are a nifty concept that I recognize doesn't always make it into your reporting, but they do matter all the same. What he shared were facts, not values. The faux manufactured outrage tried to spin those facts into a comment about values, but they were presented as an objective truth and should be treated as such.

 

So what, if a person makes it somewhere in life due to the people who have helped or inspired them. Does that mean that individual liberty isn't the reason that person made it somewhere? Hell no. It was individual liberty that allowed others to get themselves into a position to give that help/inspiration.

You seem to have ignored or not understood the central thrust of my comments above that your comment is so vague and broad as to be useless. You may as well argue that it was love that got them there. You cannot adequately address these issues with one-dimensional simplifications like, "it was liberty that did it." That is a meaningless deepity that sounds profound but describes practically nothing.

Edited by iNow
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