Removing Regulation and Free Markets

Removing Regulation and Free Markets
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Are unregulated markets and free market economics the same? Are these ideas really synonymous? In writing a comment to another article, it became clear that it was itself actually a short article. The ideas that follow are simple, easy to understand, and anything but extreme. They are more practical than ideological:

1. Income and wealth inequality are a natural consequence of differences in aptitude, environment, and motivation.

2. When an actual, practical, free market economy is working best, in the aggregate it roughly approximates the ideal of rewarding everyone with compensation that corresponds to the true economic merit of their contributions to the well being of society.

3. Extremes that deviate substantially toward either less or greater inequality from such approximately idealized economic function are economically unhealthy for society as a whole.

4. These extremes are the result of either:

    a. socialist ideologies that politically mandate an unnatural reduction of income and wealth inequality and so remove the fundamental incentives that drive the economic engine


    b. manipulation by the corrupting political influence of a financial elite to tip the legislative scales in favor of garnering unearned income from those less influential, partially removing from both themselves and those they exploit the economic incentives that drive the economic engine.

5. Lack of policing human behavior in any context results in lawlessness, unbridled criminal behaviors and social chaos, since by default those with the most power are free to exploit those who lack it.

6. Unregulated, free market economics is therefore an oxymoron and cannot exist, since given human flaws, unregulated markets are intrinsically never free.

So in point 4 we can see from parts a and b under it that both extremes remove incentives that drive the economic engine. However, crony capitalism easily bests socialist extremes despite the macroeconomic and individual damage gross inequality inflicts. The reason is simple. The removal of productive incentives is much less complete in crony capitalism than it is in socialist extremes, especially in the case of communism.

This generates false arguments on both the left and the right. The left argues that socialism takes better care of the lower extreme and that the rich really do not need all that wealth. The right, although they omit the term crony despite its clear appropriateness, argues that because crony capitalism is both more successful and much less politically regulated than socialist extremes, especially pure communism, regulation is per se a socialist idea and is therefore intrinsically a bad one.

This goes so far as to criminalize even minimal social safety nets provided by government. They portray it as socialism that robs the rich to help the poor. This clever manipulation of political opinion is just the magician's ploy of misdirection that arouses anger in the middle class toward the poor for allegedly robbing them through taxes with unbridled fraud. The pre-existing fears and prejudices of the middle class, sometimes including competition, especially at the lower end of the financial spectrum, makes this an easy game for the financial elite to win.

Crony capitalists advance this argument both to enable and justify the resulting partial removal of economic incentives with their sense of entitlement. In their minds, they are entitled to legally garner unearned wealth from the rest of us via their stronger legislative influence. In a quasi-democracy, they have to enlist help from voters to achieve this. They do so by either becoming experts in psychological manipulation of the prejudices and fears of the ignorant or by hiring such experts.

The news media are now full of talking heads advancing both arguments with no understanding of the economic reality of a middle ground that is capitalism without the crony part, with constitutional protections of intelligent regulation that outlaw the currently blatant conflicts of interest built into the U.S. politico-economic system. Lack of education in genuine critical thought, susceptibility to irrational emotional appeal, and easily provoked, pre-existing fears and prejudices combine to make far too many of us susceptible to looking for a cure at the extremes. We, as a people, are ignoring the health and sanity of the fairness that is naturally intrinsic to intelligent regulation of otherwise free markets. We need regulation that allows markets to exist free of conflicts of interest while also freely allowing the power of economic choice to optimize our overall economic and social well being.

Copyright May 2014 © Robert P. Wendell

Redistribution freely permitted contingent upon the unmodified inclusion of this copyright notice.



