>Liberals vs. Conservatives on Charitable Giving

>

Arthur Brooks, Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University has discovered something counter-intuitive: Conservatives are more charitable than Liberals. His new book is called Who Really Cares, and it analyses charitable giving along political lines. In an excerpt found on his webpage he writes,

The data tell us that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. In most ways, political conservatives are not personally less charitable than political liberals—they are more so.
I feel, intuitively, that he is right. Knowing religious (notice I’m equating the religious with conservatives, but that’s ok) people as I’ve grown up, they do seem to be more “civically engaged”. Not only in their church activities, but also in things like the 4-H club, student government and other various activities on my public school campus.
Though Brooks makes it clear at the outset that government spending is not charity – and in this I agree – I think he downplays the Liberal case against charity and for state expenditures toward the same ends. Liberals believe that charity is more or less an addendum to the main work of mandating “charity” through acts of government. Private Charity, you see, offers help with strings attached or with too narrow a focus. Like the Liberal (or 1st generation Progressive) case against Mutal Aid Societies from the days of yore, private giving is stifled by preferences toward people of the same religion or ethnicity. It’s parochial. And even when this isn’t the case, the mission of conversion or of some goal generally unrelated to purely material wellbeing rubs many secular humanists the wrong way. (These are important critiques – and Brooks shows that this isn’t necessarily the case for Conservatives – but that’s for another discussion.)
Thus, a Liberal might counter Brooks by saying that political activism and agitation on behalf of a more noble public policy should be considered charity par excellence, as it supposedly overcomes the narrow and divisive forms of charity at the grassroots level. Though I disagree, seeing as how the voluntary act of charity turned coercive by an act of government can’t magically bring it to existence a suddenly nicer and more other-oriented human being, I bring up the Liberal counterargument for more or less Devil’s Advocate purposes. If people can’t do it willingly, then it says something about the very people who will be trusted to oversee monies theoretically meant for the poor. Human compassion can’t be brought about by fiat.
But let it be better said by a women far more intelligent than myself, via a fellow Left-Lib traveller.
William Gillis, at his superb blog Human Iterations, recently posted a long forgotten debate by prominent Individualist Anarchist (at least for a portion of her life) Voltairine de Cleyre and Communist Anarchist Rosa Slobodinsky. A portion of the dialogue related to the above is found below:
COM.: “What! You will have the weak person suffer because he is weak? He may need as much, or more, than a strong one, but if he is not able to produce it what becomes of his equality?”
INDV.: “I have nothing against your dividing your product with the weaker man if you desire to do so.”
COM.: “There you are with charity again. Communism wants no charity.”
INDV.: I have often marveled on the singularity of Communistic mathematics. My act you call charity, our act is not charity. If one person does a kind act you stigmatize it; if one plus one, summed up and called a commune, does the same thing, you laud it By some species of alchemy akin to the transmutation of metals, the arsenic of charity becomes the gold of justice! Strange calculation! Can you not see that you are running from a bugaboo again? You change the name, but the character of an action is not altered by the number of people participating in it.”
MARVELOUS.
UPDATE: After having flipped through his book at work, I see he doesn’t exactly “downplay” the Liberal case against charity, but explores it pretty thoroughly. (Not that there isn’t more to be said, I’m sure, by some of the people he criticizes, such as Ralph Nader.)
Advertisements

20 thoughts on “>Liberals vs. Conservatives on Charitable Giving

  1. >If people can’t do it willingly, then it says something about the very people who will be trusted to oversee monies theoretically meant for the poor. Human compassion can’t be brought about by fiat.a. I think we all know from our own life that there are plenty of circumstances in which “what we do” and “what we want to do” are quite different. An example I give is quitting smoking. You want to quit but you smoke- does that mean you don’t want to quit? That said, setting something up in which you pledge to do something in order that you’ll follow through is reasonable.b. far more important, is your discussion of “charity.” If i cared a whit about Marxism I would call it Bourgeois of you. Anyway though, should we care more about the integrity of the act or should we care more about people not starving to death? It seems to me that the focus on impure charity is silly in light of the fact that the effect of immediately eliminating government aid would be starvation, death and the deepening of poverty.Try this example: What would you prefer? A. A world in which all property rights were simply respected and therefore never needed to be defended by force?orB. A world in which property rights often needed to be enforced by a resort to violence?Certainly you’d pick A., right? Does that mean that you don’t support using force to enforce property rights? As you can see, that’s a nonsense argument.Incidentally, I advocate creating a society in which so-called “charity” isn’t coerced by state-violence. However, I do recognize the temporary benefit of such “lesser-of-two-evils” coercion.

  2. >That said, setting something up in which you pledge to do something in order that you’ll follow through is reasonable.Let me restate this poorly-written sentence: “Advocating a system under which you pledge or commit to something in advance to ensure follow-through in often reasonable.” This is about taxation if that wasn’t clear.

  3. >As for (a), I think that dichotomy is something we all deal with internally. We “want” to be less lazy, exercise more, do more volunteer work, but we don’t. Yet our hesitation speaks louder than our words (or thoughts). Performance trumps intentions. So, yea, I could say I want to smoke less, but my actions – “demonstrated preference” in econ speak – tell otherwise. So in fact no, I don’t really want to quit smoking, or being a couch potato, etc. Of course the smoking example you put forth is difficult, because it is an “addiction”. I agree that integrity is less important than people eating, but I didn’t think I was faced with that stark choice when writing my post. The creation of the welfare state, in America at least, was not something that happened instantaneously in the face of mass starvation. And to the degree that state welfare increased during “emergencies”, this is in large part due to the state itself. If the US instantly pulled out of Iraq, and closed all its military bases both at home and abroad, there would be, in the short term, increased misery and anxiety on the part of the 500,000 or so people whose livelihood depends on the military-industrial complex. Nobody really believes in instant change, but defacto gradualism alongside the rhetoric of radical, overnight transformation is the way to go. As for deepening poverty, seeing as how government aid is dependent on the wealth that only non-state actors can create, the eradication of government would, by definition, increase total wealth. I can refer you to strategies for replacing the modern internal empire (pejorative language, I know) with voluntary-anarchist institutions by people more knowledgeable than myself. State agencies turned worker owned co-ops and other such things. Kevin Carson, Brad Spangler and others have written extensively about this.

  4. >>>>That said, setting something up in which you pledge to do something in order that you’ll follow through is reasonable.>>>Let me restate this poorly-written sentence: “Advocating a system under which you pledge or commit to something in advance to ensure follow-through in often reasonable.” This is about taxation if that wasn’t clear. Are you actually saying that taxation is a system wherein reasonable people agree to commit their money in advance so as to ensure responsible giving? Because, presumably, left to their own devices, nobody would give and a tragedy of the commons involving vital public goods would ensue?

  5. >I think your characterization of activism is oversimplistic. Leftist activism does not always entail some group trying to get the government to force it’s citizens to do something. NORML wants the government to stop criminalizing marijuana use. Anti-war activists want the government to stop using American lives and money to engage in violence. Pro-choice groups want the government to keep abortion legal.Sometimes the goal of liberal activism is not policy change of any kind, but merely education. For instance, attending a panel featuring transgender speakers might make the attendee less likely to discriminate against them. Or watching a film about Mexican migrant workers may cause one to reconsider their views on immigration. Sometimes these educational activities may have the ultimate goal of affecting policy, but not always. The activist student group I was involved in was more interested in promoting tolerance and creating safe havens than passing anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. In fact, our hope was that if we enlightened enough people, such laws would be unnecessary.I never considered my activism a form of charity, though I was exerting time, effort, and sometimes money trying to improve the lives of people similar to and different than myself. But in light of this discussion, my work seems at least as charitable as giving someone a hot meal in exchange for making them listen to ‘the gospel.’

  6. >As for deepening poverty, seeing as how government aid is dependent on the wealth that only non-state actors can create, the eradication of government would, by definition, increase total wealth.This is incorrect for two reasons. There’s one that’s simple to point out, and there’s another that’s more important but a little more subtle. First off, it’s obviously possible (if not likely) that maintaining large multinational corporations whilst eliminating the state would further deepen inequality. Whether more wealth is created is beside the point, since the problem we face is one of distribution. We have the wealth in the country already to solve many of the problems we’re discussing.Are you actually saying that taxation is a system wherein reasonable people agree to commit their money in advance so as to ensure responsible giving? Because, presumably, left to their own devices, nobody would give and a tragedy of the commons involving vital public goods would ensue?It’s more complicated than this, of course. However, given the societal structures in place Taxation is presently the best and most important means of ensuring and directing safety net and foreign aid spending. Not to mention the Keynsian spending that keeps the economy afloat. More on that in a minute. There are possible arrangements of society in which taxation wouldn’t be necessary, and we should strive for those. For now, however, we should aim to decrease the democratic deficit and take control of what our taxes are spent on which is the best way of immediately reducing the “theft” effect.Kevin Carson I respect a good bit, incidentally. I’m far less impressed with Capitalism than he (there’s no evidence that it can function without an interventionist state priming the Keynsian pump- via the military for the last 60 years.) From what I understand though our models of ideal societies, with a focus on democratic control of the workplace via workers councils, are very much in line.

  7. >I have a “first off” in that first paragraph that never was followed by a “secondly.” The parenthetical note about military Kensianism was going to be my second point though, because I believe that the immediate eradication of the state would send the economy into a tailspin. Meaning it wouldn’t create wealth.

  8. >Matt, As for eliminating the state WHILE bolstering multinational corporations, I don’t accept the dichotomy. That is, I don’t see multinational corporations as antithetical to the state, but an outgrowth of it. Not only is limited liability a state granted privelege, but corporate welfare makes up a larger proportion of the “welfare state” than anything having to do with food stamps or Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (Though probably not Social Security and Medicaid together – but they are mostly a middle class to middle class transfer.) With this in mind, to “roll back the state” would mean to roll back corporate welfare. But even then, when one realizes that airline bailouts are defacto job bailouts for their vast employee roster, the implications for a reduction in the state’s power in this Corporatist (friendly Fascist?) structure we have makes for a potentially populist uproar. What was the second reason you had?”…given the societal structures in place Taxation is presently the best and most important means of ensuring and directing safety net and foreign aid spending.” If by this you mean the best way of ensuring that the administrative state takes its cut and that its current recipients (to whom it trickles down) maintain the status quo, then yes. If “best” means the surest way of raising the poor out of poverty, then I disagree. Let’s forget the idea, just for a minute, of eradicating the welfare state and freeing methods of wealth creation from the parasitic state (of which a state is by defintion, to varying degrees). We could start by cutting out the salaried state employee who dispenses funds indirectly to welfare recipients, and instead give the money to the recipient directly. Would this not be better? For instance, approximately 6K per child is spent in state schools. Give the money to the kid’s parents, or the kid herself. No? This plan would actually keep intact your idea of necessary taxation, but do away with the middlemen, as it were. As for Foreign Aid, it’s a government to government transfer benefiting primarily the political class, and less effective than remittances due to beauracratic pocket lining and other familiar inefficency problems. Not to mention that it can’t end up being anything other than a defacto extension of American and European designs on the world.”…we should aim to decrease the democratic deficit and take control of what our taxes are spent on which is the best way of immediately reducing the ‘theft’ effect.” What better way to take control of what our taxes are spent on than by denying the right to take our money to begin with? There is no need to “take control” of our monthly pizza and dvd funds, because we already control them. But anyway, I’m sure we’d agree that the best way to reduce the democratic deficit would be through radical decentralization and direct democracy, where the principal-agent problems are more easily dealt with. Taxation at the Federal level is certainly contra democratic accountability, as the difficulty of having one’s voice heard among 300 million people is obvious.”Kevin Carson I respect a good bit, incidentally. I’m far less impressed with Capitalism than he (there’s no evidence that it can function without an interventionist state priming the Keynsian pump- via the military for the last 60 years.) From what I understand though our models of ideal societies, with a focus on democratic control of the workplace via workers councils, are very much in line.” Is Kevin impressed with capitalism? I’m fairly certain his blog title touts that he is against capitalism. As for other obvious capitalists, such as those at the Mises Institute, I know they are no fans of Keynesianism, military or otherwise, and have done some good research involving leftist historians like Seymour Melman on military spending and its relation to Bastiat’s insight on opportunity costs. I wouldn’t speak for him, but I myself am most certainly a fan of free markets and private property. I think democracy is feasible, and non abusive, only at the smallest level. With the requisite voluntary aspect included, it seems obvious to me that market transactions would make up the bulk of human interactions, corresponding to differing subjective values among individuals and their chosen, often temporary, acquaintances.

