An antidote for stupidity

I have already linked to two of his posts over the last couple of days. If you have still managed to miss Sauvik Chakraverti’s blog, check it out, now – Antidote. “Thank God for blogs – and the space they give to independent opinion,” he says. So damn right!

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  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 1:09 am

    I am afraid it is anything but an antidote for stupidity. Sound like the same old libertarian drivel to me. Sorry, but you would not want me lie to you.

    regards

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 8, 2008 at 1:17 am

    For a classical liberal or libertarian, those who write on contemporary topics by drawing on ideas of men like Bastiat and Mises are not “drivel”. Personally speaking, I consider communists, socialists, corporatists, “conservatives”, “liberals”, statists, Keynesians etc and their ideas to be drivel. But that’s me.

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 1:21 am

    We are nearly in complete agreement. You just need to add libertarians to that list and we have a full house! :)

    Always ready for a good debate on the drivel that is libertarianism though, just give me a shout!

    regards

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 8, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Labels cannot be debated over – ideas can. Libertarianism is an umbrella term used by people who essentially believe in limited government, individual and property rights, and freedom of expression. The fact that Noam Chomsky calls himself libertarian does not mean I agree with him.

    If you haven’t read this post and the comments that follow, please do. If there is some specific libertarian idea that you consider “drivel”, I’ll try to defend it if I support that idea.

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Indeed, Libertarianism is an umbrella, but no more than socialsim or conservatism is. Chomsky is an interesting fellow, if not a bit of a dullard at times. I am of course happy to defend my insults with real life examples.

    I admire and thank you for your offer to debate/defend a particular Libertarian idea.

    I would like to say that I do not believe a world of Libertarians is any more possible than a world of communists. So on that basis, Libertarians will have to exist in a world with ideals, and other nations based on those ideals. Here is where the problems start.

    Ideal – Free Markets – Drivel

    An ideal of many libertarians and capatalists. This is complete drivel. Free markets only exist within confined markets. Should a free market actually exist anywhere, it is soon destroyed or made part of a confined market. I will not lay the whole argument out now, just in case you agree with me :)

    regards

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 8, 2008 at 3:34 am

    No one is trying to create a world of anything. Its simply a question of a society discarding a tribal mentality and adopting an individualistic one, and that has happened in the past. The fact that America can exist (though it no longer has much moral authority) alongside loonies like Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il shows that things are not necessarily beyond redemption.

    A free market by definition is one where there is “zero” government interference; “free” does not refer to restrictions placed by market forces but by government. The only way a free society, and therefore free markets, can be destroyed is if people let it happen.

    “I would like to say that I do not believe a world of Libertarians is any more possible than a world of communists.”

    If you are simply talking about the whole world, then yes. But two great experiments on communism have taken place in the past – USSR and China – and both ended up killing millions of people. That should probably be enough to discredit the ideology even for those who do not believe in the natural rights theory of life and property.

    Communism and socialism, fascism and corporatism are all ideologies that require the use of force to pummel dissenters into submission. Capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, does not need that. All it says is – leave us alone. Its a difficult ideal. But hopefully, it will be achieved in the not too distant future.

    And what’s with the big-L? Are you referring to the Libertarian Party?

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 5:01 am

    A market free from Government, but not free from the manipulations of others does not seem very free to me, or very desireable. In fact less so than manipulations by government, which at least in some fashion will probably be for the benefit of the people, if in name only.

    I think of the many cartels and markets in history that have bought both suffering and death to so many people. This free market I cannot support.

    I do not claim they are worse than governments, but why replace one failure with another?

    The free market as you describe it has nothing but it’s own self interest; only for a short time will that be the same interest as our fellow man.

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 5:01 am

    Big L. I did not mean anything by it, just poor typing ;)

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 8, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Force has always been the monopoly of government – be it a despotic one, or some kind of monarchy, aristocracy, feudal society or democracy. Individuals and corporations cannot create “bad” monopolies because they don’t have a monopoly on force, and a free market is open to every one. Bad monopolies can only exist under government patronage.

    In the free market, anybody offering below-par services or selling bad goods will immediately lose his business to better ones. And if a particular industry has obscene profit margins, new businesses will keep coming in till the rate of return falls so low that only the existing players can survive. So only an idiot will do things that are detrimental to his customers. Would a chocolate manufacturer selling worm-infested chocolates survive in a free market? If its a government monopoly and government passes laws that declare that private chocolate manufacturing is a punishable crime, then yes. Otherwise, no.

    Even in case of cartels, if one cartel does come into existence, in what way does it prevent a new player from entering the industry, unless the existing players resort to violent methods like burning factories and threatening workers – coercion that governments should protect people against?

    I don’t know what kind of libertarians you have met or read, but people like Bastiat, Hazlitt and Mises were not lunatics – then understood economics extremely well and have written many books on the idea of free market. If you have some time, read Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms (pdf) and Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson (pdf). I think you might find them interesting.

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 8, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Force has most certainly not been a monopoly of government, there are normally other players in that game too.

    If you pay for a hitman to kill someone, it may not be your finger on the trigger, but it is your force.