Mike Haluska Added May 31, 2014 - 5:14pm
Robert - very well constructed article.  I think where most free market advocates get jittery is with the word "regulation".  We have a criminal code which is designed to protect us from fraud, coercion, extortion, etc.  I don't think we should lump in the items above as "regulation".  
As long as competition is preserved and no business entity can gain advantage over their competition from the regulation, I can go along with the regulation.  Things like making sure all restaurants don't have rats running through the kitchen, pharmaceutical companies disclose what is in their medication, etc. make good sense.
Robert Wendell Added May 31, 2014 - 10:37pm
Robert S., maybe you should read the article again. It talks of a natural inequality. Unnaturally high or low inequality results when the system is gamed either by:
1. communism/socialism to artificially (meaning unnaturally) reduce inequality
2. a financial elite, an effective oligarchy that uses financial power to buy the political power to game the system in their favor and suck unearned money from everyone else's pocket.
Please don't read stuff into what I write that I didn't say. What most conservatives today miss is that an effective oligarchy is heavily gaming the system right now to suck up unearned money into their own pockets and cause huge opportunity costs to everyone via the economic ill health they cause. Nowhere did I say that anyone should impose an upper limit on anyone. Where do you get that from anything I wrote?
What do you think happened in 2008, or are you a total sucker for the hard right spin on that? Those who were unqualified for their housing loans, etc. are a very long way from the whole story. They are far from the only ones who have suffered tremendous losses as a result of outright fraudulent practices that some individual perpetrators used to make themselves extremely wealthy.
Please note that what I just stated does NOT restrict that crisis to financial corporations themselves, although they were certainly complicit and very much share the blame. There were lots of individuals who got away with financial murder and made themselves extremely wealthy doing so at far greater cost to the entire economy than their gains could ever compensate even if they had deserved them.
I believe in the power of truly free market economics to produce and distribute goods more efficiently than any human planning, computer software, or their combination could ever achieve as long as no one, no matter how powerful, is allowed to game the system. However, there are lots of legalized ways in which the system is currently gamed. There are huge conflicts of interest implemented by overweening financial influence on legislative process.
One of the reasons the financial elite can so effectively do this and get away with it is their powerful influence on grass roots political opinion and the unnecessary, indeed the bewildering complexity of both regulations and our tax system. That gives regulation a bad name and makes it an easy political target for their conniving criticism. But the very reason for this is the perpetual need for regulatory law to come up with ad hoc, stop-gap solutions whenever this gaming oversteps enough to make it politically feasible to counter them with legal bandaids.
This is what needs to be stopped and regulated. Enforcing laws against outright financial crimes is not enough. We need regulations and perhaps even constitutional amendments that demand restructuring our legal system to eliminate the current, glaring conflicts of interest and legalized rip-offs.
On the safety nets, moral governance doesn't leave sick people in the streets to die because they don't have financial access to medical care. etc., etc. I've been saved by government help when I lost work through no fault of my own. My company went belly-up. I was on straight commission recruiting contract engineers (with no head hunting involved) and the highest producer. I got a company award for my performance. I was the last recruiter still there when the company evaporated.
But that didn't do anything for my wife and me when I couldn't find work. I ran out of unemployment insurance twice looking for steady work. In the meantime, I was doing everything from cleaning barns to working for painting contractors, as well as tuning pianos and teaching voice in a very small market with already well established competition. EVen so, we would have been on the street if it hadn't been for government help to tide us over.
How good do you think it would have been for our economy if we had become homeless beggars for charity with a college education? Sure there is fraud. Some aspects of our system provide incentives for fraud. We do need to change that. But eliminating government help only makes sense in the mind of fortunate fools who take all the credit for their good luck and arrogantly brand those less fortunate as lazy bloodsuckers while the financial elite suck ten times as much blood as opportunity costs of the economic ill health they cause.
Robert Wendell Added May 31, 2014 - 10:37pm

