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Mynnion
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This weeks entry is Rand Paul. This Tea Party darling sports a fine head of hair and looks young for his 50+ years.

Paul is staunchly conservative with strong libertarian streak. It is refreshing to see a GOP candidate who opposes going to was every time some dictator rattles his saber. I have to admit be totally disgusted with his response to the measles vaccine. He made the comment that he had heard from lots of parents that told him their child had been mentally effected by the vaccine. While the statement is probably true it promotes the false impression that he believes that vaccines are unsafe. As a physician I would have hoped he would have offered leadership rather than politics.

What do you like and/or dislike about Paul. Will he win you heart and vote or will you wait for a more attractive option to present him/herself?

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Fenring
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Not every person believes the exact same things I believe. I like many people who have divergent ideas from me. But at least Rand Paul seems to be a person. Most politicians do not operate as persons, but rather as political machines who churn out statements that are most likely to create positive results. Anyone who is willing to criticize his own party and just say what he really thinks is already above the rest in my book. That, coupled with his anti-war (but not pacifist) belief, would already be enough for me to say I think he's the only candidate worth anything. I agree strongly with some of his other beliefs, and disagree strongly with some, but that doesn't matter. I'd rather have a good person I disagree with in power rather than a political robot who doesn't speak for himself.
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Wayward Son
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While beliefs may differ, policy is something important to consider. A President with a policy of appeasing our enemies can have a significant negative impact on our country. A President that denies the possibility of AGW can have a significant negative impact on future generations worldwide.

Fortunately, we have a pretty good ideas of the policies that Rand Paul endorses from his yearly budget proposals.

From these we see that he proposes a flat tax, severely cutting the budgets or eliminating a host of departments, eliminating housing subsidies and K-12 education subsidies, eliminating Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, slashing foreign aid to all countries (including Israel), and severely cutting defense spending.

While some of these policies look like good ideas, I fear that they would be detrimental to our nation in the long run (if not the short run [Smile] ).

Of course, he does seem to change his mind on a number of social issues (from an admittedly biased source), so no one can say exactly what he would do as President. [Smile]

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Fenring
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Just remember that a President doesn't 'make legislation', although he can push the Congress towards certain goals he has.

That being said, I'd take the risk of some policies I don't like against thousands of fewer deaths from war any day [Smile]

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Seneca
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I don't agree with everything he says but I admire his value for personal freedom. We really need a president who will end the surveillance state and take us back to Constitutional government.
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Mynnion
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I think it will be interesting to see how much difference we see in the primary candidate from the presidential candidate. Paul has some very conservative ideas that a segment of the GOP will support but many of those will actually chase the moderates and independents away. If he maintains his ultra conservative stances he may gain my respect but certainly not my vote.
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Wayward Son
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Regarding his chances, at the moment it doesn't look good. Per the linked article, he's been moving away from his father's strong Libertarian positions in the past year--becoming more pro-intervention, less anti-foreign-aid--to become more mainstream Republican. This has disenchanted some of his Libertarian base.

Right now, he's one of the top contenders considered both too conservative and too liberal. [Smile]

He's definitely has an uphill battle.

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KidTokyo
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I want to like Rand. I liked his dad more -- but one has to question how philosophically consistent someone is who is a devout Christian (Ron) who names his son (Rand) after the most militant atheist in modern history, some one who considered Christianity evil. Conservative Randites manage to overlook that little detail, and I really have to question whether such people are truly rational or just reactionary.

Anyway, I like Paul Junior's stance on government overreach, but he is already too much a creature of the party machine to accomplish anything in that regard. People had the same hopes for Reagan & look how that turned out.

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Fenring
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Rand was against Christianity as a system of sacrificial social economics. She was a full libertarian and viewed the idea of sacrificing someone for someone else as evil. The fact of the matter is that she didn't understand jack about Christianity and was in effect just talking about corrupt economic and political values. A true libertarian will more or less be in line with that, and there is no contradiction for someone to be both a libertarian and a Christian. From what I've read, they named him after Ayn due to her economic values anyhow, and not due to her antipathy towards religion/state manipulation of people.

Also Reagan (not that I am an admirer of his) was one of the few Presidents in semi-recent history who seemed to speak his mind about things and who didn't always 'go with the flow' like the last few Presidents have done. He definitely took a stand on some issues, while obviously proving to be less than a role model in other regards.