    “Individuals and corporations cannot create “bad” monopolies because they don’t have a monopoly on force, and a free market is open to every one.” – That is simply not true. maybe you need to qualify ‘bad’.

    I have a feeling we are getting to the drivel here. I can point to many many attempts and some successes even if only for a short time, of business created monopoly, the effective price warfare of cartels stopping new entrants to the market and the ever present recourse to force, theft, blackmail and intimidation. On the rare occasion that a cartel cannot break a new entrant to the market, the new entrant normally becomes a member of the cartel. The free market if left to its own devices is like a government without morals. I can give you examples, but I am sure you know of some yourself. Most correction and decency comes from government correction and protection of the consumer/citizen, not from the market.

    “So only an idiot will do things that are detrimental to his customers.” – You do not really believe that do you? The free market has very little interest in what is best for the customer. Again, many instances are available to demonstrate that markets do not have the best intentions towards their customers. Price fixing, shoddy goods as well as the cartels we have already mentioned.

    It seems to me, your arguments come from that of an economist, not from your own eyes or your research of what is happening in the world, but a theory from economics.

    Economists are possibly the last people in the world that advice should be taken from, particularly somthing as important as life and society. Again there are well documented reasons for this, I expect you are aware of them.

    I have not backed up my claims here with actual instances for brevity sake, but I am more than happy to do so if required.

    Thank you for the links, I will read them.

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 8, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    You are missing the point of legitimacy while talking about force.

    If you hire a hit man to kill someone, its a crime. If a S.W.A.T. team enters your house believing that you are a criminal, even when you are not, and shoots you down, that’s not a crime.

    If the government attaches your property because you refuse to pay taxes, that’s use of force, and if you oppose them, you will face the consequences. If you prevent the officials from talking action, you will be arrested for that, if not, you lose your house.

    If you open a chocolate manufacturing facility, you cannot prevent someone else from doing the same. But if the government grants a monopoly to someone, and you start a competing business, that’s a crime and force will be used to shut you down.

    This is what I refer to when I talk about force – legitimacy granted to the government. The government is acting against you on the strength of the whole nation. There is no company in the world that commands such power. The only way they can gain access to such power is by buying government through bribes. Essentially they are using the legitimacy granted to the use of force by government against their customers and competitors.

    When I talk about “bad monopolies”, I refer to monopolies whose practices harm customers. And such companies won’t survive for too long in a free market. Private monopolies become huge not because of use of force, but because of customer satisfaction.

    Governments exist to perform one function only – protect its citizens from violence. If cartels indulge in price warfare, it means they are lowering prices, which is good news for the customer. If they do not lower prices, a new entrant will come into the market. If the cartel threatens such an entrant, its not the fault of the free market, but that of government if it fails to take action against such coercion. I don’t understand how violence can be blamed on the free market? Its an attribute of an individual – a crook – not that of the system.

    If a new member becomes part of the cartel, its because he finds that there is more profit to be made that way. If not, as long as the government proves that it can deal successfully with acts of violence, he will be better off standing on his own.

    Business is done solely for profit, not for charity, not to benefit the customer. The customer benefits because of competition which keeps the businessman on his toes. If a businessman doesn’t find a particular industry profitable enough, he won’t enter it – that’s pure business logic. You won’t work for someone who pays you less than you deserve, will you?

    If someone really needs a particular good, and he can’t find a supplier, it means there is no profitable market for such a good. In that case, if his need is great, he should manufacture it himself – no one is stopping him from doing that, is there now?

    Price fixing and shoddy goods, I have already talked about. But I will give you some examples. A few years back, Cadbury India had a problem on its hands – worm-infested chocolates – because retailers were not storing the chocolates at the correct temperature. And their business took a huge beating. They had to revamp their packaging policies and had to spend lots of money in an advertisement campaign to restore their lost reputation. Customers don’t tolerate shoddy goods in a free market. On the other hand, Indian fair price shops where poor people buy grains, oil etc are perennially short of supply – the items are sold off in the black market. Complaining against the bureaucracy does not work. So most of them have to buy their requirements from the open market where goods are costly, but are available in plenty. Telephones. Till the early 1990s, telecommunications was a government monopoly. You had to wait for three to five years before you got a telephone connection. And if you wanted it within one month, you had to pay 15,000 rupees ($300 today, maybe $500-700 in those days). Now, you get a connection within days if not hours. And prepaid cellphones connections, you can simply walk in, provide copies of identity and residence proof, pay about $10 and walk out with an activated sim card. The telecom market is not completely free, but the sheer number of competitors means that things are so much easier.

    So, I am not arguing on the basis of theories, but actual experiences. Unless you were part of the transformation from a socialist to semi-socialist economy, I think you won’t be able to know how it feels.

  • Dsylexic  On October 9, 2008 at 8:41 am

    well argued.@aristotle. good to see articulate indian libertarians.

  • omgdidisaythat  On October 10, 2008 at 12:24 am

    its not over yet, back shortly

    Dsylexic, Aristotle is articulate, and patient, but sadly wrong. Like I said, back shortly.

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