Once they've gained a certain financial status, they cause it shamelessly. It's exactly the same psychology responsible for the anciently alleged divine right of kings. Their overweening arrogance makes them feel entitled to do so. Then they get dumb, ignorant suckers mad at entitlements for taking their tax money. It's the old magician's trick called misdirection. There are talking heads making millions helping them do this.
Robert Wendell Added May 31, 2014 - 11:04pm
Robert S., I realize I failed to respond to your point about people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. I have no problem with them as long as they are playing fair. I do NOT support any kind of limits to wealth. The current extreme inequality is not the result of a few statistical outliers and I do NOT resent their immense wealth. However, when 1% of the population owns 40% of the national wealth, both liquid and illiquid assets, things are out of balance.
Inequality in the U.S. is at record highs historically. It is a matter of clear historical record that such extremes coincide with poor gross productivity and overall economic ill health. Our economic cycles are, in part, caused by the political pendulum swinging in opposite directions until we reach one unhealthy extreme or the other, too much or too little inequality. The extremes cause political turmoil and consequent action to reverse the trend. This has nothing to do with a few individuals. We need to look at the responsible mechanisms in the aggregate.
The most tranquil times and healthiest national economic life have historically corresponded to a moderate level of inequality between these extremes. We are like a physical system that swings back and forth in response to slow political feedback and the resulting reactions. I don't think either the left or the right understands this very well at all.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 1, 2014 - 6:33pm
I believe that the "gap" between wealthy and poor is irrelevant.  The same is true for the X% controlling Z% argument.  If the economy produces opportunity for anyone willing to work hard to have what we consider today to be the "basics" (adequate housing, food, transportation, education, etc. - middle class) then it's doing its job.
There will always be those who by choice do no more than absolutely necessary to survive.  There will always be those who NOT by choice are unable to secure the basic necessities.  The latter are the responsibility of each of us individually and not society as a whole.  Society as a whole is incapable (politically) of distinguishing between deserving direct financial assistance and those who financial assistance would do more long term harm than good.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 1:03am
Robert S., good grief! Do you always read everything ignoring context? Meaning, in case you don't know, is very context dependent, to wit:
1. Income and wealth inequality are a natural consequence of differences in aptitude, environment, and motivation.
2. When an actual, practical, free market economy is working best, in the aggregate it roughly approximates the ideal of rewarding everyone with compensation that corresponds to the true economic merit of their contributions to the well being of society.
Point number two elaborates what natural  means, doesn't it? The subsequent points also elaborate what unnatural means, don't they?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 1:42am
Mike, your points are fully valid in an economy that actually functions as you describe it. If we disagree at all on these issues, it is that I don't think our society or its economy are anywhere close to functioning this way. I notice that most conservatives today have extremely provincial concepts of how the world at large actually works. I'm not personally categorizing you here. I'm just calling the situation in general as I see it.
I consider myself impossible to categorize in conventional political terms. I think the word conservatives should ideally mean highly informed people with an expanded vision who wish to preserve what's good for society and its economy and freely, openly, creatively, and aggressively adapt to inevitable change. This is especially important in our current society for which change is accelerating like never before in human history. I don't see much of this among conservatives now...quite the contrary. They almost all seem bound and tied to impose extremely provincial, parochial perspectives on a world that is vastly different from what they conceive it to be. 
So I classify myself as a progressive conservative, meaning what I've described in the previous paragraph. I believe in free market economics, but defined as I have defined it here. The tax system and the entitlements we have now, especially Medicare, are a horrendous mess created by the problems endemic to the distortions in both directions we have seen courtesy of both the right and the left.
However, for the last decades, the right has been winning this tug of war. Taxes and the entitlements they pay for are the result of patches designed to remedy the gross distortions those who have noticed have imposed with their political influence. Conservatives despise this influence without any recognition of its source or the help they lend it with their idealistic ignorance of what's really going down on the street.