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KidTokyo
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Fenring,

My point about Reagan was only that he was, in the early days, regarded favorably by Libertarians in much the same way Rand Paul is now, but Reagan did zilch to halt the growth of the federal government -- his administration in fact aided its growth in key areas.

Importantly, this has been the trend for the last 120 years. Every "libertarian" and/or laissez-fair movement has either been instigated or co-opted to promote federal growth. This is easy to understand given that the biggest corporations require a strong federal government to service their needs.

Rand never once called herself a libertarian and most Objectivists actively disavow the label as well, on the basis that "unprincipled" pluralistic freedom would be a disaster. People really cherry-pick with Rand. She was a gradualist when it came to shrinking government and was much more favorable to federal power and its use of force than any Libertarian.

She was a very maximalist minarchist. This is clear to me as I've read virtually all her non-fiction works. Back when I was an Objectivist. 20 years ago.

I got better. [Smile]

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Fenring
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Gotcha about Reagan. As for Rand she was obviously a libertarian (Wikipedia defines minarchism as a type of libertarianism) even if she didn't call herself one. Heck, she rarely called herself anything, and when asked would just say that everything she believes is in her novels. Her organisation was Objectivism but I don't recall her ever even saying "I am an Objectivist."

In the sense that a libertarian President probably doesn't have the power to change much by himself, this would be an argument in favor of not worrying too much about a few of Rand Paul's values that may seem questionable. The President can't just make policies however he likes. That most so-called libertarian Presidents don't end up reducing government's power is mostly a result of the President not being a tyrant's position. It would be nice to have a libertarian President, but that doesn't magically mean he'll reform the whole country. Ideally if he embraces leadership as opposed to responding to polling data then he might get a few things done that are his own.

What a President can do, however, is to operate the agencies he does theoretically have control over, including the military and intelligence communities, according to his conscience. In this respect I'd say Rand's anti-war and pro-liberty views might well stand a chance of mattering more in terms of what he could really do with the position than would his beliefs on banking, abortion, and so forth, which are matters for the Congress to deliberate.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Also Reagan (not that I am an admirer of his) was one of the few Presidents in semi-recent history who seemed to speak his mind about things and who didn't always 'go with the flow' like the last few Presidents have done.
Not sure whether you are right or wrong about Reagan speaking his mind more than other Presidents (you might be right but it's hard to tell because our personal feelings about Presidents may cloud our judgements on this question, mine included).

With respect to not "going with the flow", I think that might be more measurable. We could look at which Presidents appeared to shape (and re-shape) their message the most with respect to the most recent polling (Bill Clinton strikes me as having done this the most of the past Presidents of the past 50 years, oddly enough George W Bush and Barack Obama the least, with Reagan somewhere in the middle). With respect to initiating policies despite an understanding of the political challenges that it would cause, I'd say LBJ ranks highest with the Civil Rights legislation.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
What a President can do, however, is to operate the agencies he does theoretically have control over, including the military and intelligence communities, according to his conscience. In this respect I'd say Rand's anti-war and pro-liberty views might well stand a chance of mattering more in terms of what he could really do with the position than would his beliefs on banking, abortion, and so forth, which are matters for the Congress to deliberate.
The problem, and the irony, is that big business is the primary instigator of the growth of state power. So when a pro-business, anti-government administration comes into office, what you get amounts to corporate administrators serving their clients, i.e., Finance and Industry, by passing new "de"-regulations to further client needs. "Free Market Capitalism" as corporate rule is called in practice actually requires extensive government support, and big business wouldn't want it any other way.

If Paul is really going to push a libertarian agenda, he needs to run on legislation that would outright remove government support for corporate monopoly or duopoly and break up the banks into a thousand smaller parts, completely ending any government insurance for them, etc.

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Fenring
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In a way breaking up banks, and systems like the anti-trust laws, are a move towards government interference, not away from it. It is effectively a type of regulation and a hard-and-fast libertarian wouldn't like it (Ayn Rand, for example, thought the anti-trust laws were evil). To be anti-big government doesn't automatically mean being anti-big business as well. But right now a lot of how business reap rewards from government include favorable tax status, and favorable contracts, both of which intersect with the office of the President (especially in regard to military spending and how that spending is reflected in real military use).

