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Author Topic: Libertarian and not ashamed  (Read 9438 times)

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Offline consortium11

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #75 on: April 06, 2011, 10:17:32 AM »
For a second I thought you were going to present Mises' argument >_>

Mises and many other leading Neoclassical and Austrian monopoly theories actually get criticised a fair amount by other Libertarians.

It's interesting that he focuses on Microsoft, but doesn't actually address what Microsoft actually did to BeOS, and how Microsoft prevented computer manufacturers from dual-booting. He doesn't address what it means to own an API, either, except in a roundabout sense.

In the former case - Microsoft's abuse of contract law - would Libertarians actually support the idea that that sort of contract should be illegal? In the latter case, would Libertarians support the idea that an API needs to be open?

I can't claim to be an expert on the case: my limited understanding is that Microsoft merely encouraged other parties not to work with BeOS... which I cannot see a Libertarian thinking should be restricted by the State. Likewise with a contract that specified manufacturers would not allow dual booting.

As for API being open I cannot say. There are many libertarians who are very much into the open source scene and I know there's quite a lot of pressure against all forms of IP type laws or restrictions in general... but it appears to be much more a personal than political issue and both types seem to fit within most libertarian theories. With my own strict reading of the harm principle as a libertarian I'd be against all forms of IP laws... but as I've said earlier, I normally temper my rampant libertarianism.

This is to say nothing of the rather fragile nature of Microsoft's monopoly, as has been demonstrated by Google, Apple, and Linux.

At the time of the article 2000-2003 Microsoft's monopoly appeared far stronger if I recall correctly. To the general public Google was still just a search engine, Mac's were still for artists and people being "different" and Linux was for tech geeks. Firefox hadn't even broken into the public concious. It's perhaps a good example of why rushing to criticise something as a monopoly can be a mistake... if Microsoft, arguably one of if the the most powerful company in the world, can have its seemingly iron grip broken relatively quickly then there's hope for almost everyone.

Compare that to the situation posed by a coal company town at the dawn of the 20th century:

- Only employer in the region
- Workers are not paid in cash, but in company scrip
- Which is only redeemable at the company store
- Which is never enough to cover actual needs, driving the worker into debt.

I didn't quote the Sixteen Tons song on a lark. Wage slavery has been a real problem, and unions exist for a reason.

Mises himself noted that natural resources such as this were one of the areas where a monopoly could appear regardless of government involvement.

I'd also note that libertarianism doesn't oppose unions in and of themselves, just the legislative protection they receive. If a group of individuals freely decide to negotiate as one with an employer to gain a better settlement they are perfectly entitled to do so with the threat of withdrawing their labour as the stick to complement the carrot of their skills. The plot basis of Atlas Shrugged is at least partly reliant on this.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #76 on: April 06, 2011, 11:00:11 AM »
Mises and many other leading Neoclassical and Austrian monopoly theories actually get criticised a fair amount by other Libertarians.

I wouldn't know that from trying to deal with the bitcoin folk : /

Quote
I can't claim to be an expert on the case: my limited understanding is that Microsoft merely encouraged other parties not to work with BeOS... which I cannot see a Libertarian thinking should be restricted by the State. Likewise with a contract that specified manufacturers would not allow dual booting.

Well in terms of the case, Be was not allowed to join in, for some obscene reason. Be had a legitimate complaint, Netscape didn't. Their programmers really did suck. Be had a lot of innovative technology in its package that got lost.

Quote
As for API being open I cannot say. There are many libertarians who are very much into the open source scene and I know there's quite a lot of pressure against all forms of IP type laws or restrictions in general... but it appears to be much more a personal than political issue and both types seem to fit within most libertarian theories. With my own strict reading of the harm principle as a libertarian I'd be against all forms of IP laws... but as I've said earlier, I normally temper my rampant libertarianism.

Well here's the issue - the guy makes a big deal about Microsoft's monopoly being IP given. It's important to note that, a key factor of Microsoft's early dominance over its competitors was in fact its lax enforcement over its own intellectual property. This was the most blatant with Windows 3.1.