This distortion has been in favor of the wealthy, who abuse politics with money to game the system in their favor, providing them all kinds of unearned wealth. In economic theory, this is called rent-seeking. This trashes real opportunity for tons of folks. Conservative blindness to this lends the financial elite the political slack that allows them to perpetrate this sham. In fact they vigorously promote this blindness with their highly paid talking heads.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 1:45am
Hi, Greg! Welcome! I don't believe we've communicated before. I very much appreciate your comments.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 1:49am
Mike, I should have said healthcare instead of Medicare. That's too restrictive for what I'm referring to.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 2, 2014 - 11:20am
Robert - your comment:
"This distortion has been in favor of the wealthy, who abuse politics with money to game the system in their favor, providing them all kinds of unearned wealth."
requires some qualification/clarification.  As you already know, my recommendation for minimizing the problem you describe is removing the power of politicians/bureaucrats to grant exemptions and special favors - if a law is passed there are NO exceptions.  Take away the politician's ability to grant favors and there is no incentive for anyone to make large contributions to politicians for "selfish" reasons.
As far as control of wealth, I see no problem with the top 1% controlling 40% of the wealth or the top 25% controlling 60% of the wealth provided:
1) the wealth was earned honestly through free exchange
2) there are no arbitrary economic, social, racial, etc. barriers for anyone to attain as much wealth as they are capable of earning honestly
My question to those with a problem with the "top 1% holding 40%" is this:
"What would you propose to do about it - confiscate the wealth and redistribute it to those who didn't earn it?"
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 2:17pm
" recommendation for minimizing the problem you describe is removing the power of politicians/bureaucrats to grant exemptions and special favors - if a law is passed there are NO exceptions."
Then Mike follows with:
"1) the wealth was earned honestly through free exchange
"2) there are no arbitrary economic, social, racial, etc. barriers for anyone to attain as much wealth as they are capable of earning honestly"
So I agree wholeheartedly with the first quote from you above, Mike. The problems we have and the clarification you request is right there in your own words, since the problems are a symptom of NOT having done that...quite the reverse! So you've answered your own question. But you contradict it with the two points you make in the second quote above from you. If this were actually true, we would have no problems.
Why do you believe your recommendation in the first quote is necessary if you think the wealth was earned honestly and there are no barriers to attain as much wealth as a person is capable of earning? The fact that some have done so means only that not all have been unable to surmount the barriers and that some have become wealthy by erecting the barriers because we haven't followed your recommendations in the first quote.
Then you ask a final question:
"What would you propose to do about it - confiscate the wealth and redistribute it to those who didn't earn it?"
Well, why do you ask that? That question assumes the problem is the cause. Have you not considered that it's a symptom of not having followed your advice in the first quote? If you've read my previous comments, you should have already understood that whatever degree to which we are actually doing what you seem to imply I'm proposing, we are simply putting patches on symptoms instead of addressing the cause. You've already described the cause perfectly in the first quote, since your recommendation clearly implies we haven't followed your advice. Otherwise, what is the intent of your advice?
Johnny Fever Added Jun 2, 2014 - 4:41pm
@ Mike & Robert
Congress can’t make a law which requires Congress to follow all previously past laws without exceptions.  The reason it can’t pass such a law is because the current Congress can’t tell a future Congress what it can or can’t do. I hope this helps in your debate, I will be reading where it goes from here with this knowledge in hand.  
Robert Wendell Added Jun 2, 2014 - 5:01pm
Johnny, why is this true? Do you have a citation? It makes no sense to me. The U.S. Constitution does that. I can see why a current congress should not be allowed carte blanche to determine anything about what a future congress can or cannot do. That could be ruinous, especially with the sick body we have right now. However, why can't certain kinds of legislation, like no conflicts of interest, etc., eliminate problems that are already ruinous?
Mike Haluska Added Jun 2, 2014 - 8:26pm
Robert - the second 2 points deal with wealth distribution, not corrupt politicians.  I should have stated that more clearly.  1% controlling sounds a lot better than 0.01% controlling ALL wealth (socialism) under the pretense of the "people's government".  I think the economy is best served when whatever amount of wealth flows freely to those who can best manage it wisely.
Johnny Fever Added Jun 2, 2014 - 11:04pm