One could, for example, do nothing to harm big corporations, while at the same time easing off of helping them, and this would still have the effect of disentangling the relationship they currently enjoy with the government.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
To be anti-big government doesn't automatically mean being anti-big business as well.
I think that the presumption should be the opposite. In some areas, the interests of businesses are in direct conflict with the interests of the population at large as represented by government (pollution is one such example). In a world where money can (a) buy political influence, and (b) political influence can affect the profitability of big business, it is a natural implication of a market system that big business will invest in political power where it brings an adequate return on investment. These investments will be everything from contributions to political campaigns and Super-PACs all the way to buying media outlets and promulgating favorable propaganda.
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Fenring
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Greg, I was referring to values, not mechanics. Mechanically business and government will tend to entwine. But a person's belief in small government is completely orthogonal to his beliefs regarding how businesses in society should be treated. It might be true, for instance, that complete de-regulation of business would be harmful to the population at large, but philosophically that doesn't mean that a libertarian wishing de-regulation is necessarily "pro-big business." He may simply be against interference in private transactions.

Mechanically I think it's trivially obvious that a 'totally libertarian' position would result in corporations going haywire in various ways, but also recall that at present the ability for corporations to utilize political power has largely been facilitated by past legislation that in itself is market interference designed to make corporations more influential than they would naturally be. An example of this is what is called corporate personhood; another example in the financial sector is the Federal Reserve system that backs banks up at public expense. Advantages like these (in addition to tax benefits) act to promote corporate ownership of politics just as much as if de-regulation took place. Just a different kind of mayhem.

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TomDavidson
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A totally libertarian position would eliminate the limited liability concept at the heart of incorporation. Which is why most so-called libertarians are not in fact all that libertarian.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
A totally libertarian position would eliminate the limited liability concept at the heart of incorporation. Which is why most so-called libertarians are not in fact all that libertarian.

I guess I agree to an extent. I think there's room for being a libertarian but not an extremist. Limited liability seems to certainly entail being pro-big business insofar as it encourages growth of large industry. Then again without it people could become indebted forever as a result of a business disaster and never be able to go into business again. The idea of this sort of debt slavery (which we have now anyhow in different forms) would seem to be at odds with the value of freedom to be both act and to suffer the consequences of acting. In other words, I think there is inherently a dilemma in any marketplace where either you need to reduce freedom a little in order to make some laws, or else by not doing so freedom will be threatened a different way, and so one must choose one's poison.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Then again without it people could become indebted forever as a result of a business disaster and never be able to go into business again.
Isn't the recovery for bankruptcy for normal people seven years? What would make business disasters extend forever? (I really don't know the answer - is there some nuance I am missing?)
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KidTokyo
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quote:
In a way breaking up banks, and systems like the anti-trust laws, are a move towards government interference, not away from it. It is effectively a type of regulation and a hard-and-fast libertarian wouldn't like it (Ayn Rand, for example, thought the anti-trust laws were evil).
No, although I'm not sure Rand fully understood the nuts and bolts of corporate law, which I one of the biggest issues I have with her and Objectivism.

Following on the point made by Tom, corporations are by definition impossible to create without a greater regulatory body which can enforce contracts -- this is true even in a stateless anarcho-capitalist system (and Rand was definitely not an anarchist). You have corporation, you have government. You have big corporations, you have big government. It an inescapable axiom proven repeatedly by history. I know of no exceptions.

Rand may have been right about anti-trust laws, which have always been applied with great selectivity and inconsistency. In a laissez-faire system, such laws may not be necessary. for instance, at the dawn of the automobile there were literally hundreds of car-makers, many of them quite innovative and successful, and many serving regional needs. They didn't disappear because of the free-market's "invisible" hand. They disappeared because of federal laws bought and paid for by the finance industry which enabled rapid mergers and acquisitions -- this destroyed competition and innovation and create the huge, inefficient, creatively stagnant industries we live with today. Because such behemoths are beholden to the stock market, they are driven by short term fiduciary responsibilities (which are legal obligations) rather than long-term plans. One reason Japanese and some European corporations innovate more is because they can plan better in the long term -- and at least in the case of Japan this is because corporations there are not legally bound to stockholders exclusively, but rather to "stakeholders" as in a non-profit.

