Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bringing back feudalism -- is libertarianism an unwitting tool?

== Those helping feudalism return - unwittingly ==

ElevenQuestionR.J. Eskow - on Salon - offers "11 Questions to see if Libertarians are Hypocrites."  And yes, most of Eskow's posers certainly do set up some stark and thought-provoking contradictions - even hypocrisies - in the oft-touted positions held by many who today use the "L-word" to describe themselves. The article is well-worth reading and it does skewer especially those who bow in obeisance to Ayn Rand, the patron saint of resentful ingrates who want desperately to blame society for being  under-achievers. And yet…

…and yet Eskow wound up inciting the contrarian in me, with his blatant straw-manning -- setting up the reader to assume that all "libertarians" are lapel-grabbing, solipsistic randians.  Moreover, indeed, he tells flagrant untruths even about randians. Elsewhere I have dissected the Cult of Ayn far more carefully, actually looking carefully at her messages on many levels. Eskow wants only a caricature and a punching bag.

He ignores, for example the randians' admission that government should retain a monopoly on force and should be involved also in the enforcement of all contracts, not just copyright. Not entire-anarchism, indeed, it retains what's necessary for the ultimate randian outcome -- a return to feudalism -- to have real teeth. Eskow should know his enemy better.

(Note that I use Eskow's method of asking questions in what I hope is a much more neutral and thorough way, in my Questionnaire on Ideology, that encourages folks to re-examine many of their own underlying assumptions; take it if you dare!")

In fact, Eskow ignores other strands to libertarianism that include the erudite versions of William F. Buckley and Friedrich Hayek, who denounced the randian obsession with demigods as a guaranteed route to feudalism.  Hayek, in particular, extolled a level playing field that maximizes the number of competitors and avoids a narrow ruling-owner caste. Indeed, there are some versions of libertarianism that I consider to be entirely justified  -- the moderate versions offered to us by authors who range from Kurt Vonnegut to Adam Smith, from Robert Heinlein to Ray Bradbury...

...a version under which one is willing to negotiate and see a successful State that does good and useful things by general consensus and assent, but always with an emphasis on doing useful things that wind up empowering the individual to go his or her own, creative way. In other words, judging state actions (even skeptically) by a standard that is high, but allows us to work together on some valuable things that help us to then grow as we choose.

I could go on and on about that aspect of things; but instead I will simply offer a link to a far more cogent appraisal of this important thread of human political discourse, one that - alas - has been hijacked by oversimplifying fools who wind up parroting fox-fed nostrums and serve as tools for the very oligarchy that aims to tear down every remnant of freedom. (See: Maps, Models and Visions of Tomorrow.)

DefendingFreeEnterpriseIndeed, the name you'll never hear randians mention… and alas the same holds true of the oversimplifying straw-manner Eskow… is Adam Smith, whose version of libertarianism adults still look to, from time to time.  A version that admires and promotes individualism and the stunning power of human competition, but also recognizes that competitive-creative markets and democracy and science only achieve their wondrous positive sum games when carefully regulated… the way soccer or football must be, lest the strongest just form one team and stomp every potential rival flat and then gouge out their eyes… which is exactly what winner-owner-oligarch-lords did in every human culture for 6000 years.  Till Adam Smith came along and described how to get the good outcomes without the bad.

The stealing of Adam Smith's movement by fanatics and cynically manipulative oligarchs is not just a tragedy for the right, and for market capitalism.  It is tragic for civilization.

==  Those seeking feudalism KNOWINGLY ==

Here is the fundamental political fact of our times, amid phase three of the American Civil War.  The gulf between the richest 1% of the USA and the rest of the country got to its widest level in history last year.

The top 1% of earners in the U.S. pulled in 19.3% of total household income in 2012, which is their biggest slice of total income in more than 100 years, according to a an analysis by economists at the University of California.

Also, the top 1% of earnings posted 86% real income growth between 1993 and 2000. Meanwhile, the real income growth of the bottom 99% of earnings rose 6.6%.