Let's take it for granted that Windows would still have arisen in these cases (Microsoft certainly would have as originally the OS was basically considered a part of the physical machine).

Microsoft charges more for its support contracts to compensate. Its software still ends up dominating, because anyone trying to compete has an even bigger hurdle to leap - Microsoft's software is actually free. You just have to pay for support.

Yet Microsoft still controls the source code. Microsoft's grip is just as tight - if not tighter - than it was with IP laws. With IP laws you can at least own a competing product. Microsoft, on the other hand, has nothing preventing it from selling the next version that includes a license server which phones home do download critical update code, perform occasional critical tasks, and so on.

Microsoft still has the monopoly, even without IP laws. As a microcosm example, I'll point to Apache's dominance, which basically was the Microsoft of the webserver world (until nginx's rise) except that you can make use of their source code and patents so long as you don't stick their name on your product.

But the API for webservers is open. Source code is publicly available that does everything that needs to be done. This is not the case for Microsoft Windows.

Quote
At the time of the article 2000-2003 Microsoft's monopoly appeared far stronger if I recall correctly. To the general public Google was still just a search engine, Mac's were still for artists and people being "different" and Linux was for tech geeks. Firefox hadn't even broken into the public concious. It's perhaps a good example of why rushing to criticise something as a monopoly can be a mistake... if Microsoft, arguably one of if the the most powerful company in the world, can have its seemingly iron grip broken relatively quickly then there's hope for almost everyone.

It doesn't absolve it of criticism - Microsoft did do some very unethical things. I think it's more a reflection of - as Warren Buffet says, you always see the future through a fog, and 'this too shall pass'. You can look back and make a lot of sense out of how IBM fell, how Microsoft fell, how the Soviet Union fell, etc. Hindsight is 20/20, and only that bad if you're a fool.

In a way, I think it's important to consider things like Microsoft as problems to be challenged if everyone was complacent about it would anything be done?

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Mises himself noted that natural resources such as this were one of the areas where a monopoly could appear regardless of government involvement.

Actually, I was referring to an employer having a monopoly on employment itself, driving effective wages to zero, though that's an example too.

Quote
I'd also note that libertarianism doesn't oppose unions in and of themselves, just the legislative protection they receive. If a group of individuals freely decide to negotiate as one with an employer to gain a better settlement they are perfectly entitled to do so with the threat of withdrawing their labour as the stick to complement the carrot of their skills. The plot basis of Atlas Shrugged is at least partly reliant on this.

I'm not aware of them having much legislative protection as a whole, though individual unions sometimes do.

Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #77 on: May 13, 2011, 05:49:12 PM »
I bet you thought I'd run away. (Well, I'd bet someone did, were I a betting man.) Nope. I just ended up with a lot of work, and I needed to focus on that more than I wanted to be denigra... er, more than I wanted to discuss libertarian ideas here.

Let's see if I can get back to some occasional libertarian discussion by addressing some of the points made from before my absence.

to Consortium11:
1) While Hans-Hermann Hoppe's position on immigration may not seem libertarian to you and me, that is a single issue and hardly precludes him from being libertarian. And as I recall, the point in mentioning him in the first place was not to debate his immigration ideas, but merely to illustrate that libertarians are not all of a single group ideology. If you want to debate whether Hoppe is libertarian or not, that would be a completely different conversation.

2) On the free-speech issue, you seem to be trying to claim that any expression of support for protecting freedom of speech means opposition to laws against fraud. Your support for this assertion does not, imo, hold up under scrutiny. You bring up the falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater bit, and say libertarians are against restricting that sort of speech. I ask who has said so, and your best examples never even mention the scenario, much less express some notion that libertarians oppose laws against fraud. Your argument seems to amount to little more than you saying so-and-so claim(s) to support free speech, so therefore they are opposed to laws against falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater and/or fraud. Which is basically argument by assertion.