Point, being, breaking up big companies today would mean breaking up government-created entities, not private businesses. The end result would be much less government involvement in business.

[ April 12, 2015, 06:16 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Fenring
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And what if the invisible hand led inevitably towards monopoly or olichary anyhow? I guess you'd have to break them up in that case, which is equivalent to just saying that the government is going to have to interfere in the market one way or another. I believe this is exactly the case. While corporations as we know them require government to exist, business monopolies do not.

If we divert from the limited liability issue (which has to do with business risk but is only tangentially relevant to the issue of oligopoly) and from the legal definition of a corporation, and instead just talk about "companies", you'd have all the same problems we have now anyhow.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
And what if the invisible hand led inevitably towards monopoly or olichary anyhow?
Honestly, I use the term a bit tongue-in-cheek. Adam Smith is widely misunderstood. His "invisible hand" metaphor was never used by him to argue for unregulated free markets, and at one point is used in an argument against free trade across national borders. But in a world where Christians describe themselves as Rand devotees, I suppose I should not be surprised. [Wink]

As to your point here:

quote:
While corporations as we know them require government to exist, business monopolies do not.

If we divert from the limited liability issue (which has to do with business risk but is only tangentially relevant to the issue of oligopoly) and from the legal definition of a corporation, and instead just talk about "companies", you'd have all the same problems we have now anyhow.

I completely disagree with all of this. In fact, I challenge you to produce even one single historical example of a "monopoly" that was accomplished by a private business and without the aid of any government support (which includes the use of a corporate charter).

Limited liability is not "tangentially relevant." It enables a company to grow in size by orders of magnitude beyond what is possible without it (to this there are only possibly a few notable exceptions, but even the exceptions will prove the rule, as they often are formed with corporate money from elsewhere). Meaning, limited liability allows a company to become 100, 1000, 10,000 times larger and wealthier than would otherwise be possible.

[ April 12, 2015, 10:08 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Fenring
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One can't discuss businesses without government because such an animal has never existed. There have been businesses before without being corporations, and some of them were very powerful. In such cases in history we'll likely find that most of them also had ties to force, for example the mafia, the Medicis, or any major bankers for that matter. History shows that certain factions acquire fantastic power without needing helpful legislation specifically like that which created corporations. But they definitely had either government ties or force to back them up. So one way or another the use of force was always entwined with big business throughout history. I'm just saying that corporate law, specifically, is not the culprit behind this phenomenon as such. It does, however, facilitate the growth of big business in a new way, and since law is just the use of force this in effect mirrors the trend of large companies developing their power at the edge of a sword.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
One can't discuss businesses without government because such an animal has never existed. There have been businesses before without being corporations, and some of them were very powerful. In such cases in history we'll likely find that most of them also had ties to force, for example the mafia, the Medicis, or any major bankers for that matter. History shows that certain factions acquire fantastic power without needing helpful legislation specifically like that which created corporations. But they definitely had either government ties or force to back them up. So one way or another the use of force was always entwined with big business throughout history.
Yes, I agree. [Smile]

quote:
I'm just saying that corporate law, specifically, is not the culprit behind this phenomenon as such. It does, however, facilitate the growth of big business in a new way, and since law is just the use of force this in effect mirrors the trend of large companies developing their power at the edge of a sword.
Oh, I wouldn't say it's the culprit either. Corporations are useful tools. But I insist that breaking up big businesses into smaller ones at this point in history is defensible even on libertarian principles properly construed, and that historical evidence also suggests that the effect of such measures is almost invariably positive -- wealth is re-distributed, competition increases, consumers have more choices, innovation accelerates. Dangers persists, but any eventual coercive economic force will be more easily dealt with.

Limited liability may only be a difference of degree, not kind, but it is a very big degree indeed.

I would also encourage employee ownership through tax policy, to really make the changes stick. There is no reason we cannot re-define "fiduciary duties" accordingly.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
But I insist that breaking up big businesses into smaller ones at this point in history is defensible even on libertarian principles properly construed, and that historical evidence also suggests that the effect of such measures is almost invariably positive -- wealth is re-distributed, competition increases, consumers have more choices, innovation accelerates. Dangers persists, but any eventual coercive economic force will be more easily dealt with.