@ Robert
Do a Google search using the search term “One Congress can’t bind another” and you’ll discover many links supporting what I said. 
Or forget about Google and think about the issue rationally.  Assume one Congress enacts Obamacare, what possibly prevents another Congress, provided they have the votes, from repealing Obamacare?  Nothing, in other words, you and mike could have one Congress enact some law saying all laws have to be followed the way they are written and the next Congress could hand out special favors and exemptions.  Who’s going to stop them, Congress?
But if that isn’t enough we also have the executive branch and the power to issue executive orders.  Obamacare again provides a wealth of examples of the President not following a law the way it was written by Congress. 
And if that isn’t enough we have the issue of defining “exemptions” and “special favors”.  Was it a special favor making it so that small businesses are excluded from following Obamacare?  Is it an exemption that 50% of the nation doesn’t pay an income tax?
All I’m saying is that you and Mike need to face the realization that Congress has the power to grant special favors and exemptions.  To end/reduce crony capitalism we must reduce the value of those special favors and exemptions.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 3, 2014 - 2:18pm
Johnny - your comment:
"All I’m saying is that you and Mike need to face the realization that Congress has the power to grant special favors and exemptions."
is obvious.  All I was trying to do was offer a solution to the problem.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 3, 2014 - 4:29pm
Mike: " I think the economy is best served when whatever amount of wealth flows freely to those who can best manage it wisely."
The key word in your sentence is wisely! That's fine as long as you take wisely to mean NOT tipping the playing field in your direction so you get to scoop up some of everybody else's for yourself without having done anything else to earn it. In my view, the minute somebody starts feeling entitled because their financial and/or political power to work your buns off for nothing so they make rake in huge profits and you are left with no negotiating leverage to change that, anything we can call wisdom has gone missing.
The form this took in the former Soviet Union was labor camps. Well, in the U.S. we have a more well hidden, somewhat subtler form of forced labor. Sure, you can say they're not forced, but what's the alternative? People could refuse to work and either starve to death or suck up government money, but how wise is it to perpetuate that kind of system?
I think the key here is that too many in this country have no idea what an extractive economy versus an inclusive economy is. Although extractive is a word used for mining, drilling for oil, etc., it is also used to mean a powerful elite extracting wealth from the rest by means of pure financial and political stealth absent anything productive for the economy as a whole. We need to set things up in ways that make this very difficult in the first place and make the perpetrators pay dearly for it in the second place.
Bill Caciene Added Jun 4, 2014 - 6:34am
Robert:  Can you provide an example of me not managing my money wisely and provide your answer as to what the Government should do about it?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 4, 2014 - 7:12pm
Bill, what the heck does that question have to do with anything at all that I ever said here or elsewhere?
Johnny Fever Added Jun 4, 2014 - 8:55pm
@ Mike
Politicians will always have the ability to offer special favors; there is simply no way to legislate that power away.  However, a special favor is only as good as the regulation or tax it’s able to avoid.  So if you want to end crony capitalism of the kind Robert discusses in his post we need to eliminate regulations and/or taxes.  By way of specific example, Obamacare is a burdensome regulation that no company would purchase unless forced.  After passing Obamacare, Obama then hands out waivers for a price.  Voila…crony capitalism. 
@ Bill
I think you meant to out Robert for not defining what he means by “wisely”?  Assume with my wealth I like to go to the track and gamble on horses.  That isn’t a wise thing to do with my money.   Does Robert advocate going to the track and taking the money from me before I have a chance to gamble it?  I think once I’ve earned my wealth it’s none of Robert’s or the Government’s business what I do with it.     
Robert Wendell Added Jun 4, 2014 - 10:20pm
Johnny, your comment has nothing to do with what I meant by wisely. You folks are all alike in that regard. You think you know everything about somebody because something s/he said triggers your "liberal" labeling reflex. Then whatever they say gets processed through that lens. This is why your whole world view is so messed up. You do that with everything.
There's no objectivity possible for that kind of mindset. You do that with what the politicians you don't like say. You do that even with what you see with your own eyes. It's one of the many very undesirable qualities of the general meaning of psychological conservativism, the reflexive rejection of change, the rigidity that doesn't allow you to adapt to or even see reality. It's the same kind of conservative mindset you're seeing among the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The particular political political philosophy is irrelevant, since it's merely a product of the specific political environment, but the mindset is universal and the most common in any population.