One-Percent-WealthThe richest Americans haven't claimed this large of a slice of total wealth since 1927, when the group claimed 18.7%. Just before the Great Crash and Great Depression... so much for the notion that Oligarchy assures prosperity and good management.  In contrast, the flattest American society -- just after FDR -- featured the longest boom, the most vigorous startup entrepreneurship, the fastest-rising middle class... and all of it with labor unions and high marginal tax rates.

The penultimate irony?  That the ones complaining about this are called "anti-capitalists" when the fair and productive-creative, entrepreneurial capitalism prescribed by Adam Smith is the top VICTIM of wealth and income inequality. Across 6000 years of human history, the enemy of open markets and freedom was always owner-oligarchy. The blame for this can be spread widely! Those liberals who ignore the "first liberal" Adam Smith are almost as foolish as the dullard right wingers who are helping to restore feudalism.

Book-Review-The-Greatest-Generation-by-Tom-BrokawThe greatest irony?  The people who are bringing all of this about claim to adore the "Greatest Generation" - our parents and grandparents who overcame the Depression and crushed Hitler and contained communism and started a hugely successful worldwide boom under protection of the American Pax... and got us to the moon and invented so many cool things that we got rich enough to go on a buying spree that made every export driven nation prosperous.

Funny thing.  That Greatest Generation adored Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the flat-but-dynamically entrepreneurial society that he and they built together.  Oh, but they were the fools and Rupert Murdoch knows so... so much better.

== So what is to be done? ==

Left-wingers who blame "capitalism" for our recent messes should replace the word with "cheaters."  At risk of belaboring a point that must be reiterated because people keep blinking past it: I consider healthy "Smithian" capitalism to be one of the top five VICTIMS of the malignantly incompetent rule of the recent US GOP.  There are no outcome metrics of national health under which the Republican Party's tenure in command did not wreak harm on the people of the United States, especially upon the middle class, upon human civilization and upon healthy capitalism… and the spinning ghosts of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley.

So let's try some simple reforms.  Fierce measures to stop interlocking directorships and the circle-jerk of 5000 golf buddies appointing each other onto each others' boards, then voting each other staggering "wages" -  it is a criminal conspiracy that not only has stolen billions but runs diametrically opposite to the entire notion of competitive enterprise.

1- If capitalism works, then these high CEO wages should be attracting brilliant talent from elsewhere, till demand meets supply and the wages fall. They are in effect calling themselves irreplaceable "mutant geniuses" like NBA basketball players... only with this blatant rub. The top NBA players are fiercely measured by statistics!  The mutant-good CEOs are only "good" by the flimsiest of arm-waving by… their pals.

2- Critics of socialism cite Hayek and proclaim that, no matter how smart a set of top-down allocators are, they will be foolish simply because their numbers are few.  Now it happens that I agree! History does show that narrow castes of "allocators" do inevitably perform poorly. (The Chinese have done well... so far... but at spectacular environmental cost and corruption. And we know the inevitable end-game.)

So, how are 5,000 conniving, back-room-dealing, circle-jerking, self-interested golf buddies intrinsically better allocators than say 500,000 skilled, educated, closely-watched and reciprocally competitive civil servants?  Both groups suffer from delusional in-group-think.  But the smaller clade - more secretive, self-serving, inward-looking and uncriticized - is inherently more likely to fail.  Claiming that they are better allocators because they are "private" and secretively collusive is just religious litany, refuted by 6000 years of horrific oligarchic rule.

Return-To-CapitalismWe deserve and should demand a return to a capitalism that is more about creative-new goods and services than manipulation of imaginary financial "assets." Colluding cartels, like the caste of 5,000 CEO-director golf buddies must be broken up.  If you are a senior officer of a company, you should be disallowed to sit on any boards, anywhere, for anything. And anti-trust laws that served our parents well should resume being enforced.

The same goes double for an even worse cartel of cheaters... the casrtel of "seated members" of stock and commodities and equities exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ.  These blatant conspiratorial clubs violate every conceivable standard of fairness and competition, charging commissions to you and me while freely engaging in hundreds of billions of Hight Frequency Trading actions themselves, at zero friction or cost. In this electronic era there is no reason any of us should have to use such intermediaries to sell shares to others. The scam is a lamprey-vampire drain on the economy that should be reformed or eliminated. (And mind you, HFT is an existential threat to civilization, in its own right.)