Human nature tells us people who are free to act as they wish will tend to form partnerships/gangs in order to become more powerful, and will use either force or leverage to corner a market if they can. If one person can legally own all 'competitors' in a given market then it will literally be impossible to compete with him. If the major competitors in a market mutually agree to stick within certain bounds but to all pounce on newcomers then the market will remain closed. Such alliances are 'illegal' but inevitable, and even such illegality is a form of government intervention. It would be worse otherwise.

Example: There are three newspapers in town. Mine is twice as successful as the others, and eventually I accrue capital equal to the equity of one of the others. I buy it. With the combined income of both I quickly acquire the third also. Nothing here is amiss, illegal (unless we make the same person owning two newspapers illegal by fiat), or a result of government intervention. The natural forces of the market all but guarantee that it will happen eventually since one competitor always does better than the others, and when money can be leveraged for further advantage the result will always be a financial empire.

It may be good populist politics to break up such things, and such a move may even lubricate the market as well. I can't see a libertarian principle backing this up, though, since all we'd be saying is that no one has the right to become an empire unto himself through his own effort. This is the opposite of libertarian principles, even though we also recognize that having a person with an empire at his command will result in loss of freedom in other ways.

As I said above, you must choose your poison. I don't think 'being a libertarian' means there is an easy answer to this, unless one wants to question the basic economic system itself and be a libertarian in another kind of system (anarcho-etc etc).

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Human nature tells us people who are free to act as they wish will tend to form partnerships/gangs in order to become more powerful, and will use either force or leverage to corner a market if they can. If one person can legally own all 'competitors' in a given market then it will literally be impossible to compete with him. If the major competitors in a market mutually agree to stick within certain bounds but to all pounce on newcomers then the market will remain closed. Such alliances are 'illegal' but inevitable, and even such illegality is a form of government intervention. It would be worse otherwise.
Obviously, that's true. I don't think you're rebutting anything I said, are you?

quote:
It may be good populist politics to break up such things, and such a move may even lubricate the market as well. I can't see a libertarian principle backing this up, though, since all we'd be saying is that no one has the right to become an empire unto himself through his own effort.
No one becomes an empire "through their own effort." It does not happen, has never happened. That is my point, unless you include in "effort" coercion, the use of force, and/or government support, and a libertarian should demand not only that a government not act against liberty but also correct its own wrongdoing. Incidentally, "breaking up the companies" could mean nothing more than ceasing to approve mergers and acquisitions through the DoJ, ending bailouts, and allowing transparency and democratic oversight of "free trade" agreements -- in the long term many larger companies would have to break up. A change in fiduciary laws and charter law could also have that affect, without increasing govt "interference" at all. But in my view a libertarian should never tolerate an "empire" of any kind.

[ April 13, 2015, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Fenring
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If we agree that capital leverages creation of more capital, I don't see how it's not inevitable that a financial empire will tend to arise every now and then. It's one thing to say that most empires (colloquial use) arise due to use of force or government. It's another to say that such a thing cannot arise without these. Do you have any basis for such a claim?

Because if a financial empire can arise on its own two feet then a libertarian would have to tolerate it unless he was willing to say that a man's right to accrue wealth is not unlimited. It becomes a question of public utility rather than principles at that point, unless in the name of the principle of 'freedom' you'll allow anything at all.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
It's one thing to say that most empires (colloquial use) arise due to use of force or government. It's another to say that such a thing cannot arise without these. Do you have any basis for such a claim?
Because, where there isn't an external governing entity that at lest theoretically has the power to enable or check them as it chooses, they are, de facto that governing authority. This is especially true if you're talking in terms of financial accumulation as well as control of capital (Remember- no matter how much the financial industry lies and tries to tell people otherwise to create support for bad legislation that feeds it profits, the "capital" referenced in "capitalism" is _nonfinancial_ assets that are used, but not consumed in the production process. Factories, labor, education, patents- those are all capital. Money is not capital, and treating it like it is leads to pathological failures of capitalism, as people make investments that generate more money at the expense of creating real wealth and capital)

At even the most basic level, in order for financial wealth to exists, you have to have a government that issues and taxes currency in such a way as to at least implicitly allow private interests to monopolize it. Without that, then financial wealth is a reflection of the fact that the company itself is the primary issuer of credit and directly controls the money that it amasses, which, again, represents a degree of economic control that makes it the de facto government.