  9. >Ok, I see now your second point about Keynesianism. I agree that if the state were immediately eradicated, less wealth would be created in the short term because those dependant on the state would find themselves in a state (no pun) of disarray. But this is a familiar problem involving short term “health” vs. long term health. See my earlier point about ending the global military-industrial complex. You know, it’s like a Heroin addict who realizes he needs to go through the pains of withdrawal in order to lead a healthier life.

  10. >Thanks for responding quickly and politely, by the way. On the catallarchy thread did you capitalize “Tit for Tat” as a reference to that old program? Furthermore, did you find out about the program from a Hofstadter book? You and I might have a lot to discuss. Apologies for the length.As for eliminating the state WHILE bolstering multinational corporations, I don’t accept the dichotomy. That is, I don’t see multinational corporations as antithetical to the state, but an outgrowth of it.I like madison’s phrase- the “tools and tyrants” of government, since it really is sort of a mutually supporting relationship. Not entirely though. There’s a sense in which the government is simply responsive to the population. In reference to your point, two things:A. When we speak of dismantling “the state” we’re of course discussing the current quasi-democratic US structures. It isn’t to say that state-like entities won’t be created to serve the interests of large multinational who, we both agree, will be veritably starved without the state. Without eliminating those collections of private power, such new state-like institutions are inevitable. I’ll give an illustration is you like.B. We’d have a residual justice problem in that the State and large corporations have conspired to steal from us and haven’t yet paid us back. If A conspires with B to steal C’s money, they owe C. Not only is limited liability a state granted privelege, but corporate welfare makes up a larger proportion of the “welfare state” than anything having to do with food stamps or Women, Infants and Children (WIC).We agree here- it’s called “the defense budget.” (There are others of course.) I see that as a problem that should be solved in the short term by increased democratic control of the current gov’t structure. I assume you do too, simply because that’d be the only way to eliminate the state anyway. (Though probably not Social Security and Medicaid together – but they are mostly a middle class to middle class transfer.)The discretionary/non-discretionary budget distinction is relevent here, and though misleading it’s good one given the nature of social security. Corporatist (friendly Fascist?)Mussolini reference? If by this you mean the best way of ensuring that the administrative state takes its cut and that its current recipients (to whom it trickles down) maintain the status quo, then yes. If “best” means the surest way of raising the poor out of poverty, then I disagree.It’s not the most ideal way of decreasing poverty, we agree. Nevertheless it’s a tremendously important social safety net. To elucidate our ideas let’s discuss something concrete shall we? Social Security is an incredibly important guarantee system that keeps many of the elderly and disabled from dire poverty, would we be better off without it tomorrow? Or after “growing pains” a year from now? Not a chance in hell. We’d need major changes in modes of organization in the US. Having a structure with which to replace Social Security is an absolute requirement given the stakes.Incidentally, Social Security is a remarkable system without many of the drawbacks of normal government programs (1% administrative costs would be enviable in the most competitive of markets.) We could start by cutting out the salaried state employee who dispenses funds indirectly to welfare recipients, and instead give the money to the recipient directly. Would this not be better?Economies and States are far too complicated for these sorts of simplifications. If the wealthy elite simply invested in another state that would hand them money we’d have a radical divestment that would wreck the economy. The poor and middle class who possess a relatively small amount of the disposable wealth in the country would be left to try and provide humanitarian solutions to the poor and elderly. Besides, the costs of distribution and information costs to individual donator might be even higher than they are now. See above about the Admin costs of SS, or compare the Socialized French health care system to our more private one. The total costs (which don’t include the incredible information costs we face in the US) to the US citizen is over double. I have no doubt that you despise the HMO system as I do, but it’s still instructive because of its private elements. For instance, approximately 6K per child is spent in state schools. Give the money to the kid’s parents, or the kid herself. No? This plan would actually keep intact your idea of necessary taxation, but do away with the middlemen, as it were.Who’s to say that the money would still go there? Just as likely is that, in the absence of social structures the richest would find it easiest to simply rationalize inaction/selfishness. As for Foreign Aid, it’s a government to government transfer benefiting primarily the political class, and less effective than remittances due to beauracratic pocket lining and other familiar inefficency problems.We agree here too. It’s less effective, but it’s not zero. This is a problem that’s best solved in the short-run by forcing the state to target aid more effectively (or with different aims.) Not to mention that it can’t end up being anything other than a defacto extension of American and European designs on the world.But by making “American designs” mean less “the interests of the wealthy ruling class” and more “the interests of the broad populace” we’d have a radical improvement. Especially since Americans have a hearty respect for the autonomy and freedom of other nations. You can see this in our leaders’ choice of propaganda, for one. What better way to take control of what our taxes are spent on than by denying the right to take our money to begin with?It’s not just “those guys” taking “our money.” There’s an element of “Us” using the state mechanism to distribute “our money” (including the money of wealthy elites who have colluded to steal it from us) as we see fit. The state, to a degree, is “us” and I’m advocating (again, in the short term- I think the state is ultimately illegitimate) increasing the “us” factor. But anyway, I’m sure we’d agree that the best way to reduce the democratic deficit would be through radical decentralization and direct democracy, where the principal-agent problems are more easily dealt with.In the ideal, we agree completely. In the present a move toward federalism would simply increase the power of multinationals by allowing them to play the federations off of each other for benefits. It’s irrational now to give out so much corporate welfare, as I’m sure we agree. However, it’s easy to imagine how-under a federalist structure- it would actually be rational to lie prostrate before large collections of wealth and give them whatever they want. This is the classic race to the bottom effect. Is Kevin impressed with capitalism? I’m fairly certain his blog title touts that he is against capitalism.Oh yeah, I always forget which person is picking which nit. Kidding- replace capitalism with “Free Markets.” Of course, I’m suspicious that we’re referring to roughly the same thing though I would never call it a free market. As for other obvious capitalists, such as those at the Mises Institute, I know they are no fans of Keynesianism, military or otherwise, and have done some good research involving leftist historians like Seymour Melman on military spending and its relation to Bastiat’s insight on opportunity costs.I’m not a “fan” of it, but it’s been recognized (by the US, at least) since after WW2 that it was the only viable way of preventing the inherent instability and subsequent catastrophes presented by markets. I believe that there are alternate ways to arrange things, but I think we should be humble enough to recognize the delicateness of our economy. You know, it’s like a Heroin addict who realizes he needs to go through the pains of withdrawal in order to lead a healthier life. These Heroin Addicts are, for instance, our nations elderly. Eliminating the state tomorrow would be an absolute disaster, and would probably result in a simple adoption of pure fascism. I feel it’s understating matters a bit even to call this position “presumptuous”, as it’s tantamount to telling a 70 year old depending on her next check “You’re aren’t going to get it, but I’m sure something else will happen that will take care of you so you needn’t worry. And if you starve, that may well be a growing pain.”Anyway, I look forward to your response. I’ve been arguing with Libs for years, but never spent much time discussing things with a left lib- should be interesting.

  11. >”Thanks for responding quickly and politely, by the way. On the catallarchy thread did you capitalize “Tit for Tat” as a reference to that old program? Furthermore, did you find out about the program from a Hofstadter book? You and I might have a lot to discuss. Apologies for the length.” Yes, I was referencing Tit for Tat. And I read it in the Axelrod book.”I like madison’s phrase- the “tools and tyrants” of government, since it really is sort of a mutually supporting relationship. Not entirely though. There’s a sense in which the government is simply responsive to the population.” Well, yes, it’s responsive to organized interest groups. As for the rest of the population, as long as they go along to get along, it’s all good. It’s responsive, I suppose, in the sense that as long as people believe in the fiction of the state – that it is, I’m sorry to tell you, “us” – then it will exist without much tension vis a vis the populace.”We’d have a residual justice problem in that the State and large corporations have conspired to steal from us and haven’t yet paid us back. If A conspires with B to steal C’s money, they owe C.” The state unfortunately can’t “pay us back” without first taking from us. (How does it pay us back, other than “robbing peter to pay paul”?) Apart from that, it can print money which is a fraud, or it can sell/give away its assets. Since the state has no right to sell a damn thing (because it can’t legitimately own it), I’m all for giving away state institutions to those currently occupying them. This could be a great thing for, let’s say, welfare recipients in government housing. As for corporations, to the extent that they are thoroughly enmeshed in the state and reliant upon it for their success, same goes for them. By this I mean that corporations whose main client is the state ought to be treated as an arm of the state itself. As for Intellectual Property, and the unjust profits accrued through that, it’s trickier. I’d simply abolish that privilege.”Without eliminating those collections of private power, such new state-like institutions are inevitable.”I’m not sold on fear of private power being a reason to maintain what is essentially private power right now. After all, the state is nothing more than a collection of individuals calling themselves “the state” that act in their own interests. So the idea is to counter potential monopoly by maintaining a current monopoly? If by eliminating collections of private power you mean corporations, then we’ve already discussed the extent to which the mega corporations are reliant upon state power in the first place, and in fact actively seek it.”I see that as a problem that should be solved in the short term by increased democratic control of the current gov’t structure.”Hm, I’m suspicious of the idea that short term will remain short term. I submit that the problem should be solved by increased abolition of the current government structure. What does increased democratic control mean exactly? In the case of Social Security, for instance, one of the most powerful groups in Washington – the AARP – is deadset against allowing younger people to save for their own retirement. That’s what involuntary democracy means: one group pitted against another in a zero sum game. And contrary to myth, the elderly have more wealth than the young. Just as one can defend SS for its benefit to a relative minority of poor, one can defend the global military presence for its “jobs programs” for the relatively working and lower middle class. Any rollback of the state will necessarily hear the argument “What about the poor, the kids, etc.” Every strata of society is involved at this point.I was referencing John T. Flynn probably more than Mussolini, but sure, Corporatism is simply the economic wing of the Fascist program.”We’d need major changes in modes of organization in the US. Having a structure with which to replace Social Security is an absolute requirement given the stakes.”Of course I see this as putting the cart before the horse. It’s that much more difficult to find a way to replace Social Security as long as it is in place. Am I correct in thinking that you are against ending the payroll tax and letting those working keep their money? 1% administrative costs? I’ve heard different. If congressmen routinely hire extra office staff because they can, I find it hard not to believe that the Social Security Administration – a collection of individuals privately benefiting just like any corporation – isn’t taking a nice bonus given that the money they receive is obtained by force.”If the wealthy elite simply invested in another state that would hand them money we’d have a radical divestment that would wreck the economy. The poor and middle class who possess a relatively small amount of the disposable wealth in the country would be left to try and provide humanitarian solutions to the poor and elderly.”Then again if the regulatory state, which big business loves, were to be eliminated, the wealth creating opportunities for the poor and middle class would be greatly increased. Don’t give the rich that much credit. And I think the poor and middle class are more than able to provide humanitarian solutions. Look at Katrina. The “real” people ran circles around the bloated, bumbling FEMA (which stands to get even more) in both effectiveness and moral integrity.”Who’s to say that the money would still go there? Just as likely is that, in the absence of social structures the richest would find it easiest to simply rationalize inaction/selfishness.”So basically if people were given the money directly, the rich would divest from “public” schools, leaving the poor out of luck? Again, I don’t give the rich, nor state schools in fact, that much credit. The rich because a lack of money isn’t the problem with state schools, and state schools because they aren’t the cats meow to begin with, and thus aren’t necessarily worth saving. “This [Foreign Aid] is a problem that’s best solved in the short-run by forcing the state to target aid more effectively (or with different aims.)”Again, since when does the short run stay short? There are built in mechanisms to political- bureaucratic means that prevent them from acting effectively. Political appointment of funds, rather than client based, are one obvious problem. And since the money is simply dispersed on a non-voluntary basis, there is simply no way of knowing if what it’s going for is something people really value, because it isn’t consensual. Sure, in the abstract we know that people want “good health”, but in the absence of voluntary procurement – “markets” if you will – how does one know whether to allocate more funds to one form of illness/education/development plan or the other? Not to mention the way that “First World” aid undermines indigenous support mechanisms. “But by making ‘American designs’ mean less ‘the interests of the wealthy ruling class’ and more “the interests of the broad populace” we’d have a radical improvement.”Well, corporations aren’t the only actors on the world stage. NGOs (much of whom receive state support), various state agencies and other folks have designs as well. When the Sierra Club wishes for a nature preserve in northern India, it is implicated in the removal of indigenous people from the land. As for the “broad populace” in the US, they are overwhelmingly against foreign aid (and ignorantly enough they think it makes up far more of the US federal budget than it actually does). “In the present a move toward federalism would simply increase the power of multinationals by allowing them to play the federations off of each other for benefits. It’s irrational now to give out so much corporate welfare, as I’m sure we agree. However, it’s easy to imagine how-under a federalist structure- it would actually be rational to lie prostrate before large collections of wealth and give them whatever they want. This is the classic race to the bottom effect.”Well, I imagine federalism in the way the hardcore “anti-federalists” imagined it – as a complete legal separation from the larger political body. I think this would be quite a blow to multinationals, who currently use the larger political body to override the wishes of local jurisdictions. It’s more difficult to play each federation off each other for benefits than it is to simply to go Washington D.C. and take advantage of its widely cast net. Right now, the left-wing Middlebury Institute in Vermont headed by Kirkpatrick Sale is advocating secession for the very reason of taking back control of local affairs from rapacious corporations.If Berkeley were to secede, Wal-Mart, Costco and Automalls could kiss themselves goodbye. As long as it stays in the U.S., the 10th amendment (the Commerce Clause?) will have a say in the matter.It seems like we disagree on the matter of moving toward anarchy now. Any move toward decentralization or a decrease in the wealth of the state will put us at the mercy of corporations, “private power”, and poverty. Yet this very private power is bolstered by the state’s socialization of costs and grants of privilege (IP, subsidies, etc.) And the state can’t give us anything it didn’t take from us in the first place, showing that it is no cure for poverty, but its very benefactor.”I’m not a ‘fan’ of it, but it’s been recognized (by the US, at least) since after WW2 that it was the only viable way of preventing the inherent instability and subsequent catastrophes presented by markets.”Well, I’m not a Keynesian, so I don’t buy this stuff about the “inherent” instability and castastrophe of free markets. All of the economic catastrophes not caused by natural forces have been at the hands of governments, and that includes the Great Depression. The road to state control of the economy and the essentially economic Fascism advocated by Keynes is well documented by us Libs.

