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Comment: Re:let me correct that for you. (Score 1) 604

by bigpat (#47508117) Attached to: Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Nonsense. Read your Marx. Communism and Socialism don't even remotely resemble one another. The only reason people get them confused is that Communism, as defined by Marx, was the ideal human goal and has never actually existed.

Yes go read Marx. Marx described a transition to communism in which there would be a dictatorship of the proletariat... which in effect is still a dictatorship. So, technically you are correct in that the end-goal of communism was an idealistic society based on free-will and free-participation, but in order to get to that promised land Marx also described what was in effect a brutal transition period where force would be used in order to level the playing field and bring production up to levels that would eliminate scarcity. Laudable end goals in some respects, but terrible means which did in effect play out in countries claiming to be communist... countries which ended up stagnating in what was supposed to be the transition state of repressive dictatorship because they never got past scarcity of resources and because it is human nature for some people to want to hang on to power over others when they are given that power. Giving communism a pass simply by saying that the end goals justify the means is not realistic. Maybe those countries weren't in an end-state communist society, but some of them were at least initially following the Marx playbook for a transition to one.

In other threads I have been arguing along those lines in defense of libertarianism, which if implemented gradually and as something to be striven for in degree and not absolute or immediate, then I argue that moving towards libertarianism can lead to a more prosperous and freer society.

But communism doesn't call for a gradual change towards a communist society and doesn't really allow for a peaceful transition. It just says step 1 dictatorship of the proletariat (which in practical terms means the proletariat chooses representatives to act as dictators on their behalf), step 2 dictatorship declares end to need for dictatorship after redistribution of wealth and re-education of population and end of scarcity, step 3 communist utopia. Getting stuck at step 1 seems like it is always going to be the most likely outcome of that plan.

Compare that with Socialism and libertarianism which in practice can be implemented in more of a matter of degree of moving towards those respective value systems since they don't prescribe a means of transition. Where communism envisions a transition period of dictatorship which is fundamentally unlike the end state of a communist society that is envisioned.

Comment: Re:Local testing works? (Score 1) 773

by bigpat (#47507611) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

Do libertarians believe that something other than physical force can be coercion? Historically and currently, it appears that individuals who can exert some form of coercion, economic, physical, or other, frequently will.

The issue of economic coercion is a tough one to reconcile. Because not all trades of goods and services are really free exchanges and could be considered more akin to physical force when one party is holding the other person's life or livelihood in the balance. I think there is a good argument to be made that someone not acting in good faith in the market, creating a monopoly on some essential good and service and then hording it and withholding it is an act of force in the similar way to the way that an embargo or trade sanction could be considered an act of war. In that way I think the government has a legitimate role to play in ensuring a well functioning free market with competition. So I fully support antitrust laws and it is one area where I wish the government were more active in breaking up (or otherwise restricting when a break-up is not desirable) large companies which are exercising monopolies in essential goods and services.

But the there has to be some clear relationship to physical harm for economic "coercion" to be regulated and prohibited by the government. Simply offering someone a really high salary could be considered economic coercion, but as long as there is a plentiful job market and there is no other threat associated with that offer, then that is a willing transaction. The essential part of evaluating whether a market is free is whether the participants are willingly engaged in commerce. So, for instance I disagree with laws and regulators that tell individual farmers what they can and cannot grow on their land, but I see a legitimate role for government to try and keep large corporations from buying up too large a percentage of land so that they restrict production in order to raise prices.

But in that example the government should be focused on the return to a free market with competition rather than just shrugging and accepting the monopoly and using it as an opportunity to expand its own powers to regulate that market. Essentially using the growth of monopoly as a symbiotic excuse to grow government oversight and control rather than honestly seeking to restore more balanced free market conditions. I think that is where we are now. Government agencies are allowing corporations to grow too big and using those unhealthy market conditions to justify expanding their own powers rather than honestly trying to address the core problem of loss of competition in the marketplace. Put simply instead of creating barriers to entry for small businesses, government regulation should be focused on creating a steeper curve for the largest businesses.

Comment: Re:Local testing works? (Score 1) 773

by bigpat (#47503227) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

Very few people argue for more taxes than necessary, or more government restrictions than necessary. In that sense, we're all libertarians. We differ widely on what's "necessary".