The most fundamental flaw in the Libertarian position is the delusion that you can create a power vacuum and trust it to maintain itself. The size of a government will always be directly proportional to the size of the population it governs. The only way to have a small government is to have a small population. If you have a large population, than your government is going ot be large,t he only question is how much of it you reserve democratic control over, and how much you leave up for bidding on by private, plutocratic actors.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
If we agree that capital leverages creation of more capital, I don't see how it's not inevitable that a financial empire will tend to arise every now and then. It's one thing to say that most empires (colloquial use) arise due to use of force or government. It's another to say that such a thing cannot arise without these. Do you have any basis for such a claim?
I'm not really making a statement about inevitability. I'm saying that such a thing, to my knowledge, has never arisen without government and/or force, which is pretty good evidence that they cannot. Furthermore, I don't even see how it could be possible even in theory. I would submit that the reason, for instance, that the U.S. govt and state govts from the very early days developed IP and land patents, explored and mapped the western territories, subsidized railroads, and chartered municipal corporations was precisely a result of the prevailing view among the class of wealth managers that only by such means could the kind of economic control they desired be accomplished. That a similar patterns can be found in the history of every other mixed market democracy provides even stronger support for this view.

Looking at any specific financial empire -- a governmental authority is always involved. At some point you have put aside what you imagine might be possible and examine what actually happens.

quote:
Because if a financial empire can arise on its own two feet then a libertarian would have to tolerate it unless he was willing to say that a man's right to accrue wealth is not unlimited.
You'll need to explain what you mean by "empire" in this context, since any use of the word I know describes an entity with the power to exert top-down control over others. I suppose someone who makes kajillions by selling the best sofas in the world can be said to have a "sofa empire," but that's not really the kind of empire anyone cares about as long as other people are free to make and sell other sofas and compete fairly in an unrestricted sofa market. If you imagine a sofa empire that takes the next step of eliminating unwanted competition to corner the market -- how would they do it, without resorting to government or some other form of organized coercion? Though, before even answering that question, I'd like to know by what mechanism a private sofa-making business got that big in the first place to even consider such measures.

[ April 13, 2015, 11:32 AM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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KidTokyo
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I'd like to highlight a couple of points Pyr made:

quote:
Factories, labor, education, patents- those are all capital. Money is not capital, and treating it like it is leads to pathological failures of capitalism, as people make investments that generate more money at the expense of creating real wealth and capital)
This is a great illustration of why "free-markets" and "capitalism" are fully separable concepts.

quote:
The most fundamental flaw in the Libertarian position is the delusion that you can create a power vacuum and trust it to maintain itself.
I partly agree. However, the power vacuum can be filled by democracy and employee-ownership. I'm imagining a syndicalist scheme (sans "anarcho-" for the time being) in a constitutional framework.
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NobleHunter
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Historically, didn't any sufficiently successful business either co-opt or become subordinate to government? There's a certain jealousy of power at work, especially since, prior to fiat currency, governments were always hungry for revenue. Anyone successful enough to impose monopoly prices would eventually be forced to surrender their profits to the government or become the government themselves.

It's only with modern ideology and economics that businesses have been sufficiently protected from government that they can accrue profits unmolested. Not that it stops them from trying to co-opt government whenever they can; too much risk of the government acting against business interests in other ways.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
It's only with modern ideology and economics that businesses have been sufficiently protected from government that they can accrue profits unmolested.
"Sufficiently protected" does not even enter into it. They are first and foremost the clients of the government, with wide leeway to demand new and better services. They government is an integral part of how they function -- they know this and want this. Without the government they would have to negotiate or procure their own regulatory systems from a market of such providers, which would reduce business efficiency for many of them (though arguably others would benefit). Large businesses routinely do this now when resolving international contractual disputes.

Without such regimes, you would be playing baseball on one side and football on the other.

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NobleHunter
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If you're lucky, you play football on one side and soccer on the other.
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Fenring
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Pyr: You are right that capital and wealth are not identical terms. However, having large amounts of either can serve to leverage greater earning, and especially wealth if it's handled correctly. I don't think government is needed to issue currency; people will always develop a currency even without central issuance. Whether a money supply is generated artificially or organically, it is possible either way for someone to accumulate so much of the desired commodity that they will effectively be fief-lords. I think you were saying something similar to this, and if you want to call that 'government' then fine. We can certainly define government as 'whoever has control of the most money', but that's not the way I was using the term previously (and not the way we expect the term to be used in casual parlance).