There is a positive kind of conservatism, however. It doesn't just reflexively hang onto the past or a fictional dream of what was true of the past. It's not narrow and provincial. It doesn't try to apply a very local, parochial perspective on the big picture into which it cannot ever fit because it's too restricting. This kind of conservatism values what is good in tradition and social convention while remaining open to change, welcoming and promoting positive change.
It appreciates what's good in other cultures and doesn't try to impose everything that works in their own culture on others. It doesn't fear "otherness". It doesn't even necessarily think, for example, that democracy is something that will necessarily even work in some countries because the people aren't ready for it, much less try to impose it on them very unsuccessfully for exactly that reason.
Our founders were right that democracy requires a foundation in an accurately informed and educated  public and not a "rah, rah, rah...yay team, we're the best" mentality that reviles as unpatriotic anyone who sees flaws in our own way of life and wants us to fix them. I call this progressive conservatism. That's what I admire and encourage in people. It doesn't fit anyone's current political labeling system. Labels mask reality. You should shuck them into the toilet and flush it.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 5, 2014 - 12:33pm
Robert - your comment:
"Well, in the U.S. we have a more well hidden, somewhat subtler form of forced labor. Sure, you can say they're not forced, but what's the alternative?"
leads me to wonder how you became so cynical.  I don't care about "unfair this and that" - life isn't fair and never will be.  That's probably a good thing, because God help us all if we always got what we deserved.
To compare the USSR to the US regarding labor is ridiculous!  And this is coming from a man who's ancestors and current relatives lived under the cruelty of the Soviet Union. 
You asked "what's the alternative (to your current job status)?"  In the USSR you can't even ASK that question!  In the US you can legitimately answer that question with lots of options - go back to school, look for another job, start your own business, go to trade school, etc.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 5, 2014 - 3:37pm
Mike: "To compare the USSR to the US regarding labor is ridiculous!"
This explains a lot about how you think, or rather don't. Or is it just that you read like others here with really heavy filters on, pre-loaded with all kinds of ideas about what and how I think. In talking about forced labor I was making a point in terms of principle. I never made a comparison in degree.
Of course I know the difference in degree is absolutely enormous and there is no comparison in that sense. Nonetheless, when a competent person in a good job with good pay has to take a job that s/he doesn't like and that pays minimum wages and requires supplementation with food stamps or whatever to survive, that is a kind of forced labor, too. That was the point. Nothing else. I never compared that with living in a gulag in Siberia. For you conclude that I made such a comparison from what I wrote is nothing short of an absurd connection by random association based on the simple proximity of some of the words.
I was born into the beginning of the Cold War near the end of WWII when the Soviets refused to leave the territories they helped the allies win from the Nazis, essentially all of eastern Europe. In elementary school I had to participate in drills that taught us what to do in case of a nuclear attack. I used to listen occasionally to short wave broadcasts from Radio Moscow and personally witnessed the twisted "news" pretty much like what Putin is spewing to Russians now about what's going on in Ukraine. I also read horrid personal stories from people who had lived in Siberian forced labor camps.
You act like you think I was born yesterday and know nothing about all this. Then on that assumption and a very unhealthy dose of really bad reading comprehension you go off on this ridiculous tangent. It's par for the course, though. I've unfortunately learned to expect this from you and some others here. How can anyone whose thought processes are so messed up argue intelligently about anything except in the eyes of others who happen to agree and don't care a whit about whether there exists any kind of valid process to justify it or whether it makes any real sense at all?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 5, 2014 - 3:40pm
George, you just bought that crap, too, lock stock, and barrel? Silly beyond words!
Mike Haluska Added Jun 5, 2014 - 4:26pm
Robert - your assertion:
"when a competent person in a good job with good pay has to take a job that s/he doesn't like and that pays minimum wages and requires supplementation with food stamps or whatever to survive, that is a kind of forced labor, too."