I am perfectly content to define everyone who would prefer less taxation and fewer government restrictions as libertarian. I think in a broader and practical sense that is an accurate description. But the fundamental underpinning of libertarianism is the ideal of a society that only uses government force and coercion in order to counter force and coercion.

And although therefore libertarians traditionally view just defense, police and the courts to be absolutely necessary to the function of government most libertarian leaning leaders are usually just seeking modest reductions in taxation and spending as a gradual approach to reverse long term trends.

Since the libertarian viewpoint is based on freedom, prosperity and reducing the use of force and violence in society then it isn't good to go cold turkey on government programs which could result in violence in society as people's lives and livelihood's are disrupted. Merely shifting the use of coercive force from government to individuals isn't a net gain. When it regards dismantling social programs I think it is up to libertarians to demonstrate that non-governmental charities and individuals are up to the task of that transition before we phase any of these programs out completely unless we are talking about merely shifting resources to demonstrably more effective programs.

What I do disagree with those that are critical of libertarianism is on the ideal of a libertarian society. Whether practically achievable or not to its fullest extent, to me the ideal of libertarianism is an inherently good value to strive for. And it is a given that this assumes a healthy society where charity and free will have picked up the slack in areas of social good. To me the libertarian ideal is simply like saying better parents don't beat their children, or we should treat others as we wish to be treated. The point is that you have some ideal to strive for and a system of government to perfect.

And conversely that having a society which is based on the growing use of coercive force against its own people to achieve very narrow partisan political gains is a very unhealthy path to be on.

Comment: Re:Short-Lived? (Score 1) 773

by bigpat (#47495921) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

If you read the rest of the summary, they do make the note that while they can't say that that growth is the result of increasing the minimum wage, it doesn't negatively affect it either.

Correlation is not causation. There are real numbers to look at here, but just saying that the minimum wage was increased and the economy is still growing in these states is a very coarse and misleading way of looking at it. The minimum wage hike affected very few people in most states, so I wouldn't expect it to impact the overall numbers... Raise it to $15 or $20 and then I think it would have more noticeable effects. Or find a number that 20% of the workforce is under and raise it to that wage then it would be a real experiment. Giving a few thousand people $20 or $40 or even $80 more per week might allow those people to afford more things, but it probably won't show up as even a blip in the aggregate economic numbers. I support a higher minimum wage, not because I think it will help very many people or address issues of inequity in society, but because it will help some people.

Comment: Re:Crazy (Score 1) 773

by bigpat (#47495753) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

I heard it argued recently that capitalists aren't interested in increased economic activity, only in increasing their share of economic activity. Suppressing labor markets and high unemployment helps.

Capitalism is most efficient when capital is not concentrated into a just a few hands. The principle at the heart of the idea of capitalism being more efficient than other economic systems is the same as the principle of democracy, that decisions made by many people are usually better than decisions made by few people.

Both self described capitalists and those who oppose the concentration of wealth and ascribe the term capitalist to those who concentrate wealth often seem to lose sight of the fact that capitalism is and was supposed to be a form of economic liberalization which was about the equitable distribution of capital. The over concentration of wealth is a failure to maintain a capitalist system rather than the natural result of one. In its original form capitalism and the free market simply mean that people themselves instead of governments get to decide what is of value in the economy.

So for example, while kings and tyrants might not bother themselves with the adequacy of the toilet paper supply when they can employ any number of butt wipers, people willing to spend money on toilet paper and people willing to make toilet paper will usually figure out a way to make it happen. This is a real example from the days of the Soviet Union... ample trees to make paper products, just not enough toilet paper and it just was never a priority high enough for the limited attention of central planners.

Comment: Re:Local testing works? (Score 1) 773

by bigpat (#47495653) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

And intelligent and rationality requires education on mass, which libertarians also don't want to pay for, making libertarianism a self-defeating system.

And Democracy will always fail when people vote themselves largess from the Treasury. And Monarchies will always fail when the king inevitably decides to have sex with whomever he chooses or gets drunk and decides to invade France... blah blah blah. You can attack any ideals with extreme examples.