Kid: 'Financial empire' is a term colloquially used now to refer to a person or group that controls a large amount of both wealth and wealth-generating infrastructure (the latter being the more relevant for the term to matter). It has nothing to do with top-down law by fiat. In answer to your question about how such an empire can eliminate unwanted competition, there are many ways which include buying them out, running a price war (which few newcomers could survive), making special exclusive agreements with vendors and suppliers to not do business with the newcomers, to form industry societies with approved members and to not easily allow anyone to join, and so forth. There are many ways such as this which in no way utilize government help or violence. Some methods may be made illegal, but then we're back to government having to regulate the market and the pure libertarian position is thwarted again. I'm just saying that I think it's unfair to hold a libertarian to the standard where he's supposed to believe in zero financial laws, since I think that a financial system cannot exist in a 'free society' without them.

Noble: I agree with you that government seems generally to be jealous of business, not its friend, with the proviso that (like the mafia) if you're the government's special buddy then you'll be treated really well and get special favors, but not otherwise. However the difficulty in a democracy is to disentangle government as ruling body from government as the mechanism by which the people govern themselves. At present the U.S. government is both, and these two functions often act at cross-purposes with each other and especially so in the economic sphere. 'Government the ruler' can't be trusted, but 'government as voice of the people' is the thing which protects business earnings. The libertarian position is that the 'government as ruler' should be absolutely minimized and should mostly (or entirely) act simply as 'government as voice of the people.' Historically it seems that since government was mostly just a ruler we can use the historical record as a reminder of what any government will do when not forced to remain the voice of the people to a large extent.

[ April 13, 2015, 12:42 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you imagine a sofa empire that takes the next step of eliminating unwanted competition to corner the market -- how would they do it, without resorting to government or some other form of organized coercion?
Sofas that monitor conversations in the houses in which they're placed and then arrange the assassinations (via constriction) of anyone who discusses selling their own sofas. But are still so comfortable that people buy them. [Smile]
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NobleHunter
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quote:
Noble: I agree with you that government seems generally to be jealous of business, not its friend, with the proviso that (like the mafia) if you're the government's special buddy then you'll be treated really well and get special favors, but not otherwise. However the difficulty in a democracy is to disentangle government as ruling body from government as the mechanism by which the people govern themselves. At present the U.S. government is both, and these two functions often act at cross-purposes with each other and especially so in the economic sphere. 'Government the ruler' can't be trusted, but 'government as voice of the people' is the thing which protects business earnings. The libertarian position is that the 'government as ruler' should be absolutely minimized and should mostly (or entirely) act simply as 'government as voice of the people.' Historically it seems that since government was mostly just a ruler we can use the historical record as a reminder of what any government will do when not forced to remain the voice of the people to a large extent.
The goverment as voice only protects earnings until the people decide otherwise. There's a reason the US has made a habit of toppling overly populist regimes. Government as ruler refrains from nationalization because of economics (either smart enough not to kill the goose or because fiat currency makes such disruption less necessary); government as voice refrains due to ideology, the people not otherwise being known for resisting the mantra of "want, take, have."
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KidTokyo
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quote:
Kid: 'Financial empire' is a term colloquially used now to refer to a person or group that controls a large amount of both wealth and wealth-generating infrastructure (the latter being the more relevant for the term to matter). It has nothing to do with top-down law by fiat. In answer to your question about how such an empire can eliminate unwanted competition, there are many ways which include buying them out, running a price war (which few newcomers could survive), making special exclusive agreements with vendors and suppliers to not do business with the newcomers, to form industry societies with approved members and to not easily allow anyone to join, and so forth. There are many ways such as this which in no way utilize government help or violence. Some methods may be made illegal, but then we're back to government having to regulate the market and the pure libertarian position is thwarted again.
Any merger or acquisition is a contractual arrangement which is enforced by govt, or it is nothing. If one corporation buys another, the level of govt involvement is much higher -- the govt's role is to ensure not just the legality of the arrangement but contractual consistency, to hold the parties to their terms. The parties would not enter into such a deal with any true legal binding -- there is no benefit. If you look at the 19th century, large companies were buying out state-charted companies that were often state-enforced regional monopolies, i.e., a state-sanctioned concentration of wealth. Again, I ask for an example of one big company that accomplished the scenario you describe without substantial govt facility or thuggery. I simply haven't met the animal yet.