may be misunderstood on my part.  When I read "FORCED" I take it to mean "made to cooperate against my will by threat of punishment, no alternative," .  I have personally taken work like mowing lawns, rough carpentry, construction labor when necessary to pay the bills.  I have never taken an unemployment check or food stamps and never will.  As long as there is honest work, I'll take it and say "thank you" to the boss. 
As far as "taking a job he/she doesn't like"  well boo-whoo-whoo.  My Dad started working at 14 years old, quitting school during the Great Depression to go to work at Inland Steel to help feed his family.  A strange sensation in his belly that nobody in the US today is familiar with compelled him to take ANY job the labor boss offered.  I suspect that if my Dad told the labor boss that shoveling coal is "beneath a person with my competence as a classical musician", the labor boss would have showed him the direction of the Mill Gate with the back side of his shovel.
If "Progressives" like yourself wouldn't have been successful at ruining entire industries like steel, auto, aerospace, furniture, apparel there would be high paying jobs with benefits.  But stick with the AGW crowd, Robert, so you can applaud as they wreck whatever industry is left.  Maybe you'll get a job as a propaganda jingle writer?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 5, 2014 - 7:26pm
George: "This is emoting, not a thoughtful response."
I had already addressed the point in a reply to Mike. That's why I simply responded with one sentence.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 5, 2014 - 8:21pm
Mike and George, this goes to both your comments:
This question from George: "Aren't 'has to take', which means it is the best choice available to him and he voluntarily agrees to it, and "forced" at odds with each other?"
I have a lot of trouble discriminating between "has to take" and "forced to take". Just because there may be an evil agent forcing labor out of prisoners or slaves doesn't mean that when circumstances force the labor it is not forced. You both seem to be naive about the difference between and extractive economy and a free, participatory economy.
An extreme example of an extractive economy would be a third world dictatorship propped up by a military subservient to a super-rich oligarchy. The ruling oligarchy takes huge money that is still nothing compared to the value offered, They take it from developed world corporations for allowing them to take away precious national resources that benefit only the corporations and the oligarchy. Meanwhile, the a poverty stricken general population has no choice but to provide heavy labor under unhealthy conditions for the corporations.
Surely you have both been alive long enough and are aware enough of what goes on in the world around you to know that this is an old and continuing story. If, in addition, you have any common sense, you know that this doesn't exist only in such extreme form. There are many shades in between.
When income and wealth inequality are at all-time highs as they are now, this is a symptom that some form of this is going on in our own economy as it has many times in the past. When an economy reasonably approximates natural inequality, in the aggregate most people are being rewarded in proportion to their positive contributions to the economy. I'm not talking about government financial interference. The only role I see for government in this is to outlaw the conflicts of interest that are gaming the system.
We used to have outright slavery and it was even legalized. We still have human trafficking, but of course it is not legal. This doesn't mean there aren't many forms of mild, but technically legal slavery that circumstances permit some people to exploit. Some of them game the system to generate favorable circumstances for this kind of exploitation. Whenever you or others object to this kind of talk, you drag out your economic idealism and describe a world that doesn't exist. Sure, it should work the way you say it does, but it doesn't.
I've worked hard jobs in my life. I've been down and dirty to survive. It's not always fun, but I did it. I've done everything from working for painting contractors to cleaning barns to loading long haul trailers for most of the major trucking companies. I even sailed for Inland Steel on the Great Lakes as a merchant seaman. I've been around and know what real work is.
Mike, I notice you ignored the "conservative" in my "progressive conservatism" category that I said I admire and only took the prejudicial term and whacked me with that. This is sophistry when you take something like that out of context and pretend it's real. You play dirty. Don't be a jerk.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 5, 2014 - 9:52pm
George: "In the meantime, please explain how Joe, the poor guy making the best choice he can of all those available to him, is harmed by an offer for a job, i.e., one more choice added to the array.  It is simply not possible.  If he is in a bad situation and "must" accept it, this means that the existence of this offer has made him better off than otherwise....and thus has improved his economic situation."
This is such a good example of a severely myopic perspective. Who and what caused the situation that made that the best choice for him? You ignore that? You only look at one silly, tiny, local piece of the picture and pretend that takes care of the whole situation. You people are a waste of time because you can't see the forest for the trees. Pinheaded views of the world simply don't work. Neither of you seems capable of anything else, so forget it.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 6, 2014 - 12:08am