3) Your dismissal of Bastiat as merely a pamphleteer I do not understand. You couldn't handle viewing a flash presentation of ideas so we would have some common frame of reference. You wanted "original sources". So I used a quote from Bastiat. Rather than discuss the merit of what Bastiat said, you dismissed him. Frankly, I am not sure how to have a discussion with someone who for all intents and purposes seems only interested in telling me what all libertarians must believe and dismisses anything and everything that contradicts such assertion. I am beginning to understand how Mormons must feel when the try to discuss Mormonism with misinformed Protestants.

4) You said, "putting forward an argument as to why logically a libertarian in name and deed should oppose fraud legislation is not a 'hostile' argument." Perhaps. However, putting forth an argument that says libertarians are okay with fraud, which you basically did, is a hostile argument. It's sort of like the argument I saw made on another forum for another site that claimed "Republicans want women to get cancer" because some people opposed mandatory cervical cancer vaccination. Granted your language was a bit more polite than that, but no less hostile. For you to be surprised that someone would perceive it as hostile seems a bit disingenuous.

to Vekseid:
1) You said, "I am specifically discussing regulations that prevent fraud and externalities. If you're for these - great - but it's not like progressives are going to argue for removing malregulation." If I use your logic, you must be in favor of fraud and externalities because you've just said you're okay with removing some regulations. But I know you're not. And accusing you of such would be ridiculous. Pretty much like accusing me of being in favor of fraud and externalities is ridiculous. I may support getting rid of more regulations than you, but that is not a good reason to ascribe to me support for things like fraud.

2) "do you support or oppose the Clean Water Act?" In principle and/or at least as I understand it, I don't have much opposition to it (though I think it would be largely uncessary if we had better property rights protection). As it was implemented, I oppose it a lot.

"do you support or oppose Glass-Steagall?" Oppose.

"do you support or oppose Network Neutrality?" Oppose.

"Do you support or oppose nuclear regulations?" That's rather broad. I would probably support some and oppose others.

"Do you support or oppose antitrust regulations? This is a big one." In general, I find I oppose them because they end up being used to do things like try to prosecute large businesses (often at the urging of other large businesses) for, essentially, being successful, rather than provide any meaningful protection for consumers.

"Do you support or oppose campaign finance regulations?" Mostly oppose. The government should not be involved in telling people how much money they can give to people they support. Nor should it ban anonymous contributions any more than it should ban anonymous speech.

3) "'This food contains sawdust' versus 'this food contains cellulose pulp' versus banning sawdust in food." Wasn't that long ago I read an article about cellulose being used in foods more frequently now. Improves fiber content and texture, as I recall. Anyway, I am guessing you're trying to talking, in part, about misleading people about what is in food. I don't know what cholecalciferol is, but I ingest it probably every day. Same goes for cyanocobalamin, sodium hexametaphosphate, and several other ingredients of the Muscle Milk brand of protein drinks. Then again, I can go find out what they are without much trouble. Let's see now... load Wikipedia... look up cholecalciferol and find it is... (drum roll please) a form of vitamin D. Never bothered to look it up before. I would guess most people don't look these things up, if they are even bothering to read the ingredients on the labels of the food they buy. But let's talk about bans for a moment too. Do we really need to be locking up Mennonites for selling raw milk to people who want buy raw milk? Mind you, not passing off raw milk as pasteurized, but raw milk as raw milk. Do we really need that? A ban on raw milk may have had a good purpose once, but any more, I doubt it does. Just because government can pass and enforce bans in the name of protecting people doesn't mean it should or that the results are always a benefit.

4) "So, I see this a lot. 'I am not an economist' - from people arguing economic theory. Why is that?" Because some people aren't economists? Look, I have some economic knowledge in broad strokes and a minor amount of detail, but I am self-educated on this. I know enough to disagree with you, but I know I don't know enough to substantially counter all the economic points you were making. My failing. So sue me.

5) "In order to build a fully functioning, serious economic system, you need to ensure that it is, ultimately, stable." I do, however, know that to even being discussing that requires, at the very least, definitions for what you mean by "serious" and "stable."

6) "This, ultimately, means that some positions are in fact untenable - they won't work, for one reason or another. You can choose to evolve your philosophy when faced with such a situation - but if you don't, your position will not be treated seriously." Indeed. This is a reason I keep wondering why some people think government laws and regulations are going to fix everything.