  12. >By the way, I’m ignorant about how to italicize your comments. I wrote my response in word, italicized it there, but it didn’t transfer. Sorry for any headaches…

  13. >Also, in an effort to give credit where credit is due, it appears you are right about the Social Security Administrations comparatively low cost of operations. I dug around a little on the internet, and EVEN read it from prominent libertarians like Tyler Cowen. This makes it an anomoly of course 🙂

  14. >by the way to italicize, just put this: before the relevent phrase and this: after it. It’s responsive, I suppose, in the sense that as long as people believe in the fiction of the state – that it is, I’m sorry to tell you, “us” – then it will exist without much tension vis a vis the populace.The is a percentage of the state that will never be us, I agree. I think it could be as small as 5% with the right democratic pressures and so on, but it’s still there. And furthermore, with that level of organization there’s no reason for the state so it should go. I’m sure we agree. The recognition that the state is shapeable via popular pressure is an important feature though, when compared to corporations and other large collections of wealth. The state unfortunately can’t “pay us back” without first taking from us. (How does it pay us back, other than “robbing peter to pay paul”?)If Peter stole from Paul, then I’m afraid I don’t see the problem. Making our redistributive taxation more focused and targeted is a good idea. I don’t consider this a major argument though (I think it’s good, but far too narrow.) This could be a great thing for, let’s say, welfare recipients in government housing.They get their P.O.S. house that they weren’t paying for in a shit neighborhood, but the check stop. My guess is they wouldn’t be overwhelmed with joy. As for corporations, to the extent that they are thoroughly enmeshed in the state and reliant upon it for their success, same goes for them.And I’ve yet to hear a persuasive argument for any major segment of our entire economy not being hopelessly enmeshed in the state. As for Intellectual Property, and the unjust profits accrued through that, it’s trickier. I’d simply abolish that privilege.A good first step, but just scratching the surface of state distortions of the economy. My guess is that it’s impossible to break out. We need to make our redistributive decision with an eye toward fairness.I’m not sold on fear of private power being a reason to maintain what is essentially private power right now.Nor am I. Using a powerful institution that’s response to democratic pressures in order to destroy institutions that are not (fascist structures like corporations) seems a neccesary and important first step to eliminating the imperfect polyarchic US state as well. After all, the state is nothing more than a collection of individuals calling themselves “the state” that act in their own interests.Correct, but because of certain historical occurences we have a collective control over “their interests” to a significant degree in theory. Certainly moreso than we do over corporations.Hm, I’m suspicious of the idea that short term will remain short term. I submit that the problem should be solved by increased abolition of the current government structure.I think the “short term” problem is serious but no more serious than the consideration of whether it’s practically possible to eradicate the state anyway. I.E.- you think it should eliminated now, I can’t see why that’s anymore plausible than eliminating it step by step so we’re not taking huge risks. In fact, if people find that conservative argument (i.e. the one I’m making) persuasive, it may well be more likely.What does increased democratic control mean exactly?Tax credits for campaign contributions, mobilized group voting blocs overlapping with other voting blocs in solidarity. Politicians show up to communities and ask what their policies ought to be, instead of selling some meaningless issue on a platter of unchangeable pro-business policies. In the case of Social Security, for instance, one of the most powerful groups in Washington – the AARP – is deadset against allowing younger people to save for their own retirement.I wouldn’t accept this framing of it. For one thing the structure of social security doesn’t allow for the creation of “saving accounts.” It would make far more sense to advocate an additional plan, otherwise you’re simply advocating that we abandon our commitment to elderly. We can get into this more, but the set-up is unlike a savings account. Furthermore, the AARP is a group of voters which is a good thing but they are hard;y one of th emost powerful groups in Washington. Unless you intend the word “groups” to exclude monied and corporate interests. Have a look at the fight over prescription drugs from Canada to see how powerful they are. When they come up against the simple right of large corporation to ensure state protection over a portion of it’s its profits it’s a huge battle and largely a losing one. That’s what involuntary democracy means: one group pitted against another in a zero sum game.It would be true if we actually didn’t care about the interests of others. But we do. Just as one can defend SS for its benefit to a relative minority of poor, one can defend the global military presence for its “jobs programs” for the relatively working and lower middle class. This is true, and one should weigh the benefits against such problems as overseas crimes and violent interventions, as well as the alternatives (like public works projects) to accomplish similar aims.Of course I see this as putting the cart before the horse. It’s that much more difficult to find a way to replace Social Security as long as it is in place.Maybe and maybe not it might be easier but the risks are higher (obviously.) My guess is that it’s not even a risk- you’re dealing with serious uncertainty. Human affairs are not well understood in detail, and expectations of highly coordinated voluntary reactions (under our current forms of social organization) to certain events aren’t even well founded practically much less theoretically. So we have a house with problems- do we fix it up in the short term and look for another house or do we burn it down in the hopes that our desperation will urge to build a new, better house? Am I correct in thinking that you are against ending the payroll tax and letting those working keep their money?Am I correct in thinking that you’re for letting the elderly starve to death?Then again if the regulatory state, which big business loves, were to be eliminated, the wealth creating opportunities for the poor and middle class would be greatly increased.I just don’t know that we’re justified in believing this. It doesn’t seem very intuitive for one hting, that if we eliminate the state and allow 70% of our wealth to flow out of the country things will simply get better because we’ll have “wealth-creating opportunities.” First let’s consider the degree to which those opportunities can be made real within our current confines. Don’t give the rich that much credit. And I think the poor and middle class are more than able to provide humanitarian solutions. I agree with you here- but we need our money which the rich have effectively stolen from us. I think we’re far better able.Look at Katrina. The “real” people ran circles around the bloated, bumbling FEMA (which stands to get even more) in both effectiveness and moral integrity.But unfortunately it was a disaster. There were plenty of profiles in courage, but that’s the kind of scenario I’m exactly afraid of- the state isn’t there people don’t have the resources or the modes of coordination to effect it. Even worse they can ignore it. These aren’t insurmountable problems- but we need serious non-state structures in place to help solve them. Also, we need mechanisms of social coersion to ensure that people don’t opt out.So basically if people were given the money directly, the rich would divest from “public” schools, leaving the poor out of luck? Yes, i think that’s true. The rich because a lack of money isn’t the problem with state schools, and state schools because they aren’t the cats meow to begin with, and thus aren’t necessarily worth saving.I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Ensuring a free education is vital to our social needs as well as basic human decency. The educational system should change but shouldn’t eradicated. Again, since when does the short run stay short?see above. I answered this already. Sure, in the abstract we know that people want “good health”, but in the absence of voluntary procurement – “markets” if you will – how does one know whether to allocate more funds to one form of illness/education/development plan or the other?I can’t see how this problem is made any different by introducing markets into the mix. If have gov’t agency Y which is under our control and Private businesses Q R and S which are not, I fail to see how the same knowledge we’d use in deciding between Q R and S wouldn’t allow us to figure out where to direct Y. In fact it’d eliminate a serious information problem: does Q R or S have enough money and support to make a difference and do I have the oversight to ensure that they do what they promise? Not to mention the way that “First World” aid undermines indigenous support mechanisms.Not if it’s directly funding and supporting them, which is the best thing in most cases. When the Sierra Club wishes for a nature preserve in northern India, it is implicated in the removal of indigenous people from the land.These are minor issues at best- point me to a case if you like, but I doubt very seriously that these do-gooders are harming Indians at 1/10,000 of the rate of neoliberal programs. As for the “broad populace” in the US, they are overwhelmingly against foreign aid (and ignorantly enough they think it makes up far more of the US federal budget than it actually does).You’re right about the second thing but not the first. While I suppose it’s “ignorant” I’ve certainly never seen the media discuss it, except with the implication that we’re so charitable. People assume foreign aid is high because it should be high, and they want it to increase because (presumably) they are aware of the level of privilege we have in society.http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/DefenseSpending/FedBudget_Mar05/FedBudget_Mar05_quaire.pdfHead down to Q15- I’m dying to make a post about this stuff, but people want Aid to go up dramatically (by a factor of 10.) It’s amazing how resilient the good will of Americans is given how much we pay in taxes (because our system isn’t progressive enough) and how little we get (because it goes to corporate welfare.)Well, I imagine federalism in the way the hardcore “anti-federalists” imagined it – as a complete legal separation from the larger political body.But I still think you’d be seeing “offers you can’t refuse.” I think you’d have a mafia system in which the coporations which control huge wealth could simply offer you jobs in exchange for you compromising certain things, or paying them or so on. I’m not being flip with the mafia analogy either- I think it’s quite plausible. I think this would be quite a blow to multinationals, who currently use the larger political body to override the wishes of local jurisdictions.It would be a blow if they weren’t able to simply muscle the jurisdictions directly. It’s more difficult to play each federation off each other for benefits than it is to simply to go Washington D.C. and take advantage of its widely cast net.I’ll have to ask you to explain yourself here, because I just don’t find this plausible. A powerful group (a corporations) finds it easier to control or influence a stronger organization rather than a weaker one? Right now, the left-wing Middlebury Institute in Vermont headed by Kirkpatrick Sale is advocating secession for the very reason of taking back control of local affairs from rapacious corporations.I recently had this conversation with some Quebecois separatists. i think it’s, honestly, rather Naive to assume Quebec would become anything other than a colder Guam. They’d enact a worker’s rights policy and corporations would simply send their money to a place that didn’t. Not to mention the fact that they’d probably be attacked by the US government.Well, I’m not a Keynesian, so I don’t buy this stuff about the “inherent” instability and castastrophe of free markets.I think this is simply borne out by history. You needn’t be a Keynsian to see it. State intervention has always destroyed free markets, and even in theory it seems clear that they’d destroy themselves. Environmentally, for one. All of the economic catastrophes not caused by natural forces have been at the hands of governments, and that includes the Great Depression.I’d be curious for you to elaborate. I agree in a sense, because I don’t think it’s even possible to distinguish markets from stat intevrention in America. The road to state control of the economy and the essentially economic Fascism advocated by Keynes is well documented by us Libs.Keynes’ big contribution was to advoacte social spending instead of government hand-outs to the rich. For that he had to be hung, sure.