LawrenceLessigTEDThere are dozens of other possible reforms, especially Lawrence Lessig's proposals to get the tsunamis of money out of politics and my own judo approaches to getting around gerrymandering.  

But above all we need to minister to our libertarian cousins, calmly drawing them away from Mad Murray and Alienation Ayn, getting them to realise that capitalism is not being helped by the rising oligarchs. It is being killed by them. Libertarians should re-enlist in the League of Adam Smith, and help restore the system to health, lest socialism rise again.  As it surely will, if this goes on. 

Follow-up: The economy, Past, Present and Future 
                    Politics for the Twenty-first Century

== The central battleground - the War on Science ==

In The New York Times, Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, offers a moving missive, Welcome to the Age of Denial, about  how his long career never prepared him for a 21st Century in which so many of his fellow citizens are actively hostile to science.  He winds up agreeing with my own conclusion, that his is not normal give and take, but something akin to civil war, and that pro-science part of our civilization must take on the responsibility of militancy against waves of roomy-cynical nostalgia… and not all of it from the mad right.

And... because this is the central battle field of culture war...

== Blues and Greens - waking up and getting active ==

UnknownNext Step in Climate Change Activism, a Cross Country March! Six months from now, 1,000 people will set out from Los Angeles to walk 2,980 miles across America to Washington, DC, on the Great March for Climate Action.  The march will inspire and motivate average people to pressure political and business leaders to act now to address the climate crisis. The GMCA will be the largest coast-to-coast march in U.S. history.

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom we are reminded that all movements must reach a moment of critical mass, when the call for change becomes powerful enough to shift public policy. We believe the size and scope of the Great March for Climate Action will be a vital next step. The March will start in Los Angeles on March 1, 2014, reach Phoenix in early April, Denver in early June, Omaha in late July, Chicago in early September, Pittsburgh in October and Washington DC on November 1. Marchers will walk 14-15 miles per day and camp in a mobile green village which will demonstrate sustainable technologies to feed and provide support services for the marchers.

Hey, we can only accomplish so much bywrangling at sites like this one, at the extreme intellectual end of things. There comes a point (as the French aristocrats learned after their dismal greed and obstinacy) when this goes down to the countryside.  To the streets.

-- David Brin: Website: http://www.davidbrin.com
                        Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidBrin

112 comments:

Robert said...

Last night I had a discussion with my father. During this discussion I found a simple and actually tragic mindset behind the return of the Oligarchy. It's cynicism.

I was commenting on something overheard on the TV about the squandering of money (in my opinion) by rich people and he said "it's their money. They can do with it as they want." When I pointed out that that money was going to waste and that it could be better used building new businesses he turned around and said "you can only run so many businesses. You'd need to delegate responsibility, and then you risk having a con artist coming in and deliberately running the company into the ground because that is how he makes his money. Meanwhile, all the people who got jobs at the new business lose everything and the rich person is poorer. It's better for the rich person to spend a million dollars to fly to a remote part of Alaska to go fishing or to build and own a multimillion dollar yacht he only uses a couple days a year because people make a living catering to those rich people. And it's better than them sitting on the money instead."

So. Rather than build multiple businesses... it's better to spend money on luxuries that are rarely used because you might by chance have someone with a lack of business ethics run the company and deliberately bankrupt it. That's the mindset of my dad... and very likely other people who are in their 60s and 70s.

Rob H.

Giuseppe Regalzi said...

David, have you read Mariana Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths? Looks interesting (here).

Alex Tolley said...

So, how are 5,000 conniving, back-room-dealing, circle-jerking, self-interested golf buddies intrinsically better allocators than say 500,000 skilled, educated, closely-watched and reciprocally competitive civil servants?

Because they have changing wealth outcomes to guide their success or failure Increased wealth = better allocation, and vice versa?

Even if we got rid of the "cheaters", I doubt much would differ. What needs to change is how the social compact is organized.