7) "I've never seen libertarian thought actually address the problem posed by a monopoly, for example." Then perhaps you're not looking hard enough. For one, there is plenty of writing by libertarians about monopolies. (http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=libertarianism+monopoly) For another, libertarianism is all about addressing the problems posed by the greatest monopoly of them all: the government.

Offline BCdan

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #78 on: May 26, 2011, 02:12:47 PM »
o_o 

To answer the original question because I really don't want to read through four pages of big walls o'text...

Hi!  I consider myself to be a libertarian.  I tend to stay out of the politics sub-forum most of the time because politics can get my blood boiling and Elliquiy is my fuzzy warm happy place to be on the internet. 

On some specific issues:

-I would replace the welfare state with a night watchmen state funded by a flat and fair tax system. 
-A strongly believe in property rights both for practical and philosophical reasons.
-I feel that capitalism and free markets are highly ethical and moral systems economics. 
-I believe in the Non-Aggression Principle. 
-Its not that I am against democracy, so much as I don't think other people should have a say in many personal decisions.  For example, I don't think people should even have the option to vote away other peoples rights to marry whom they choose.   Marriage shouldn't be regulated in any way shape or form and should legally be treated as a contract between two or more consenting adults. 
-I think the education industry should be managed more like the food industry.  Schools privately owned with an 'FDA' putting down some general guidelines and vouchers for the poor. Maybe not purely libertarian, but much more libertarian than the current system.   

Ask me anything about my beliefs.  Theres some things I don't have well developed opinions on.  Other things I may have a philosophical view on, but not a well developed practical view on. 


Offline Vekseid

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #79 on: May 26, 2011, 02:47:44 PM »
I missed this.

2) "do you support or oppose the Clean Water Act?" In principle and/or at least as I understand it, I don't have much opposition to it (though I think it would be largely uncessary if we had better property rights protection). As it was implemented, I oppose it a lot.

Alright.

Quote
"do you support or oppose Glass-Steagall?" Oppose.

Taking in account the part I snipped, what about the transparency and disclosure regulations it entailed?

Quote
"do you support or oppose Network Neutrality?" Oppose.

On a similar vein, we have a certain expectation, today, that if a company offers 'Internet' access, they actually are providing access to the entire Internet. In slightly more technical terms, this means that they have all the necessary peering arrangements, to, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the time, connect a customer to any other portion of the Internet at a good fraction of the respective bandwidths that each have purchased, notwithstanding any load limitations that either are facing of their own volition.

The crux of the network neutrality argument is - if a provider refuses to do that, they are not actually offering Internet access by the publicly accepted definition. Would you support or oppose a regulation to that effect?

I'm saying this because some whackjobs have significantly misinterpreted the problem and would like to cut around that.

Quote
"Do you support or oppose nuclear regulations?" That's rather broad. I would probably support some and oppose others.

As an example, I live in Minnesota. Say I went out, bought some land, dug up a bunch of dirt in a uranium-rich area, and bought some high-quality centrifuges. Would it be right for government spooks to drop by and ask me what the fuck I was up to?

Quote
"Do you support or oppose antitrust regulations? This is a big one." In general, I find I oppose them because they end up being used to do things like try to prosecute large businesses (often at the urging of other large businesses) for, essentially, being successful, rather than provide any meaningful protection for consumers.

That's the case with Google and Microsoft now, but that also makes Google's case weaker.

An example of monopolistic abuse would be, Microsoft's 'agreement' with OEMs that they could not install another operating system alongside Windows for dual-booting. This was vastly more illegal than Netscape's argument (part of their problem was they really did suck). Be, Inc. on the other hand effectively was forced out of business by this agreement that essentially shut them out of the OS business. Because OEMs could either honor sell Windows, or sell BeOS. But not both.

Is a regulation against something like that alright, or is it wrong?

Quote
"Do you support or oppose campaign finance regulations?" Mostly oppose. The government should not be involved in telling people how much money they can give to people they support. Nor should it ban anonymous contributions any more than it should ban anonymous speech.