Liberty is a good ideal to strive for and that just means seeking a system of government which supports as much freedom as possible. But all sorts of practical things get in the way like taxes and wars and natural disasters and things where it may be easier and more practical to pay for with common taxation. Libertarianism just means that people recognize that it would be better if we could just have a more free and prosperous society which paid for things based on individual free will instead of forced taxation and dictatorship. There is nothing impractical about an ideal... Like basing society on mutual respect and treating others like you would like to be treated... it is an ideal which we are bound to fall short, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good which is worth trying to perfect to the extent that it is practical.

Comment: Re: From one extremist in Liberty to another (Score 1) 261

by bigpat (#47488497) Attached to: UN Report Finds NSA Mass Surveillance Likely Violated Human Rights
Lincoln also pushed for passage of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery in 1864 and 1865. Yes, it may have taken the pressure of the 1864 presidential campaign to make it a top priority, but regardless of how he got there in the end he really did push to end slavery.

Comment: Re:And government has a responsibility too. (Score 1) 390

by bigpat (#47484841) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Usually companies that don't provide the expected value to customers will eventually fail or lose market share which is not in the interest of shareholders. I think many of the issues in customer value and satisfaction are actually not because executives are trying to provide value to their shareholders, but because executives are trying to provide short term value to themselves.

If executives were rewarded above a ample yet modest salary in restricted stock that they couldn't just turn around and sell and had to hold on to for something like 10, 15 or even 20 years, then I think you would see companies behaving with a much longer view towards sustainable customer satisfaction.

Right now, speaking as a Verizon customer I am eager for Google Fiber or any other alternative that isn't Comcast to come in and displace Verizon and Comcast in my community. Eventually, probably in the ten to twenty year time frame, Verizon and Comcast will begin to fail as companies because of the ill will they are generating unless they turn things around soon.

Comment: Idiocy (Score 1) 390

by bigpat (#47483397) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa
The idiocy we are seeing now is the result of poor regulation by the FCC, the states, and localities. We have been predicting fragmentation of the Internet because of the failures of our government to properly regulate and now we are seeing it. We are already seeing some Internet content available to customers of one company but not another.

Comment: Verizon FiOS customers downgrade! (Score 4, Interesting) 390

by bigpat (#47483359) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa
If you are paying for 75/25 or 50/25 and they are throttling it at the borders of their network, then you aren't getting the bandwidth you are paying for... downgrade your service. That $10, $20 or more per month they aren't getting from you because of their throttling practices should get their attention.

Comment: Re:No excuses left (Score 1) 390

by bigpat (#47483333) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa
I think you are underplaying the role that local governments play in restricting competition and the role of existing regulations as a barrier to entry. It isn't really all that expensive for a community or non-profit to hire a line crew and string some fiber optic cable and buy some equipment. Compared to something like running pipes underground for water and sewer and running a little wire on telephone poles is trivial. Perhaps the solution is to have more state wide regulation of telephone rights of way instead of leaving it up to municipalities or county governments. The patchwork of regulations and local agreements seems very prone to corrupt practices which is restraining competition.

Comment: Re:But scarcity! (Score 4, Insightful) 390

by bigpat (#47483265) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Prove it. At this point with stagnation or even reduction of service from the Internet providers it isn't at all clear that private companies are doing anything other than gauging customers with the exclusive franchises or licenses they are getting from communities in order to be the only one running wires.

All evidence is pointing to it being better for communities to treat wired communications along public ways as a public utility.

Much is made about the private capital that is used to invest in installing all these wires, but it is the capital of customers which is paying back those original investments. I would say the customers who are actually paying for this should be the ones that decide how they want their communications network managed.

Comment: And government has a responsibility too. (Score 4, Insightful) 390

by bigpat (#47483171) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Nice sentiment, but, unfortunately, a public corporation's responsibility is to its shareholders and their interests - which is simply $$$. (and probably executives and cushy bonuses, etc...)

And a government's responsibility is to take action against a company which is committing wholesale fraud against its customers by selling them Internet Service which promises bandwidth speeds which they are then purposefully not providing in order to shake down their customers and companies trying to provide services to those customers more money.

A government's responsibility is to ensure that companies that are given government licenses and franchise agreements which restrict competition in certain geographic areas are providing the service that the people of that area want and need at a fair price.

A government's responsibility is to ensure that companies which get too big, hold too much market share and are too horizontally or vertically integrated are broken up so that there can be real competition and a real free market.

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