Pareto optimization of the distribution of wealth in an economy says little about how steep the graph needs to be, and nothing about how the social system should organize itself.

Alex Tolley said...

@Rob - so your father doesn't even see the rich man may be the con artist as well?

This seems to be similar to the argument that only rich people have the money to create business and jobs, so don't tax them. The logical result is a monarch who owns everything, and by his grace, can reward his serfs.

It seems to me that the wealthy are quite mindful of what happens in extremis and are actively ensuring that their "castles" will be well protected by militarized police cleverly paid for by the public, not their own purse.

Alex Tolley said...

If you are a senior officer of a company, you should be disallowed to sit on any boards, anywhere, for anything.

I agree in principle, but how would you handle the details?

For example - you own the majority shares of several companies. Should you be barred from being on the BoDs of the companies you own as chairperson, as well as being the CEO? Granted this is an unlikely case in large, public companies.

But should you even be allowed to have friends, politicians, cronies on your board? Should public servants, even ex public servants be allowed to profit from lucrative board memberships (let alone huge public speaking fees)? And if you did enforce the ban, how easy would it be to circumvent it with proxies for appearences?



Anonymous said...

First, I have not met a single libertarian who did not believe that government was necessary to assure fairness in the markets. I have heard libertarians make the same arguments about Boards of Directors. "Free market" does not mean anarchy. So, you are falling into the same straw man trap.
Second, the hight tax rates of the late 40s and 50s were directed at repaying war debt. They only affected about 250 people in the country. More important, the prosperity of those years pre-date the entitlement culture that began in the 60s. Also, a large part of that prosperity came from manufacturing when much of the manufacturing of the industrialized world had been decimated by WWII. You can't just point at the tax rates of the time and draw a correlation with prosperity. There was a lot more going on.
Third, you are quick to point the finger at the GOP, but somehow ignore the same cronyism of the Dems that is on par or exceeds that of the GOP. The so-called stimulus package, thousands of exemptions from Obamacare.
Fourth, actual statistics and experience are proving the AGW models to be wrong, e.g. no significant increase in surface temps over the past 15 years despite significant increases in so-called greenhouse gasses. BTW, in the U.S. emissions have declined because of market forces, not government intervention.
Finally, your own reference to the 50s does not support the idea a bunch of bureaucrats can direct the economy better than private enterprise. Bureaucrats do not lose their jobs, much less their shirts, if they get it wrong.

Unsalted Sinner said...

Having discussed these things with followers of Ayn Rand, I find it's quite an impressive feat of doublethink that allows Randroids to overlook the fact that their policies would inevitably lead, not to meritocracy, but aristocracy. Even if you grant the dubious proposition that the first generation of Galtian supermen actually earned their wealth and power through skill and hard work, that argument obviously breaks down when it comes to the children of this tiny elite. If you really wanted a true meritocracy, you would in fact have to resort to draconian measures to ensure equal opportunities for all. Inheritance would have to be banned, and children would have to be taken from their parents and raised by public institutions which treated them all equally, no matter who their parents were. Not exactly the Utopia libertarians favour...

Alex Tolley said...

actual statistics and experience are proving the AGW models to be wrong, e.g. no significant increase in surface temps over the past 15 years despite significant increases in so-called greenhouse gasses.

Nonsense. The data is very clear that temperatures have been rising and continue to rise. Couple that this actual effects - glacier melts, Arctic sea summer ice declines, lengthening growing seasons, etc, and teh effect is very clear.

U.S. emissions have declined because of market forces, not government intervention.

And what would they be? Cheap methane, production moving offshore, coal exports to be burned elsewhere? The US has done very little to increase energy efficiency or support alternative energy production.

You really are in the anti-science camp, aren't you?

You can't just point at the tax rates of the time and draw a correlation with prosperity. There was a lot more going on.

Correct. There were strong unions, GI bills just to name 2 other distributive effects. The systematic change in US laws to weaken labor and strengthen capital is fairly well known. If you are old enough to have lived through these implementations, denial of them is a lot harder.

Tracy Hall said...

Re: Rich spending money: they should be required to spend the money - an economy is defined by the circulation of money, not the creation and hoarding of it.