This is a money=speech argument. It's rather dangerous, in my opinion - if you allow people to buy laws, how do you prevent them from dismantling your ideal government?

Quote
3) "'This food contains sawdust' versus 'this food contains cellulose pulp' versus banning sawdust in food." Wasn't that long ago I read an article about cellulose being used in foods more frequently now. Improves fiber content and texture, as I recall. Anyway, I am guessing you're trying to talking, in part, about misleading people about what is in food. I don't know what cholecalciferol is, but I ingest it probably every day. Same goes for cyanocobalamin, sodium hexametaphosphate, and several other ingredients of the Muscle Milk brand of protein drinks. Then again, I can go find out what they are without much trouble. Let's see now... load Wikipedia... look up cholecalciferol and find it is... (drum roll please) a form of vitamin D. Never bothered to look it up before. I would guess most people don't look these things up, if they are even bothering to read the ingredients on the labels of the food they buy. But let's talk about bans for a moment too. Do we really need to be locking up Mennonites for selling raw milk to people who want buy raw milk? Mind you, not passing off raw milk as pasteurized, but raw milk as raw milk. Do we really need that? A ban on raw milk may have had a good purpose once, but any more, I doubt it does. Just because government can pass and enforce bans in the name of protecting people doesn't mean it should or that the results are always a benefit.

No? But do we really need people having mercury in their food?

And as you yourself mentioned, the ingredients list is usually legally mandated - is that a problem?

Quote
4) "So, I see this a lot. 'I am not an economist' - from people arguing economic theory. Why is that?" Because some people aren't economists? Look, I have some economic knowledge in broad strokes and a minor amount of detail, but I am self-educated on this. I know enough to disagree with you, but I know I don't know enough to substantially counter all the economic points you were making. My failing. So sue me.

5) "In order to build a fully functioning, serious economic system, you need to ensure that it is, ultimately, stable." I do, however, know that to even being discussing that requires, at the very least, definitions for what you mean by "serious" and "stable."

Take your position on campaign finance laws, for example. How do you propose the system avoid corruption without removing the allocation of resources from the equation?

Quote
7) "I've never seen libertarian thought actually address the problem posed by a monopoly, for example." Then perhaps you're not looking hard enough. For one, there is plenty of writing by libertarians about monopolies. (http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=libertarianism+monopoly) For another, libertarianism is all about addressing the problems posed by the greatest monopoly of them all: the government.

I mean in a sense that isn't based on some delusion that the government 'created' Standard Oil or US Steel. They say government creates monopolies, but outside of those instruments where it has actually genuinely made this so (utilities and intellectual property) the argument is pretty tenuous. Ologopolies tend to form naturally - do you think the price of an SMS message is the genuine free market rate? It takes a special sort of idiot to think that the SMS situation is anything but price fixing.


Offline XajowTopic starter

Re: Libertarian and not ashamed
« Reply #80 on: May 31, 2011, 02:02:22 PM »
Taking in account the part I snipped, what about the transparency and disclosure regulations [Glass-Steagall] entailed?
To be honest, I have not found much information about transparency and disclosure regulations in Glass-Steagall. What I can find is mostly like this: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/03/071603.asp. I do not oppose transparency and disclosure rules, so long as we're talking about transparency to the customer. Regulations that would, for example require banks to disclose a customer's private information to the government, I do not support.

On a similar vein, we have a certain expectation, today, that if a company offers 'Internet' access, they actually are providing access to the entire Internet. In slightly more technical terms, this means that they have all the necessary peering arrangements, to, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the time, connect a customer to any other portion of the Internet at a good fraction of the respective bandwidths that each have purchased, notwithstanding any load limitations that either are facing of their own volition.

The crux of the network neutrality argument is - if a provider refuses to do that, they are not actually offering Internet access by the publicly accepted definition. Would you support or oppose a regulation to that effect?
I would support a regulation that says the ISP has to disclose to the customer exactly what the customer would get for his money. I would not support regulations forcing ISPs to always provide full internet access.