  15. >My instructions on how to italicize failed miserably because they just created italics [slaps forehead.] Sorry. Open with this: without the spacingand close with this:

  16. >I tried italicizing, but alas it didn’t work. Perhaps I did something wrong, but I followed your directions and even previewed it and it seemed to be working. Sorry :(—The recognition that the state is shapeable via popular pressure is an important feature though, when compared to corporations and other large collections of wealth.—We basically disasgree about the power of VOICE as compared to EXIT. Would you disagree that it’s more difficult to avoid paying taxes than it is to avoid Wal-Mart? Like all nation-states, the USA is founded on coercion. Basically, you are forced to live by majority rule. In actuality, however, at the level of the federal government the idea of democracy is a joke. It’s perfectly rational to say “one vote doesn’t make a difference”. Those interests most organized – always a minority – have more power in effecting policy than the unorganized masses. And of course given my sympathy for individualist anarchy, there is nothing inherently virtuous about majority rules either.My point is that, with exit not being an option (and no, leaving the country is not a justified reccomendation, as the state and its defenders have no right asking “its” citizens to leave) – and even if one buys into this coerced democracy – the cost of exit is higher when compared with the private sector. It’s lobbying Washington vs. simply abstaining from buying products you dislike.And contrary to myth, everything the state offers is indeed a “service” that OUGHT to be subject to voluntary relations. Saying something MUST be “publicly” funded is simply a rationale for monopolists. (Electricity is one obvious example.)—If Peter stole from Paul, then I’m afraid I don’t see the problem. Making our redistributive taxation more focused and targeted is a good idea.—But redistribution IS stealing from Peter to pay Paul. (And again, most welfare in this country is from the middle class to the middle class.) I suppose if one believes that income is simply a privelege granted by the state, then saying that it’s “robbery” probably doesn’t fly. Of course I diasagree.—They get their P.O.S. house that they weren’t paying for in a shit neighborhood, but the check stop. My guess is they wouldn’t be overwhelmed with joy.—Well, looking at the largely positive response many in the so called “third world” have to being given land titles, I’m not so sure. I haven’t read any surveys of those who live in government housing as to the benefits of being given ownership (rather than being wards of the state subject to distant political controls), but I know the idea of school choice is quite popular in those neighborhoods.—And I’ve yet to hear a persuasive argument for any major segment of our entire economy not being hopelessly enmeshed in the state.—Yes, nearly everything is enmeshed in the state, but there is a difference between Boeing being given EX-IM bank funds and somebody not being able to start a radio station because they don’t have the proper permit from the FCC. (Why the hell is there an FCC anyway?)—This is true, and one should weigh the benefits against such problems as overseas crimes and violent interventions, as well as the alternatives (like public works projects) to accomplish similar aims.—I saw an advertisement for the Navy before a movie recently, and the whole thing was a showcase for the “social uplift” and “grassroots projects” they are apparently engaged in. Right. Even the Peace Corp is nothing more than an arm of “liberal imperailism” (for which you could include so called “humanitarian aid” and forced sterilization.) There was a great book called Making Them Like Us which detailed the way that well intentioned do-gooders inadvertently interrupted indigenous ways of life and crowded out local forms of welfare provision.Public Works projects abroad have largely been a mess, beset by corruption, bad design and the politicization of development.Just as with SS, there is a “transition” cost to ending the global US prseence, but you seem to want to try to replace with it something first, rather than simply end it. But as I’ve said, I’m suspicious that the new “alternative” will actually be phased out. The history of the US has not borne this out, at least the majority of the time. Robert Higgs’ government “ratchet” effect…in effect.—I agree with you here- but we need our money which the rich have effectively stolen from us.—Tell me if I have this right: Taxes are not theft, but the lack of stronger distribution from the rich to the poor IS theft? We probably disasgree here; I don’t think that by simply BEING rich, one has necessarily stolen from somebody else. You’d have to look at HOW that money was procured. Subsidies? Protectionism?The state is everywhere and always a thief, and is largely responsible for the power that the rich currently have over the nation. Socializing costs onto others is the cheapest way for the rich to get there way. If Halliburton had to pay for the war itself, it wouldn’t have been so eager to go to Iraq.—Using a powerful institution that’s response to democratic pressures in order to destroy institutions that are not (fascist structures like corporations) seems a neccesary and important first step to eliminating the imperfect polyarchic US state as well.—I don’t believe that the US is in fact responsive to democratic pressures (nice options at presidential election time eh?), or at least not with a high cost. Reprsentative Democracy, kind of a MUST with a nation so huge, is contra democracy because the prinicipal-agent problem is so steep. And even when it IS responsive to democratic pressures, I don’t see this as necessarily a positive, as it’s simply a coalition of certain interest groups lording it over everyone else.As for Fascist structures, I wouldn’t confuse Corporations with Corporatism. Corporations are outgrowths of the state, whereas Fascism (Corporatism) is a FORM of statism.—But unfortunately it was a disaster. There were plenty of profiles in courage, but that’s the kind of scenario I’m exactly afraid of- the state isn’t there people don’t have the resources or the modes of coordination to effect it. Even worse they can ignore it. These aren’t insurmountable problems- but we need serious non-state structures in place to help solve them. Also, we need mechanisms of social coersion to ensure that people don’t opt out.—Are you serious? FEMA was engaged in turning back loads of civil society support, including fisherman from nearby states who were attempting to provide suppoprt. Groups like the Common Grounds Collective, the Black Panthers and various religious organiztions were running circles around the ineffectual and actually destructive FEMA.Do you believe those “news stories” about rape and violence in the Astrodome, or people shooting at helicopters? Turns out that was a myth.Again, coercion can’t effectively deal with people who are not willing to good things voluntarily. Since state agencies draw from the population they live under, they can’t be any “nicer” than the population at large. That is, if some joe blow who goes to work for FEMA wasn’t the type to help people on his own BEFORE a disaster, he won’t be trustworthy DURING it. FEMA is in fact notorious for corruption, politicized funding (regions that are more eager to get their pet funding projects seen through are more succesful, not necessarily more in need.)—So basically if people were given the money directly, the rich would divest from “public” schools, leaving the poor out of luck? Yes, i think that’s true.—So becuase of this fear, those parents who would rather be able to choose where the child goes, and get the funding-per-child directly are SOL because rich people will ALSO have that option, and divest from schools? Wow. If money somehow correlated with better performace, which it doesn’t (look at large urban school districts as well as global superiority in education vis a vis the US), then this MIGHT make some sense.Let’s make a deal. Let those parents who WANT to opt out, opt out. Those that want to support “public” schooling (in actuality “state” schooling) get to, while those that don’t want to don’t have to. No need to worry about someone getting the shaft, because right now people make loads of decisions in the private sector without it being zero sum (my gain is your loss). Think of cars and DVDs. To the extent that there is still unfairness, I attribute it to state interference, such as regulation, which acts as a cartelizing effect in support of status quo business, but also non-profits, etc.—I can’t see how this problem is made any different by introducing markets into the mix. If have gov’t agency Y which is under our control and Private businesses Q R and S which are not, I fail to see how the same knowledge we’d use in deciding between Q R and S wouldn’t allow us to figure out where to direct Y. In fact it’d eliminate a serious information problem: does Q R or S have enough money and support to make a difference and do I have the oversight to ensure that they do what they promise?—Again, it’s a matter of voice vs. exit. Ensure that I can know what the government is up to? I’d disagree that corporations are any more secretive than governments, looking at it historcially. But again, if I’m suspicious of a corporation, I can simply withdraw my funds. The coercive effect of the state makes honestly and openness more difficult to achieve.—I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Ensuring a free education is vital to our social needs as well as basic human decency. The educational system should change but shouldn’t eradicated.—Common mistake: to think it’s “free”. Now of course it isn’t, as any funds that go to this educational monopoly are procured by expropriating wealth.State schools were formed to a) get a young population ready for the workforce in an increasinly industrial society and b) mold immigrants to a particular “American” way of life.One obvious reason to eschew monopoly schools is that monopoly, as I’m sure you’d agree, is bad.State schooling is also compuslory, which hardly seems “decent”. I myself would have loved to have been released from that prison called high school.—Am I correct in thinking that you are against ending the payroll tax and letting those working keep their money?Am I correct in thinking that you’re for letting the elderly starve to death?—Well, I guess you answered my question. Of course I’m not for letting the elderly starve, but nobody, not even the elderly, have any right to the stolen goods of others. And again, the elderly are on average wealthier than the young, thus to defend SS is to defend redistribution from poor to rich.Social Security is basically founded on a philosophical error. (Not to mention founded undemocratically and by a coalition of business and state interests in 1935.) It’s supposedly meant to help those that are forced – yes, forced – to opt in to it, yet those who participate have no actual claim on the money; money which is supposed to be put away for their retirement. Basically it amounts to “Yes, it’s for your benefit, but you have no say in the matter.” Huh? Given that well- being is subjective, how can someone other than myself claim to know what is best for me?SO basically it was instituted to help everybody, yet nobdody in particular.—Not to mention the way that “First World” aid undermines indigenous support mechanisms.Not if it’s directly funding and supporting them, which is the best thing in most cases.—Well, let’s see. Trying to circumvent the state in many of these countries would probably raise suspicion, especially if it’s still aid directed by the US government. The US is very much disliked by the world (though apparently Africa has a more positive view), so this puts non-governmental forms of aid such as remittances and other non-coercive forms of aid in a better light.And even if the US could succesfully gain access to indigenous societies, the political dimensions of US aid would still be strong on the US side of the equation. For instance, the government agency USAID has strings attached to its dispersal of money; the anti-malaria chemical DDT is not to be used by any group that is a recipient of USAID’s “help”.—When the Sierra Club wishes for a nature preserve in northern India, it is implicated in the removal of indigenous people from the land.These are minor issues at best- point me to a case if you like, but I doubt very seriously that these do-gooders are harming Indians at 1/10,000 of the rate of neoliberal programs.—1/10,000 the rate of neo-liberal programs? I’m afraid you’re not seeing the complete picture. Well, when added to the fact that the US, from the 1950s-1970s (before the more neo-liberal turn), aided many a public works project via the World Bank (a statist insitution mind you) that involved removing people from their land. Think Julius Nyerre’s Ujama, or “villigization” scheme of the 70s, aided and abbetted by the infamous Robert McNamara.Non-corporate elements have also had a hand in preventing indigenous farmers from using GMseeds. In fact, at one point a few years ago, there was a march on Delhi, India, demanding their legalization.My point is that neo-liberalism is not the only negative element affecting the well-being and livelihoods of people here and abroad.By the way, I’m against projects – probably most – that one could classify as “neo-liberal”. The Narmada Dam in India, something many libertarians and conservatives laud because it will modernize the country, is one example. This involves the removal of people from their land (an obvious property rights violation BTW) for the sake of some utilitarian calculus of “the greater good”.—Well, I imagine federalism in the way the hardcore “anti-federalists” imagined it – as a complete legal separation from the larger political body.But I still think you’d be seeing “offers you can’t refuse.” I think you’d have a mafia system in which the coporations which control huge wealth could simply offer you jobs in exchange for you compromising certain things, or paying them or so on. I’m not being flip with the mafia analogy either- I think it’s quite plausible.—(Well, the state is the mafia par excellence. Jacking us for “protection” with the familiar Hobbesian rationale. But I digress…)I disagree. It would be MORE difficult for a corporation to have its way when it is dealing face to face with those who will be living with it. Rather than go to the Supreme Court to have local jurisdictions overridden, they would have to deal directly with said jurisdictions. Your fear is that the people of secessionist Vermont will find it’s an offer they can’t refuse? I find that dubious. They’ve already shown that WANT to refuse it, and by being forced to stay in the leviathan union their wishes are not being respected. Again, let’s make a deal: support their secession, seeing as they want it, and let THEM deal with the ramifications of YOUR worries.—I recently had this conversation with some Quebecois separatists. i think it’s, honestly, rather Naive to assume Quebec would become anything other than a colder Guam. They’d enact a worker’s rights policy and corporations would simply send their money to a place that didn’t. Not to mention the fact that they’d probably be attacked by the US government.—Let THEM make that choice.By your logic one could also say that secessionsist movements worldwide, feeling as they do oppressed by states that don’t have their interests in mind, ought to remain in as large a political body as possible because if they don’t, corporations will take them over. (As if the Chechens find corporations to be their main worry, and not Russia.) I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but corporations very much dislike remote and/or autonomous regions of the world, wherein no easily dealt with central government exists to allow them carte blanche activity over the country.—You needn’t be a Keynsian to see it. State intervention has always destroyed free markets, and even in theory it seems clear that they’d destroy themselves. Environmentally, for one.—I disagree. The Soviet Union was highly centralized and it was far more a disaster for the environment than the US. So the idea that free markets leads to environmental degradation is incorrect, or at least incomplete. Much of the problem with environmental destruction stems from a lack of, or incomplete property rights (whether this be individual or communal), not property rights themselves.My revisionist reading of history (the non-high school textbook stuff) informs me that free markets were not destroying themselves, but were deliberately squashed by (mostly) business interests that sought protection and monopoly privelege from the state. Marxist historian Gabriel Kolko is excellent on this point.—Keynes’ big contribution was to advoacte social spending instead of government hand-outs to the rich. For that he had to be hung, sure.—Sorry to inform you, but Keynes was essentially an economic fascist (in the John T. Flynn sense). Social spending? Fascist. Mussolini and Hitler engaged in massive make-work schemes (autobahn, national parks, swamp draining, etc…) There is an excellent new book called The Three New Deals documenting just how similar FDR, Mussolini and Hitler really were, written by a German journalist. Even the old “fireside chat” was eerily reminiscent of the Fuhrer’s radio addresses. Both the right and left simply HATE this comparison, as FDR was supposedly either out for the “common man” (save for the Japanese and those drafted) – the left’s version – or FDR represented a nostalgic period wherein people gave to their country by being patriotic and kickin’ foreign ass – the right’s version.Keynes ushered in endless deficit spending (“we owe it to ourselves”), which is the reason for the fact that people who aren’t even born yet will be burdened with massive debt. Thanks.Social spending? The New Deal and Keyne’s program were de facto handouts to politically connected businesses that had a hand in bridge building and other such pet projects. But of course I don’t see any government spending as truly “social spending” either, but rather spending on certain individuals within the government apparatus. To the extent that this trickles down to others, that’s just a good way of keeping people in line. In fact, social spending has most increased during times of radical upheavel – the 30s and the 60s – in an effort to keep the masses in line. And going back to secession. Which do you think a state prefers, buying off a group of secessionists who threaten to take their tax revenue with them (as well as the structural integrity of the “greatest nation on earth”), or allowing them to leave, in which case they can’t oversee them quite so well?