Think back to the small town of old: the wealthy accumulated wealth, and spent it - such as on a new bigger home - which required materials, crafts, craftsmen, employees, etc etc. Part of what's broken our structure is that the "wealthy" are far from where they gather the wealth (think Walmart family) - their purchases no longer circulate locally.

So: require the wealthy to *spend*. Alright, there are subtleties - but the basis is sound.

David Brin said...

Anonymous... perhaps two of the assertions that you flung had any basis in fact, whatsoever. The rest of them were not just assertions but incantations designed to make you feel good and ignore the fact that today's american right has gone stark jibbering insane.

I am glad the assertions and incantations allow you to feel happy. I congratulate you on the effectiveness of mantras that enable you to stay loyal to a cause that has driven away from it nearly all scientists and other professionals, from teachers and doctors to journalists to professors, law professionals, you name it.

All the smart folks have fled the GOP... except the public relations gurus who brought us "tobacco is harmless" and "cars don't cause smog"... and now "ignore science! Nothing is happening to the atmosphere!" They are the SAME guys spinning your incantations!

Enjoy em. Too bad we can't. We see through them.

ZarPaulus said...

Personally I'm thinking that fractions of corporations should not be treated like commodities, rather they should be awarded to employees for performance.

David Brin said...

Tracy Hall you are part right. During recession/depression you want economic activity and hi velocity money which is why most of the stimulus should have gone to the poor and middle class and bankers should have been allowed to tank. But dig it, during times of hi inflation, a case CAN be made for low-velocity money that cools as it leaves circulation. The rich are very good at that.

Carl M. said...

The greatest irony is that the so-called liberals are wildly in favor of even greater subsidies to Capital at the expense of Labor. It's called "Fiscal Stimulus."

Deficit spending is to Capital what USDA subsidies are to agriculture.

Abundant capital with respect to labor = higher labor rates. It's in the Wealth of Nations.

Carl M. said...

Another bit to contemplate: the European social democracies have higher effective tariff rates via their VAT taxes.

Here in this country, if you buy local, the government taxes the labor of the workers who made the product (income, FICA and Medicare) and taxes the profits of the corporation and its owners. Buy foreign and you might pay some tariffs, which last I calculated are less than 6% of total imports.

In Europe both local and foreign products get VAT taxed. Exports out of the EU get their VAT taxes rebated. This is how they keep their unionized auto factories open.

Randy Winn said...

"...Deficit spending is to Capital what USDA subsidies are to agriculture...."

I'm sure how hiring 100,000 cops or teachers affects Capital one way or the other. If deficits go to wages, perhaps some of it is spent on stuff that "trickles up" to Capital, but the important point is that not all deficit spending is alike.


Ed Seedhouse said...

"First, I have not met a single libertarian who did not believe that government was necessary to assure fairness in the markets. I have heard libertarians make the same arguments about Boards of Directors."

The fact that you have not met them is not evidence that they do not exist. And you accuse David of logical fallacies!

Oakden said...

Sorry, anyone who still accepts the voodoo science of global warming alarmism as real loses all credibility

LarryHart said...

Randy Winn:

"...Deficit spending is to Capital what USDA subsidies are to agriculture...."

I'm sure how hiring 100,000 cops or teachers affects Capital one way or the other.


I can't speak directly for Carl, but I THINK he meant that deficit spending equals government borrowing equals interest owed to capital.

Amy Sterling Casil said...

>>Third, you are quick to point the finger at the GOP, but somehow ignore the same cronyism of the Dems that is on par or exceeds that of the GOP. The so-called stimulus package, thousands of exemptions from Obamacare.>>

The 25 individuals believed to be responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis (certainly "cheaters") had all charges brought against them quietly dropped in February, 2009. The amount of "wealth transfer" seen in the past five years is curiously similar to the amount of funds authorized under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) - i.e. the "stimulus." I do not know what would be preferable except "anything but this."

LarryHart said...

Unsalted Sinner:

Even if you grant the dubious proposition that the first generation of Galtian supermen actually earned their wealth and power through skill and hard work, that argument obviously breaks down when it comes to the children of this tiny elite.