As an example, I live in Minnesota. Say I went out, bought some land, dug up a bunch of dirt in a uranium-rich area, and bought some high-quality centrifuges. Would it be right for government spooks to drop by and ask me what the fuck I was up to?
Yes. Because what you're doing in that instance has high potential to damage other people's property.

An example of monopolistic abuse would be, Microsoft's 'agreement' with OEMs that they could not install another operating system alongside Windows for dual-booting. This was vastly more illegal than Netscape's argument (part of their problem was they really did suck). Be, Inc. on the other hand effectively was forced out of business by this agreement that essentially shut them out of the OS business. Because OEMs could either honor sell Windows, or sell BeOS. But not both.

Is a regulation against something like that alright, or is it wrong?
Regulation against two parties voluntarily entering into an agreement about software on computers. This seems like asking if there should be a regulation against Coca-Cola and Pepsi making restaurants agree to sell soda product provided by only one of the two companies. That Be, Inc. was unable to compete with Microsoft is not Microsoft's fault. If Be had been more aggressive in making its own deals, they might have been able to compete. So no, I do not believe there should be a regulation against that.

This is a money=speech argument. It's rather dangerous, in my opinion - if you allow people to buy laws, how do you prevent them from dismantling your ideal government?
You're equating contributing to a candidate with buying laws. But given that we are no where near my ideal government right now, I don't see that current restrictions do any good. If anything they help keep most of the media declared "front-runners" protected from folks like, say, Ron Paul. Which leaves pretty much the very wealthy who can buy the name recognition and raise more money as the only people who can afford to be candidates. Until someone like Ross Perot, which is to say someone with massive amounts of wealth who is willing to buy sufficient air time to make a dent in the nation's political attention, pops up again we're likely to not see a "viable" third party candidate again. That doesn't seem like a good system if we're concerned about using the democratic process to find the best candidate for the job. If, on the other hand, all we want is to keep largely interchangeable Depublocrats and Remolicans (see Obama's continuation of pretty much every Bush policy nearly unchanged and Mitt "I'm seriously viable" Romney opposing but not really Obamacare) as the only two viable parties, then we're good.

No? But do we really need people having mercury in their food?

And as you yourself mentioned, the ingredients list is usually legally mandated - is that a problem?
Mercury, probably not. I could be wrong, but as I recall, mercury in food starts as a pollution problem, for which again I think we need stronger property protections. Mandated ingredient lists? No, I don't really have a problem with that.

Take your position on campaign finance laws, for example. How do you propose the system avoid corruption without removing the allocation of resources from the equation?
Well, I am going to guess that by corruption you mean something like your earlier comment of buying laws. If we start getting government pared back, there will be less laws to buy. I know a lot of people are concerned about big corporations buying influence. When government has little influence over other business to "sell" there won't be much for corporations to "buy". On the other hand, in the current situation, corporations "buy" influence all the time and the corporate fatcats were able to get the government hand over billions of dollars that did not belong to them. Why this is more desirable, I have yet to determine.

I mean in a sense that isn't based on some delusion that the government 'created' Standard Oil or US Steel. They say government creates monopolies, but outside of those instruments where it has actually genuinely made this so (utilities and intellectual property) the argument is pretty tenuous. Ologopolies tend to form naturally - do you think the price of an SMS message is the genuine free market rate? It takes a special sort of idiot to think that the SMS situation is anything but price fixing.
"Genuine free market rate" assumes we have a free market, and we don't. Anyway, the oligopolies we see today are often in part a result of a few companies making deals with government to create regulations that either prevent or severely inhibit competition from smaller companies. We did not have only two (now one) satellite radio companies because people only wanted two or because only two companies tried to get into that business. We had only two, as I understand it, because broadcast radio companies demanded the FCC keep the number allowed to two, and the FCC complied. (Satellite radio is in financial trouble right now, as I understand it, mostly because of the intertubes, and because people can now load up their car with multiple CDs each packed with MP3 files and/or plug their MP3 player directly into their car stereos.) Obviously corporations look for ways to strengthen their position and weaken that of their competitors. Letting corporations partner with government to do so seems extremely counterproductive if preventing monopolies and oligopolies is what we want.