  17. >We basically disasgree about the power of VOICE as compared to EXIT.No offense, but I’m not crazy about reframing things this way. For one thing anyone who wants to read this (and you never know, there may be some) would have to unpack the concepts. This would be fine except the concepts are unnecessary in part because they are so simple and can be expressed more directly, and partly because they obfuscate the issue. Is “voice” superior to “exit”? That’s a question that’s impossible to answer in the abstract of course, but is that even a serious dichotomy? I don’t think so. More below. My point is that, with exit not being an option (and no, leaving the country is not a justified reccomendation, as the state and its defenders have no right asking “its” citizens to leave)Yes, but you see the state isn’t “asking” you to leave- you are voluntarily doing it. A corporation shouldn’t have the right to sexually harass you eitherthe question is, what’s the best mechanism to ensure that your rights aren’t impinged upon. – and even if one buys into this coerced democracy – the cost of exit is higher when compared with the private sector. It’s lobbying Washington vs. simply abstaining from buying products you dislike.All kinds of problems with this:A. It assumes that your problems in a “free” market are limited to “products you dislike.” What if you don’t like profiteering? What if you don’t believe in private property? What if you don’t believe in wage slavery? I would guess that “products you dislike” are rather low on the list of concerns.B. It counts on all viable options being available privately and perhaps more importantly that you have all of the necessary information to make an informed choice. This is a HUGE externality problem as it thrusts a tremendous information cost on the consumer. To radically oversimplify things, suppose you had three widgets of varying prices. One product was made by slave labor but was environmentally sound, the other was made here but polluted, and the third was “ethically made” but the most expensive. What are the serious costs of acquiring that knowledge about every single product around and weighing the utility against your purchasing power, etc.? Inconceivable!C. The cost of “exiting” your career is nearly as problematic as “exiting” your country. You’re free to do both if someone else will take you and if you’re willing to bear the tremendous costs of the switch. Saying something MUST be “publicly” funded is simply a rationale for monopolists. (Electricity is one obvious example.)”Must” may be too strong a word as it implies prescriptive judgment. It’s almost certainly the case though.But redistribution IS stealing from Peter to pay Paul.As I said though, reclaiming stolen wealth isn’t stealing. (And again, most welfare in this country is from the middle class to the middle class.)I have no idea what you mean here, and I strongly doubt this is true if defined properly. Even if it was true though, why shouldn’t we simply try and change this for the better? I suppose if one believes that income is simply a privelege granted by the state, then saying that it’s “robbery” probably doesn’t fly. Of course I diasagree.Woah, income isn’t a privilege granted by the state. The current distribution of wealth is a “privilege” granted by the oppressed though. A cursory look at the history of property is enough to show that the current distribution of wealth is theft, theft, and more theft. I’m not seriously saying we need to move back to europe, but we should speak humbly about matters such as our current distribution of wealth. Allowing people (including us) to keep our current property is a non-principled solution and so accordingly we needn’t justify redistribution using any first principles beyond moral truisms (like ensuring the UN declaration of human rights.)Well, looking at the largely positive response many in the so called “third world” have to being given land titles, I’m not so sure.The question isn’t “would you rather own your house” it’s “would you rather own your house but lose the barebones support structure that’s keeping food in your children’s’ mouths and keeping your community (barely) afloat? The third world isn’t applicable unless there’s a comparable welfare state.start a radio station because they don’t have the proper permit from the FCC. (Why the hell is there an FCC anyway?)I agree. But ask yourself where highways came from and containerization and cheap textiles and hi-technology and cheap oil. Imagine if Wal-Mart didn’t accept massive direct government handouts (right now it does) could it say it doesn’t benefit from state intervention and operates in the free market? Not a chance!I saw an advertisement for the Navy before a movie recently, and the whole thing was a showcase for the “social uplift” and “grassroots projects” they are apparently engaged in. Right.Tell me about it. We’ll “uplift” you out of your neighborhood to a place where you have an even higher probability of being killed!Even the Peace Corp is nothing more than an arm of “liberal imperailism” (for which you could include so called “humanitarian aid” and forced sterilization.)From what I’ve sen of this, that’s correct. Do you have any online sources where I could follow this question up? I know that the peace corps was conceived with such an aim. There are private alternatives that are far better, but I should say that I’m deeply unpersuaded by the “cultural autonomy” arguments against the peace corps. Public Works projects abroad have largely been a mess, beset by corruption, bad design and the politicization of development.Eh, kind of true kind of not. Certainly no more a mess than the current alternative- Military Spending.Just as with SS, there is a “transition” cost to ending the global US prseence, but you seem to want to try to replace with it something first, rather than simply end it.I’m not sure I agree with this- I don’t know of many cases in which the US is doing more good than harm internationally. Even redirecting aid would be important.Tell me if I have this right: Taxes are not theft, but the lack of stronger distribution from the rich to the poor IS theft?Taxes are theft, to a degree. Our current distribution of property is theft, and setting such property right sin stone is the legalization and legitimization of theft. Unless we make a robust social compromise which includes serious safety net provisions and practical redistribution along with it. Even in that case I fail to see why we should have anything stronger than use rights. We probably disasgree here; I don’t think that by simply BEING rich, one has necessarily stolen from somebody else. You’d have to look at HOW that money was procured. Subsidies? Protectionism?It’s not a matter of simply “being rich”- it’s the actual history of our property. Of course, I think that even Wilt Chamberlain has obligations. However my argument is rooted in the actual histories, yes. Socializing costs onto others is the cheapest way for the rich to get there way. If Halliburton had to pay for the war itself, it wouldn’t have been so eager to go to Iraq.We agree.I don’t believe that the US is in fact responsive to democratic pressures (nice options at presidential election time eh?),Whether it’s presently representative is a separate question from whether it’s actually shapeable. From US history we know that’s the government is significantly shapeable to our interests, if not entirely. We agree on the current lack of choices but you also have to consider the lack of serious united organization in this country (compared to SNCC in the 60s and 70s or labor in the 30s when serious changes were enacted.) And even when it IS responsive to democratic pressures, I don’t see this as necessarily a positive, as it’s simply a coalition of certain interest groups lording it over everyone else.Sounds good in theory, but in practice that’s far from true. The activist groups that achieved serious freedom of speech (which didn’t really happen until the latter half of the 20th century when the sedition laws were struck down) didn’t seek it for themselves only. SNCC was a civil-rights group that was anti-war, labor was in favor of international solidarity. In fact the only solely self-interested group to have achieves significant power in recent times have been corporations, selfish by definition.As for Fascist structures, I wouldn’t confuse Corporations with Corporatism. Corporations are outgrowths of the state, whereas Fascism (Corporatism) is a FORM of statism.But the structure of corporations are themselves totalitarian, and at times fascist. Change the name of the CEO to “Secretary-General”, “Board of Directors” to “the politburo” and “stockholders” to “the party” and you have a perfect representation of totalitarianism. Are you serious? FEMA was engaged in turning back loads of civil society support, including fisherman from nearby states who were attempting to provide suppoprt. Groups like the Common Grounds Collective, the Black Panthers and various religious organiztions were running circles around the ineffectual and actually destructive FEMA.I think you misunderstood my point- it wasn’t that there were profiles in courage or not. There were plenty. The problem is that they weren’t sufficient (not for lack of trying.) Anyway, we can take a better example of the Tsunami or something if you like.Again, coercion can’t effectively deal with people who are not willing to good things voluntarily. Not sure if that’s true, but coercion itself is an evil, of course. Changing structures and contexts changes our behaviors for all kinds fo reasons, coercion being one. That is, if some joe blow who goes to work for FEMA wasn’t the type to help people on his own BEFORE a disaster, he won’t be trustworthy DURING it. That’s an overly simplistic model of how institutions work. The story of our modern society is the victory of the self-serving institution over the good impluses and decent will of the population at large. We know how the public felt about Katrina and the Tsunami- we were horrified and outraged.So becuase of this fear, those parents who would rather be able to choose where the child goes, and get the funding-per-child directly are SOL because rich people will ALSO have that option, and divest from schools?I would choose to send my kid to private school too. The choices aren’t limited to what you suggest- improving public schools is also an option, because there plenty of places in which public schools work well. You can’t generalize about what wouldn’t happen with vouchers based on the current system- depending on what kind of regulations were in place you might well see horrifying results. If money somehow correlated with better performace, which it doesn’t (look at large urban school districts as well as global superiority in education vis a vis the US), then this MIGHT make some sense.One needs to take a larger view- money may not correlate to performance (though money’s still a problem) directly in schools. But one you consider impoverished communities it’s quite a bit different. Then I have little doubt that money correlates to performance. I’d disagree that corporations are any more secretive than governments, looking at it historcially.Again, we have a problem of generalization. We can’t take matters and simplify them to “voice vs. exit”- why not just consider the questions themselves? Are coroporations more secretive than governments? Not sure why we’d look at this historically , since we should be comparing our consitutional republic to corporations, and of course I think corporations are demonstrably far more secretive. Just looking at the structure (see my illustration above, about stockholders=party) one would assume that corporations would rival the USSR in secrecy. And, when one disregards government insistence, you find that it’s true. But again, if I’m suspicious of a corporation, I can simply withdraw my funds.But why did you have your funds there in the first place? Do you work there? Was it the best investment? So there’s an (often serious) cost associated with with “simply” withdrawing your funds. How much did it cost for you to find out the information and weigh it against the alternatives? Is there another corporation offering anything significantly better with a rate of return (or wages) that’s worth the switch? Wouldn’t you rather just keep making money and go watch the television?Common mistake: to think it’s “free”. Now of course it isn’t, as any funds that go to this educational monopoly are procured by expropriating wealth.It’s free for the kids, largely. You’re correct though that it has a cost.State schools were formed to a) get a young population ready for the workforce in an increasinly industrial society and b) mold immigrants to a particular “American” way of life.This is all true, and this is what I like about you left-libs. Again, I see this as an argument for serious change and I don’t see any argument for markets even providing such a thing, much less a better one. State schooling is also compuslory, which hardly seems “decent”. I myself would have loved to have been released from that prison called high school.The compulsory aspect is debatable, but I think it’s ultimately persuasive because parent’s should have dictatorial rights over their kids either. It’s an imperfect situation. Incidentally, I don’t think school is compulsory past 16- at least not where I lived.Well, I guess you answered my question. Of course I’m not for letting the elderly starve, but nobody, not even the elderly, have any right to the stolen goods of others.Interesting phrasing. See, this is where we sort of agre. My whole claim is that if you take this logic to it’s natural conclusions, you wind up with serious problems. Namely that you don’t have a right to anything that you own because it was all stolen. So, since I’m sure we’ll agree that justice isn’t served by giving all the land back to the natives then we should start talking about practical justice. The claim of the old person to his right not to starve to death is no longer out-weighed by theft problems because we agree now that we’re making practical, just, decision about how to distribute our stolen property (i.e. we’ll largely keep the current distribution, even though it’s all stolen.) And again, the elderly are on average wealthier than the young, thus to defend SS is to defend redistribution from poor to rich.But then you have questions of the capable vs. the non-capable. On this logic one might argue that a starving Sudanese is actually richer than you are because he doesn’t have 20k in student loan debt.Social Security is basically founded on a philosophical error. (Not to mention founded undemocratically and by a coalition of business and state interests in 1935.)yeah, SS was largely a victory for working people’s movement. I’m probably as skeptical of government victories as you are, but the only real business victory in SS was keeping the tax from being progressive. I’m happy to check out a source if you’ve got one though. Basically it amounts to “Yes, it’s for your benefit, but you have no say in the matter.” Huh? Given that well- being is subjective, how can someone other than myself claim to know what is best for me?It was less about paternalism and more about aid. We were responding to the needs of the elderly and poor who were being very vocal about their “subjective needs and wants.” In so doing it was MORE fair to make such a guarantee to everyone.SO basically it was instituted to help everybody, yet nobdody in particular.My disabled uncle (and countless others) would disagree strongly that it helps “nobody in particular.” And even if the US could succesfully gain access to indigenous societies, the political dimensions of US aid would still be strong on the US side of the equation.Actually, the best aid is spent helping the indigenous movements, as it should be. It’s not nearly as hard as you suspect. Find the Kenyan volunteers running a Refugee camp and fund them. It’s hard to miss a giant refugee camp (to pick one example), and the most successful of them (even though they were still sorely lacking funds) were run largely by native people in cooperation with other volunteers and organizations (including the UN.) For instance, the government agency USAID has strings attached to its dispersal of money; the anti-malaria chemical DDT is not to be used by any group that is a recipient of USAID’s “help”.Please don’t assume I’m claiming that there aren’t SERIOUS problems with the current methods of aid giving. Most “aid” is directly correlated to human rights abuses in fact- that doesn’t mean that aid is bad. Think Julius Nyerre’s Ujama, or “villigization” scheme of the 70s, aided and abbetted by the infamous Robert McNamara.If you think that the World Bank (Bretton Woods-era) is an example of a would-be “do-gooder” than we have serious disagreements in deed.Non-corporate elements have also had a hand in preventing indigenous farmers from using GMseeds. We agree here.My point is that neo-liberalism is not the only negative element affecting the well-being and livelihoods of people here and abroad.but it’s pretty god-damned substantial. I disagree. It would be MORE difficult for a corporation to have its way when it is dealing face to face with those who will be living with it.But it’s the very threat of of not-living with it that’s often under discussion. Furthermore, corporations act nothing like humans- Joel Baken makes the excellent point that Coporations behave (and are legally required to behave) like sociopaths. Rather than go to the Supreme Court to have local jurisdictions overridden, they would have to deal directly with said jurisdictions.Or simply go to another one which will be friendly. This almost sounds like exit vs. voice in reverse.They’ve already shown that WANT to refuse it, and by being forced to stay in the leviathan union their wishes are not being respected. Again, let’s make a deal: support their secession, seeing as they want it, and let THEM deal with the ramifications of YOUR worries.Wait a second- I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to secede, only that it’s stupid. And make no mistake, it is. They can opt to be more pro-labor than the US and receive no investment capital and find themselves unable to fund the programs they’d like or they can try and attract investment. If I lived in under such a situation I could easily imagine myself advocating huge handouts and labor flexibility to attract corporations even though I’m steadfastly against both in principle. The ability to act on one’s principles is a luxury that hindered not only by the state but also by the power of corporations, remember.Let THEM make that choice.Hey, who’s saying they shouldn’t? By your logic one could also say that secessionsist movements worldwide, feeling as they do oppressed by states that don’t have their interests in mind, ought to remain in as large a political body as possible because if they don’t, corporations will take them over.I happen to generally think that’s true, absent overriding factors. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but corporations very much dislike remote and/or autonomous regions of the world, wherein no easily dealt with central government exists to allow them carte blanche activity over the country.exactly.I disagree. The Soviet Union was highly centralized and it was far more a disaster for the environment than the US.I doubt you’re comparing like with like here. The soviet union was industrializing in the 20th century whereas the US was not. Even so, the environmemtal protections in the US have been hard-won, and I would draw a perfect correlative line between the horrible unaccountable soviet state and the horrible unaccountable corporate structures. Much of the problem with environmental destruction stems from a lack of, or incomplete property rights (whether this be individual or communal), not property rights themselves.I think this is a bad joke. For one thing, should we have right to sell out future generations for a buck? Our particular decisions about how much we’re being paid to allow the river that we “own” to be polluted isn’t reflective of the true costs. I mean, you’re going to advocate letting some random rich guy buy the Nile river and let him make decisions about the level of pollution in it at his whim? And you think you OPPOSE paternalism? Marxist historian Gabriel Kolko is excellent on this point.We even read the same historian! Is he a marxist though? He just wrote “after socialism.” There have been few examples of free markets to say the least. Having a look at the Indian Steel industry when it was “competing” with British subsidized steel (while Britain was forcefully preventing tariffs while erecting plenty of its own) is instructive. The idea that the markets self-destruct seems evident just in theory though- market pressures largely don’t allow for long-term thinking (consider development, for instance which flies in the face of the theory of comparative advantage.) As Chomsky is fond of saying, If New England had followed it’s comparative advantage it would still be exporting fish and fur, except that the rivers would now be devoid of fish from overfishing.Social spending? Fascist. Mussolini and Hitler engaged in massive make-work schemes (autobahn, national parks, swamp draining, etc…) There is an excellent new book called The Three New Deals documenting just how similar FDR, Mussolini and Hitler really were, written by a German journalist. Oh this is just nonsense. The fact that Hitler had to appeal to popular sentiment in order to preserve power required the welfare state. You might just as easily prove that vegetarianism is fascist simply because Hitler was a vegetarian. I have plenty of problems with Keynes but his support of social spending isn’t one of them.Even the old “fireside chat” was eerily reminiscent of the Fuhrer’s radio addresses. Both the right and left simply HATE this comparison,He was fond of Mussolini at first also, as was nearly every corporation in existence. Texaco was run by an outright nazi and corporations were investing heavily because of the favorable conditions. There is some validity to the point (though not too much) but you’re far better served using points more substantive than the implication that they used similar methods of propaganda. Hitler, incidentally, very consciously modeled his propaganda on the western system which he felt was superior and was a part of why Germany lost WWI. In that light it’s not overly surprising that he would behave similarly in some respects. Keynes ushered in endless deficit spending (“we owe it to ourselves”), which is the reason for the fact that people who aren’t even born yet will be burdened with massive debt. Thanks.It’s also the reason we had sustained growth at double the rate of the period since Keynesian programs were overturned (1973.) In fact, social spending has most increased during times of radical upheavel – the 30s and the 60s – in an effort to keep the masses in line.I think you’ve got this backwards- people demand social spending (a cursory look at the polls will show you that.) Doesn’t it seem far more likely that the popular movements are being appeased?