This is discussd somewhat in the comments section of the earlier Ayn Rand post that Dr Brin linked to in the main post.

My own take (which is slightly different from Dr Brin's) is that Ayn Rand deliberatly ignores the inevitability of age and death of her heroes, and the subsequent necessity of reproduction. She simply ignores that aspect of human existence and essentially writes adolescent adventure fiction which can say "THE END" while the heroes are in the prime of their productive lives, as if they have taken their natural place and will thenceforth occupy that place forever.

Which is fine and dandy for an adolescent fiction novel (and I have even enjoyed "Atlas Shrugged" on that level), but does NOT make for what "Atlas Shrugged" is given credit for being--an instruction manual on how human beings should conduct their lives and civilizations.

Amy Sterling Casil said...

"So, how are 5,000 conniving, back-room-dealing, circle-jerking, self-interested golf buddies intrinsically better allocators than say 500,000 skilled, educated, closely-watched and reciprocally competitive civil servants?"

This equation has added elements that are not present in real life, specifically, "skilled, educated, and closely-watched ..." also "civil" and "servants."

The US government is presently borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Here in California it can easily be seen that any new funds received are instantly re-allocated for whatever, to whomever, whenever, recognizing that debt service is eating up greater and greater proportions of budgets each year.

I'm not saying the international financiers who hold the notes payable for these excesses are all that "smart." Someone asks them for money; they give it. Under prior circumstances, they had a certainty of repayment plus their interest "earned."

We have slowed our economy to a crawl. Meanwhile our betters up north continue to forge ahead one step at a time. They are the "socialists." What are we? Fat, lazy, stupid fools.

The original article David is wasting his brilliance commenting on is appalling even by low Salon standards. I have no hesitation in calling the man a drooling fool.

Gary said...

"Sorry, anyone who still accepts the voodoo science of global warming alarmism as real loses all credibility"

Anyone who believes that has lost all credibility.

LarryHart said...

Amy Sterling Castill:

We have slowed our economy to a crawl. Meanwhile our betters up north continue to forge ahead one step at a time. They are the "socialists." What are we?


Republicans. :)


Fat, lazy, stupid fools.


must...not...swing...at...easy...ones...

andrew said...

Dr. Brin, I think that if you look at scholarship by political scientist Corey Robin on the history of the modern Right, you'll find that Hayek and Buckley were only distanced from today's right-wing lunatics only in style rather than substance.

Gary said...

Although I like Amy her ideology is making her exaggerate.

Amount of debt payments - 33% is not 40% and it is one party that is mainly responsible for preventing that from going down. We were scheduled to have no deficit financing now but Dubya and is Wall Street advisors pushed through two massive tax cuts and financed two major wars with debt.

David Brin said...

Andrew, I do not claim Buckley was RIGHT a lot. I claim that he was a courteous adult who loved actual argument and was capable of negotiation. In fact, I disagreed with him about most things. But his style of conservatism was basically sane, and vastly more preferable than today's.

Oakden and Gary, there is one telling difference. 99% of the smartest people alive -- scientists - despise Oakden's point of view. In order to maintain it, he must repeat incantations - like the one he offered us - in lieu of thought.

Tony Fisk said...

Voodoo science is an oxymoron and it certainly is incredible that anyone would believe it.

I opt for the real variety.

Hmm! David, are you dropping hints about what you're doing next spring?

locumranch said...

Let's discuss the hypocrisy of underlying assumptions for the moment.

There are some people who try to separate near identical concepts into distinct categories, lionizing one while demonizing the other, even though the separation between these two categories is entirely arbitrary.

As if they can possess one without the other, they sing praises to competition (the struggle for dominance) but they disparage the prerequisite for competition known as aggression. They cheer for those competitors who achieve dominance; they expect the dominant to become meek & submissive in victory; and they condemn those victors who attempt to consolidate their advantage indefinitely.

It follows that the pursuit of oligarchy is a competitive 'good' (Musk, Gates, Jobs) but the perpetuation of oligarchy (Koch, Murdock) is anti-competitive and therefore 'bad'. Likewise, unions are 'bad' in the sense that they are anti-competitive but 'good' in the sense that they prevent the perpetuation of oligarchy through competitive means. Blah blah blah.