"Admittedly, it is difficult to reason people out of positions they didn't use reason to attain." - Craig Anderton
Robert Wendell Added Jun 8, 2014 - 11:46pm
George, I took the quote as a rebuttal of what I've said. In that context, it is indeed myopic, since it ignores the conditions that have forced him to take this offer as his only option or at least one among similar such options.
Quoting you, George: "If he is in a bad situation and 'must' accept it, this means that the existence of this offer has made him better off than otherwise....and thus has improved his economic situation."
That was indeed the premise behind my statements, so please don't ignore that, since it is an essential component of the argument. Some people really don't have a choice between anything but similarly insufficient and deficient options and ending up on the street. The question is why people who are willing to work should ever have to face such a situation.
Why should this ever happen when many of those who employ such people are rich beyond virtually any historical precedent except outright slavery precisely because so many are forced to accept such low wages? This is a legal but nevertheless subtler, milder form of economic slavery. I've given you examples of situations in third world countries that are more extreme yet legal. Their extreme nature doesn't alter in the least that they only differ in degree and not in kind.
The principle remains the same. Is that too abstract for you? Even your reply simply repeats the extremely provincial take you have on this. Rather than looking beyond the immediate reality of the hired person's options, you completely ignore the larger economic and political realities that put him/her in this situation, a situation that so severely limits options that the employee's economic survival is threatened despite having a job. This should have been clear already from my previous posts, so you have given me no reason whatsoever to rescind my assessment of those who think with such limited scope.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 12, 2014 - 9:12pm
George - this fraud is the most self-important ego maniac I have ever come across.  He sees anyone with a different view or God forbid - a strong counter to his arguments as weak-minded, inferior and lazy.  He probably read my post on people getting sucked in by Eugenics and thought "what's wrong with Eugenics?"  He is so narcissistic there is a photo of him next to the word "narcissist" in the dictionary.  Anyone who writes an article "How well can you reason?" is crying to be the poster child for Narcissists Anonymous.  Wendell really believes he is the sole authority on determining whether another person can reason effectively.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2014 - 12:56am
Mike, you are the authority on whether you can reason effectively. You just open your mouth and quite spontaneously the sad truth about that comes tumbling right out.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2014 - 1:02am
Folks, just go read Mike's comments under his article The Real Danger of Confusing Consensus With Science and under mine, AGW (Human-Caused Global Warming), and you will see for yourself.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2014 - 10:38am
I think I'm going to write an article on why those afflicted with thoughtless rigidity hate hard data and valid logic. It upsets their apple cart. They hate this especially deeply when you cite references that name the fallacy and describe it in detail with examples that precisely parallel their fallacy.
They don't ever really answer your replies in any direct, honest way. They just get very angry. They want to think their opinion, no matter how zany, irrational, and ignorant, is just as good as yours. Of course, if you think otherwise, that makes you a narcissistic egomaniac.
Mike Haluska Added Jun 13, 2014 - 11:45am
No, Robert - I didn't make you a narcissistic egomaniac.  You were that way when I first encountered you.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 14, 2014 - 11:42am
Uh, duh, OK, Mike. You're absolutely right about everything you think, logic and facts to the contrary notwithstanding. Hope it makes you lots of unthinking, blindly supportive, conservative friends.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 3, 2015 - 1:36am
Robert S. said, "I just read #3 again and it made no mention of “natural inequality”.  So I didn’t read into what you said, I responded to exactly what you said."
That's true only if you read it completely out of the context provided in the points before and after it. These points were intended to communicate ideas that cannot be stated in a single sentence. It would be nice if you would attempt to hold more than one idea in your head at a time. I wouldn't be so sharp with you if you weren't so stubbornly isolating number 3 as if it had nothing to do with the other points. That makes no sense in any context. You can't solve for two unknowns with single equation. You need two equations you have to solve simultaneously if you want the correct answer.

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