  18. >Let me add something, we’ve restricted our discussion largely to divesting in a corporation because of their actions toward you. For instance, a corporation that doesn’t provide you with enough information can be divested from in favor of one that does. I still stand by the by assessments above about the myriad difficulties and qualifications of such a switch, but I’d like to broaden the point a bit. Let’s take Coke, for instance, and Coke’s abysmal human rights record in Colombia. They’ve murdered terrorized and blackmailed to get what they want, and as a Coke shareholder (or employee, or whatever) I’m appalled. “So”, a Libertarian tells me, “Just don’t invest in them anymore.” Well okay, I feel a little better about not supporting a murderer (again, assuming I even found out, which isn’t at all obvious) but my problem isn’t the integrity of my investment- my problem is the god-damn murder!Well there are plenty of differences between the problem faced in that circumstance and the one we face now in Iraq (having to do with the difference between a commodity purchase vs. a vote, for one thing) but assume that it’s the same. Assume that all of a sudden the Colombia murders come to light and people start 100% voting with their dollars, so money spent on Coke means only that you support Coke’s political actions and vice versa. This is clearly ridiculous, but bear with me. Well in this case we have a textbook plutocracy. The people with more money have more “votes” in the system and we would expect controllable “political” actions to conform, broadly, to the interests of the rich of society (as they do now.) So, at best, we’ll get a plutocracy for the important issues.