quote:
I'm just saying that I think it's unfair to hold a libertarian to the standard where he's supposed to believe in zero financial laws, since I think that a financial system cannot exist in a 'free society' without them.
I'm saying the same thing. And so, if we agree that there must be some laws, shouldn't the libertarian favor the option where govt remains the smallest, and interferes the least? Larger companies are vastly more expensive to regulate than smaller ones. Small companies more easily end up paying for their own wrongdoing, requiring less government regulation. All the govt has to do is to stop facilitating hugeness, and smaller companies can act more freely within certain unambiguous bright lines rather than navigate thousands of pages of postmodernist micromanagerial "regulations" written largely by the regulated.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
Sofas that monitor conversations in the houses in which they're placed and then arrange the assassinations (via constriction) of anyone who discusses selling their own sofas. But are still so comfortable that people buy them. [Smile]
I can see the ad campaign now...."What's in YOUR sofa?"
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I partly agree. However, the power vacuum can be filled by democracy and employee-ownership.
Sure- I would count that as a form of democratically controlled government. Public government can take many forms- the trade-off I was talking about occurs when public government forgoes asserting democratic control of regulatory power, thus, implicitly, letting whoever has the most money and influence effectively buy out the monopoly on such. Nominal self determination as would be implicit in your suggestion would only actually function so long as some public entity worked to enforced it and prevent situations where exercises of private power/monopoly would effectively eliminate any real choices in action from other individuals groups.

If a market is not regulated to to prevent and punish dishonesty and to give people a recourse to prevent coercion, it will always collapse in favor of the most dishonest and coercive players. The conflations of "free market" and "unregulated market" is, in ad of itself, a lie created and sold to encourage just such collapse and monopolistic capture.

There's a difference between a government using it's powers coercively as a player in the market, effectively for its own profit, or in service to the profit interests of some small subset of the population, which is generally a bad and disruptive action, and the government exercising its power as a referee, who has no interest in winning or losing the game, just in ensuring that all participants are free to play at will and succeed or fail on their own merits, rather than being at the mercy of other private powers that control segments of it thourgh monopoly or other coercive behaviors that all companies are forced to turn to to survive in the absence of active effort to counteract the natural advantage that dishonest and anti-competitive behavior creates.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
You are right that capital and wealth are not identical terms.
Capital is a form of wealth. Wealth also includes consumable and non-productive assets. You hit similar trouble, though if you confuse and try to legally and economically treat financial reserves as equivalent to wealth, because, once again, you short circuit the production of actual things of value in favor of amassing financial assets instead or very often at the expense of productive endeavors.

quote:
I don't think government is needed to issue currency; people will always develop a currency even without central issuance.
That's not quite coherent- if people are using a common currency, then there is a central issuer- the entity whose credit makes that currency worth more as a marker of account that the material that it's stamped on. Any currency whose value as a credit marker drops below its material trade value ceases to be useful as currency and generally represents a recognition the collapse of the utility of the credit of accounts with its issuer.

quote:
Whether a money supply is generated artificially or organically, it is possible either way for someone to accumulate so much of the desired commodity that they will effectively be fief-lords.
Vice versa- certain materials become used for currency because of the need to transact with a monopoly holder of that material, such that their promises for future supplies of that material become tradable markers. That's why many forms of currency originated with religious temples. There's no monopoly like the control of priests over spiritual absolution, and this no material worth more than the markers that promise it when you give them back to the priests that issue them.

quote:
I think you were saying something similar to this, and if you want to call that 'government' then fine. We can certainly define government as 'whoever has control of the most money', but that's not the way I was using the term previously (and not the way we expect the term to be used in casual parlance).
Not necessarily "the most" but rather "whoever controls the issuance of currency" becomes a de facto government, because of the powers that inherently come with being able to generate (and validate) tradable credit at will.

Someone else may claim to be the government, but if they have to bow down to your demands to be able to access the resources they need to operate, then you're the one pulling the strings, not them.

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