  19. >—Is “voice” superior to “exit”? That’s a question that’s impossible to answer in the abstract of course, but is that even a serious dichotomy? I don’t think so.—Well, as far as I’m concerned exit is always superior to voice because in fact it IS voice taken to to the most effective and radical place – the ability to opt out of a community, scheme or plan entirely, placing the group objective on the most consensual, voluntary foundations.I think the concept is worthwhile because it outlines the differing levels of efficacy as to one’s ability to show preference. 1 voice among 150 million or so voting adults in a situation in which the outcome will be forced among winners and losers alike vs. 1 person with the ability to opt out of voting altogether (exit). The market represents the latter. Another problem with our overblown nation-state democracy is the problem of aggregation. Voting for a president with a “package deal” including measures on defense, education and healthcare wherein you may only care for the education plan. Yet this “all or nothing” dilemma is your only option. In the non-political world (the market), we can have different levels of each of these suited to our own tastes.—Yes, but you see the state isn’t “asking” you to leave- you are voluntarily doing it. A corporation shouldn’t have the right to sexually harass you eitherthe question is, what’s the best mechanism to ensure that your rights aren’t impinged upon.—If I say I don’t want to be subject to the state’s illegitimate law making power, attempt to resist its laws and find myself under the threat of imprisonment, my leaving at that point is difficult to accept as “voluntary” any more than refugees fleeing a crisis zone is “voluntary”. (Yes, they are very different in degree of seriousness, I know.)Best mechanism to ensure rights? EXIT.—What if you don’t like profiteering? What if you don’t believe in private property? What if you don’t believe in wage slavery? I would guess that “products you dislike” are rather low on the list of concerns.—These sound like other-oriented obsessions that no system could remedy. You mean what one doesn’t like OTHER people profiteering? Anywhere in the world? Well that can’t be helped because it’s going to happen. Anyone who has ever sold something for more than they bought it for has “profiteered”. You may as well say that people who don’t like “spiritual pollution” and “depression” will not be made happy by ending the political means to wealth (as opposed to the economic, in the Oppenheimer sense). As for private property, anyone who claims to dislike it is engaged in a performative contradiction, as their very ability to argue shows they value private property in their own body.—To radically oversimplify things, suppose you had three widgets of varying prices. One product was made by slave labor but was environmentally sound, the other was made here but polluted, and the third was “ethically made” but the most expensive. What are the serious costs of acquiring that knowledge about every single product around and weighing the utility against your purchasing power, etc.? Inconceivable!—Even here, if you are unsure, you can simply avoid the purchase. But who is to stop you from researching? Lobbying Washington to raise the minimum wage or protect steel jobs in Pennsylvania have implications too. As an aside, I think if we ended subsidies to sea transport and ended LLC – ah, I’ve told you all this – anyway, that would help decrease exploitation by foreign firms. Coupled with land distribution.—The cost of “exiting” your career is nearly as problematic as “exiting” your country. You’re free to do both if someone else will take you and if you’re willing to bear the tremendous costs of the switch.—Probably not even nearly as problematic as out and out leaving the country, much less leaving the binding-upon-all state laws, democratic or not, that are handed down en masse year after year. (The very laws, I submit, that make it more difficult to be self employed.) Leaving your job might have a high cost, but disobeying the god-state’s laws (especially the one that demands tribute) will cost you even more dearly I promise. —Saying something MUST be “publicly” funded is simply a rationale for monopolists. (Electricity is one obvious example.)”Must” may be too strong a word as it implies prescriptive judgment. It’s almost certainly the case though.—Actually history doesn’t bear this out. There WEREN’T monopolies before the state granted them. With electricity, the state, in return for guarantees of free electricity for hospitals, the military, etc. grants monopoly status. PG&E for instance. The concept of “natural monopoly” entered textbooks after these un-natural monopolies were granted the privilege. Tom DiLorenzo has done excellent research on this.—I have no idea what you mean here [middle class-middle class welfare], and I strongly doubt this is true if defined properly. Even if it was true though, why shouldn’t we simply try and change this for the better?—If one realizes that welfare “for the poor” first passes through the hands of salaried, middle class professional members of the new class before it trickles down, then yes, welfare is by and pretty much FOR the middle class. Social Security, Medicaid, college loan money, subsidized loans for first time home buyers, the budgets of the alphabet soup of agencies. It all amounts to middle class welfare. Some leftists will tell you that it must be this way because the vast middle class would never go for the welfare state if it didn’t give them their cut too – and they’re right. What we have, then, is what Bastiat called the “great fiction” whereby everyone lives off of everyone else.(As an aside, I worked for a few months for the Department of Agriculture in Sacramento, CA. My job was to call people in rural areas and see if they still had the same number of pigs, chickens and donkeys from the year before. They hated getting this awful call from the beauracracy. In fact I quit. It’s VERY difficult to get fired from a state job by the way, a local “inside joke” as it were. Anyway, THIS IS THE WELFARE STATE.)—Woah, income isn’t a privilege granted by the state. The current distribution of wealth is a “privilege” granted by the oppressed though. A cursory look at the history of property is enough to show that the current distribution of wealth is theft, theft, and more theft. I’m not seriously saying we need to move back to europe, but we should speak humbly about matters such as our current distribution of wealth. Allowing people (including us) to keep our current property is a non-principled solution and so accordingly we needn’t justify redistribution using any first principles beyond moral truisms (like ensuring the UN declaration of human rights.)—Granted by the oppressed? Huh. I agree with the middle part. And allowing people to keep whatever they currently have is indeed non-principled, just a defense of the status quo. Nobody deserves to be tortured, killed, exiled, etc. To the extent the UN DHR says this, I’m on board. But doesn’t it also talk about some “right to leisure” or something like that. I’d rather have the ability to negotiate that on my own. As an organization the UN is nothing to me. It’s a coalition of ruling states and whatever interest groups manage to influence it. It is hardly representative of “the people”, unless those people are George Clooney and Dick Cheney, or everyone in between. They authorized the US-Ethiopian coup to invade Somalia and are right now sticking their noses in Sri Lanka to the chagrin of the Sinhalese nationalists there.—The question isn’t “would you rather own your house” it’s “would you rather own your house but lose the barebones support structure that’s keeping food in your children’s’ mouths and keeping your community (barely) afloat? The third world isn’t applicable unless there’s a comparable welfare state.—But if you own your house, you no longer are stuck with “barebones” support. You’ve now got capital and resources. Most people have more integrity, imagination and ability than the absolutely quadrapalegic person you are conjuring up, 100% dependent on a state to run their lives. Most people imagine the very notion of “community empowerment” to mean taking control of – and that means ownership of – the local resources. That’s what that community garden in South Central LA was/is all about. (The one with Daryl Hannah in the tree recently…)—But ask yourself where highways came from and containerization and cheap textiles and hi-technology and cheap oil. Imagine if Wal-Mart didn’t accept massive direct government handouts (right now it does) could it say it doesn’t benefit from state intervention and operates in the free market? Not a chance!—The federal Highway system was an Eisenhower project fueled by Cold War considerations of population density. Paid for out of the pockets of people trying to feed their families, i.e. taxes. We agree. That’s why I say end government > end Wal-Mart.—From what I’ve sen of this, that’s correct. Do you have any online sources where I could follow this question up? I know that the peace corps was conceived with such an aim. There are private alternatives that are far better, but I should say that I’m deeply unpersuaded by the “cultural autonomy” arguments against the peace corps.—I don’t know of any online sources. Yea the Peace Corps was a Kennedy administration scheme to help better understand the world and, well, help combat communism on the softer front of winning hearts and minds. Kind of a goodwill effort to attract the “positive neutralists” over to our side. Even putting aside cultural autonomy, top down plans about how to aid others abroad seem to never take into consideration local knowledge and custom.—Public Works projects abroad have largely been a mess, beset by corruption, bad design and the politicization of development.Eh, kind of true kind of not. Certainly no more a mess than the current alternative- Military Spending.—Mostly. There’s even a name for these projects: “White Elephants”. Expensive and impractical showcases. Even theoretically “good” foreign aid directed public works like libraries have been shoddily constructed. I recall reading an example of this in sub-Saharan Africa in The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. And of course you know that I wouldn’t frame the choice as one of foreign aid public works VS. the military. Scrap em’ both.Foreign aid is still a solution favoring US government money being spent on foreigners. The democratic pressures you talk about will demand that this money favor certain exporters or personnel from a certain state department as well as “ideological” goals that conform to whatever consensus exists on what constitutes “efficiency” and/or “human rights”. That is, organized interests will want to see the money used in a certain way, and will expend scarce resources that do or do not belong to them to make sure of it. This is inevitable. Unlike civil society donations (tithing, zakat) or remittances, which aren’t subject to these political/democratic pressures.—Our current distribution of property is theft, and setting such property rights in stone is the legalization and legitimization of theft. Unless we make a robust social compromise which includes serious safety net provisions and practical redistribution along with it. Even in that case I fail to see why we should have anything stronger than use rights.—Current distribution thievery, yes. Nobody should have anything stronger than use rights? Really. Well for all intents and purposes that’s just what property really is, the ability to express a range of control over a given resource. Can you elaborate on what you mean? Sort of a use-it-or-lose it scheme?One of the most cogent criticisms I’ve read of state democracy is that precisely because nobody DOES own the property they control during their democratic tenure, they abuse it. It’s why we’ve seen the draft, huge deficits (make the next guy pay) and abuse of the public office. The logic of a limited time in office leads to the rewarding of friends and the punishing of enemies, all with resources that nobody owns, but the privileged – a revolving group of people – control. It’s like the bathroom at the gym meets politics.But of course Monarchy is no solution either.—From US history we know that’s the government is significantly shapeable to our interests, if not entirely. We agree on the current lack of choices but you also have to consider the lack of serious united organization in this country (compared to SNCC in the 60s and 70s or labor in the 30s when serious changes were enacted.)—No doubt this is true. When the state’s very existence is threatened, it can find it useful to succumb to public anger. To the extent that these pressures are the result of a powerful, encroaching state (draft riots, Jim Crow laws), then all the more reason to abolish the state and end another front on which to have to fight. I guess I see some of these changes enacted as a way of buying off the anger of the populace. Like I said, easier to acquiesce than to allow total self determination (anarchy and separatism the state has been far less tolerant of.)—The activist groups that achieved serious freedom of speech (which didn’t really happen until the latter half of the 20th century when the sedition laws were struck down) didn’t seek it for themselves only. SNCC was a civil-rights group that was anti-war, labor was in favor of international solidarity. In fact the only solely self-interested group to have achieves significant power in recent times have been corporations, selfish by definition.—No need for striking down federal sedition laws if one hadn’t agitated for a strong central government in the first place, but anyway. True, not all political action is an attempt to screw over your neighbors. You make a good point.Corporations may be selfish by definition, but if you think for a minute that these “public spirited” tyrants who occupy city hall or not selfish, you are sorely mistaken. People who work in the government are some of the most narcissistic, ugly people around. I used to be one. I guarantee they are interested in an easy paycheck first and foremost. And unfortunately if they are truly ideological it’s often even worse, as they get off on the power the public office gives them. Do you truly believe that cops, for instance, are truly faithful to their motto, “to serve and protect”?—I think you misunderstood my point- it wasn’t that there were profiles in courage or not. There were plenty. The problem is that they weren’t sufficient (not for lack of trying.) Anyway, we can take a better example of the Tsunami or something if you like.—I think you miss MY point. They weren’t sufficient because they were stifled by an organization that is supposedly there to make up for insufficient grassroots action – the state. The state crowds us out. Can you believe that the National Guard actually wasted its/our time going door to door to make sure that little old ladies who’d rather stick it out in their homes were successfully removed. (The dreaded mandatory evacuation.) Who the hell are these jack booted thugs anyway? The question answers itself. Why this kind of thing gets not a scintilla of outrage on the left perplexes me. Then again, as you’ve said, “coercion is necessary”. Isn’t that what evil corporations believe?—The story of our modern society is the victory of the self-serving institution over the good impluses and decent will of the population at large.—Yea, it’s called the state.—The choices aren’t limited to what you suggest- improving public schools is also an option, because there plenty of places in which public schools work well. You can’t generalize about what wouldn’t happen with vouchers based on the current system- depending on what kind of regulations were in place you might well see horrifying results.—Improving public schools has built-in difficulties. I’d rather abolish a monopoly than “improve” it. First giant step toward improving – make enrollment voluntary and end compulsory schooling. Suddenly it would have to SERVE people who CHOOSE to attend or not, like any other decent relationship between strangers, it would be based on contract (and no, not the dubious “social contract” which is neither social nor contractual…but rather mystical).No more schooling as a way for the state to track the progress of its good little citizens. Heck, in that case lets end the Census, Birth Certificates, Drivers Licenses and of course Social Security. All tracking devices. You have no idea how important these things can be for leviathan the next time a bogus terrorist attack or public health problem arises and people need to be rounded up (FDR’s internment), quarantined or what have you.I’m actually not a big fan of vouchers as it has been one excellent way for the state to regulate independent schools too, if and when they are the recipient of vouchers. I’m a fan of unschooling myself. Come on, let’s be radical here.—Then I have little doubt that money correlates to performance.—If this were even remotely true. Apart from well outfitted laboratories in higher education, extremely little can be spent on a classroom and it’s amazing what can be done. There’s a reason poor primary schools from India run circles around US school kids in international competition. And it isn’t because they have a computer for every bright eyed little one. In what category do US kids always outperform? Self Esteem. Of course.—Incidentally, I don’t think school is compulsory past 16- at least not where I lived.—For everyone pissed off, alienated young man bored out of his mind listening to some drab teacher drone on, it’s bad enough.—The claim of the old person to his right not to starve to death is no longer out-weighed by theft problems because we agree now that we’re making practical, just, decision about how to distribute our stolen property (i.e. we’ll largely keep the current distribution, even though it’s all stolen.)— Here’s an idea you and I might both get our heads around. How about liquidating all the assets of Boeing and giving the money to the current generation of elderly? Then all those working young people, many of whom are trying to raise families of their own, can pocket their current SS “contribution”. Unfortunately I don’t think Boeing could come even close to covering it. Lockheed Martin too, eh? (Or is that sill Boeing?)—But then you have questions of the capable vs. the non-capable. On this logic one might argue that a starving Sudanese is actually richer than you are because he doesn’t have 20k in student loan debt.—Well the young certainly have more unpaid loans than the old. The old have assets, wealth bound up in homes and other such things. I’m afraid your point only strengthens mine.—SS was largely a victory for working people’s movement. I’m probably as skeptical of government victories as you are, but the only real business victory in SS was keeping the tax from being progressive. I’m happy to check out a source if you’ve got one though.—The problem with so many “victories” claiming to represent this or that group is that it neglects the fact that members of said group are not monolithic. How can a “victory” that compels a workingman to fork over a portion of his earnings be considered any such thing. At the time there were scattered revolts against it, as some employees, aligning with their employers, refused to take part. But now we’ve all grown up with it and consider as inevitable as death and…Rothbard on SS’s origins below. Apart from this, the Iron Chancellor Bismarck of Prussian fame is actually acknowledged at the Social Security webpage. Centralizers and interventionists were fond of the German system ‘round the turn of the century.http://www.mises.org/story/2225#7—It was less about paternalism and more about aid. We were responding to the needs of the elderly and poor who were being very vocal about their “subjective needs and wants.” In so doing it was MORE fair to make such a guarantee to everyone.—Absolutely not. I’m afraid this is what Kevin Carson refers to as liberal “goo goo” history. Proof of the paternalism is that although it is meant to help those subjected plan for their retirement, if they would rather THEIR OWN WAY, they ARE NOT ALLOWED. Paternalism, plain and simple. This was shown recently with the case of this guy in his 30s who wanted to borrow against his eventual SS money. I don’t remember the details (maybe I read about in Wired?), but he wanted to basically sell his SS earnings for a good deal of money in the present. The state wouldn’t allow it.When the state responds to any given group with “subjective needs and wants”, it is necessarily only responding to the actual members of the given group who are actually agitating. Why should others be subjected to THEIR subjective needs and wants?I’m afraid I don’t have this romantic view of state democracy.—Actually, the best aid is spent helping the indigenous movements, as it should be. It’s not nearly as hard as you suspect. Find the Kenyan volunteers running a Refugee camp and fund them. It’s hard to miss a giant refugee camp (to pick one example), and the most successful of them (even though they were still sorely lacking funds) were run largely by native people in cooperation with other volunteers and organizations (including the UN.)—There is no reason why this shouldn’t be done voluntarily. Again, the state can’t create wealth, so without it hijacking voluntary coordination of relief, the impetus and resources would still be there. The UN is not a popular organization, as much as liberal imperialists wish that it were. The people of Somalia, to use a recent example, are as suspicious of it as they are of the US. Besides, most foreign aid takes place amid more mundane environments than a refugee camp. The “Third World” is not constantly in crises so explicit. —If you think that the World Bank (Bretton Woods-era) is an example of a would-be “do-gooder” than we have serious disagreements in deed.—The World Bank, for whom you could include Keynes as one of its founders, is often defended by liberal imperialists, of the left and right. The Arthur Schlesinger Jr. types. I will hereby note that you are not a fan, though I didn’t assume you were.—Rather than go to the Supreme Court to have local jurisdictions overridden, they would have to deal directly with said jurisdictions.Or simply go to another one which will be friendly. This almost sounds like exit vs. voice in reverse.—Sure, they can go to another that will be friendly (but not if we help abolish the legal protections that make them dangerous at the federal level first), but it’s a lot easier dealing with them all one-on-one than simply going to the central government. Too chaotic. They don’t like that.As for exit vs. voice, it would be easier for the inhabitants of a jurisdiction to move out of one if their neighbors decide to allow a corporation in. As it stands, the entire country is wide open to Wal-Mart. And remember, for each state or region that secedes, that’s’ less tax revenue with which to distribute to corporations, helping to atrophy their power.—Wait a second- I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to secede, only that it’s stupid. And make no mistake, it is.—Well they disagree, and I agree with them. How can direct democracy require anything less than extreme decentralization? The idea of local control has a strong resonance with people. Many think the people in D.C. are far too out of touch, both physically and politically. But in any case, as long as you would support their right to try something stupid, we are on the same page. Amen, brother!—By your logic one could also say that secessionsist movements worldwide, feeling as they do oppressed by states that don’t have their interests in mind, ought to remain in as large a political body as possible because if they don’t, corporations will take them over.I happen to generally think that’s true, absent overriding factors.—Well, forgive them if they find that to be a rather lesser concern on their totem pole of priorities. They fear massive states with soldiers and the power of coercion, not Nike. But I would counsel them to fear making friends with the US, who has a history of fostering or aiding independence movements while harboring ulterior motives (Panama circa 1900?).—Much of the problem with environmental destruction stems from a lack of, or incomplete property rights (whether this be individual or communal), not property rights themselves.I think this is a bad joke. For one thing, should we have right to sell out future generations for a buck? Our particular decisions about how much we’re being paid to allow the river that we “own” to be polluted isn’t reflective of the true costs. I mean, you’re going to advocate letting some random rich guy buy the Nile river and let him make decisions about the level of pollution in it at his whim? And you think you OPPOSE paternalism?—Not at all. “Sell out future generations for a buck” is nothing more than clichéd language posturing as an argument. Ownership entails a concern for the future condition of a given resource, as its potential condition will reflect its market value in the present. Polluted rivers used to be dealt with through tort law, as the aggrieved parties down river could sue those polluting it from a distance. That is property rights in action, not unconditional spoliation, which comes from a lack of ownership. As for some rich guy buying the Nile, any understanding of how property can come to be legitimately owned realizes this example as ridiculous. It’s highly unlikely one single guy could actually homestead the entire length of the river. As it stands, the state of Egypt should relinquish ownership and hand it over to the millions of people who live along its banks. Property damage resulting from pollution could be dealt with in a common law fashion among neighbors.The state has proven to be a poor steward of the environment, as only the near term is taken into account (see above about the incentives facing state actors with a finite amount of time to exploit the resource under their control). It either creates tragedies of the commons or prevents their rectification. In Africa over the past decade, wild game has seen an increase in population precisely in areas where the locals have been given ownership rights over them. Zimbabwe is one example, where the program CAMPFIRE (an acronym, for what I forgot) has been successful in keeping the elephant population stable. —As Chomsky is fond of saying, If New England had followed it’s comparative advantage it would still be exporting fish and fur, except that the rivers would now be devoid of fish from overfishing.—Chomsky is a first rate intellect and historian of US imperialism, but his economics is faulty. He has admitted that he doesn’t much even like economics and frankly ignores it: http://www.lewrockwell.com/wall/wall26.html (scroll down to the part on Chomsky’s economics).—Even the old “fireside chat” was eerily reminiscent of the Fuhrer’s radio addresses. Both the right and left simply HATE this comparison.He was fond of Mussolini at first also, as was nearly every corporation in existence. Texaco was run by an outright nazi and corporations were investing heavily because of the favorable conditions. There is some validity to the point (though not too much) but you’re far better served using points more substantive than the implication that they used similar methods of propaganda. Hitler, incidentally, very consciously modeled his propaganda on the western system which he felt was superior and was a part of why Germany lost WWI. In that light it’s not overly surprising that he would behave similarly in some respects.—It was more than propaganda, as I pointed out in the previous post. The massive public works projects, the social spending (there’s also another new book out on the German Welfare state called Hitler’s Beneficiaries, documenting the way Hitler bought off the allegiance of the German people), and the patriotic appeals to Nationalism via the Blue Eagle Campaign (all “good” businesses participate by affixing a big blue eagle banner over their shop to show they are compliant). It’s all there.—I think you’ve got this backwards- people demand social spending (a cursory look at the polls will show you that.) Doesn’t it seem far more likely that the popular movements are being appeased.—Well, I think most people become easily conditioned. With SS for instance, the population consistently opposed it, even for some time after it was forced on them. They were also against entry into our World Wars, but eventually came around (especially after Pearl Harbor, provoked by US actions, yet most people didn’t comprehend that). If you ask them if “government is too big”, they say yes. If you ask them if they want to preserve social spending, they say “yes”. I think if people understood that the government must first take FROM them before it can give TO them, there would be a change of opinion. I can’t really disagree with what you say. Yes, popular movements are appeased, but that doesn’t mean that the ruling class doesn’t find a way to make the appeasement in its interest. Most people simply want something from the government, and this is more easily dealt with than the desire to be out of its control completely. THOSE movements are always crushed, and amazingly the sheeple often go along with it.

  20. >Another thing on foreign aid.Given that the recent lame-ass Democratic War Spending Bill came with a “rider” approving millions for domestic agri-business welfare, I have no doubt that something similar could happen in reverse. That is, a foreign aid bill, ostensibly to help “civil society” in Kenya (in actuality the political class, like usual), being approved with a “rider” mandating certain provisions to the military. Seemingly unrelated right? Never that simple, and a constant problem in our representative state democracy wherein people routinely spend money that isn’t theirs, padding the pockets of the politically priveleged. Sneaky stuff, and a strong case for direct democracy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s