Never use a few words when many will suffice and always say the opposite of what you mean.


Best.

locumranch said...

That last bit was too sarcastic even for my standards. Instead of beating around the income disparity bush, David should have the courage to say what he means. Here's the cure for oligarchy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mCgbyvb9uw OR

http://www.woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/Union_Maid.htm

Best

Tony Fisk said...

(Meanwhile, downunder...)

Hey! Abbott has announced his new ministry. Was worried a climate denialist (Dennis Emerson) was going to get the Science Ministry, but he didn't.

Nobody did. Bit of a trick question that... there would appear to be.. *no* Science Ministry. (possibly because we're open for... *business*!)

Prakash said...

Unsalted Sinner,

I spent a few minutes thinking about how a non-transhumanist randian might do it. One answer can be a matching inheritance instead of a straight inheritance.

(Warning : all below speculation is assuming honest foundation members. How to keep them honest is an open problem)

The person who is passing on can give his wealth to a foundation which has the following charter. Provide a matching amount for every dollar earned by the descendant. If he wanted to reward wealth earned, instead of income earned, then it could be based on total amount of wealth held in his trading account, paid out at greater intervals. This matching amount need not be 1:1, it could be any multiple or any fraction the progenitor chooses.

Total aristocracy against a total meritocracy is an unnecessary dilemma. It is possible to have solutions inbetween the 2.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just something completely different

Are you guys following the Americas Cup?

These big catamarans are flying

Liddle0Oldman said...

My fast-and-dirty metaphor on capatalism -- capital is like heat. You have to gather enough of it into one place to get any worl out of it.

occam's comic said...

Hi David,

There is a very interesting blog (Strong Towns Blog) that is trying to find ways to deal with the biggest problem / predicament that almost all local communities are facing:
The revenue collected by local government does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the local infrastructure over its lifetime.

The Strong Town Folks have interesting ways of presenting the problem to different folks (Conservatives, libertarians, progressives)

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013/8/12/strong-towns-for-conservatives.html

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013/8/20/strong-towns-for-libertarians.html

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013/8/28/strong-towns-for-progressives.html

Edit_XYZ said...

Good news about global warming:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324549004579067532485712464.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet

Robert said...

Try telling Colorado that some side effects of global warming won't be damaging, as they are hit with flooding like they've not seen in quite some time. My father (who doesn't believe in global warming) has told me while hunting that I'm "lucky" because the weather is milder than it was when he went years back and that we've not seen a lot of storms while out there (usually they wait to chase us out of the state).

It's idiocy to claim even a "mild" change in weather will not have significant detrimental effects. Given the Wall Street Journal's a Climate Denial Bastion, I cannot see their article in the glowing light you suggest. And even if the maximum rise is only 5.5 degrees Celsius, that's still enough to render regions of the planet uninhabitable to humans without widescale air conditioning (and heaven help anyone in an equatorial city that suffers a significant power outage during the hottest time of year).

Rob H.

Randy Winn said...

"...deficit spending equals government borrowing equals interest owed to capital...."

Is the point is something to do with the Fed lending money to private parties for almost nothing, and them then buying up Federal debt for guaranteed income? I sure would like a piece of that scam myself!

But the problem with that is not deficit spending per se, but the crazy policies that allow it. Surely one could think of a better procedure.

David Brin said...

I have long felt the method used by the Fed to stimulate has many scam aspects. Part of it should be done at the bureau of engraving. Simply print more $100 bills and send them to poor people. It would enter rapid circulation.

All right. Use it to pay them to clean neighborhoods, patrol schools, read to kids, dig ditches.

LarryHart said...

Randy Winn:

"...deficit spending equals government borrowing equals interest owed to capital...."

Is the point is something to do with the Fed lending money to private parties for almost nothing, and them then buying up Federal debt for guaranteed income? ...

But the problem with that is not deficit spending per se, but the crazy policies that allow it. Surely one could think of a better procedure.


No, it's both simple and structural.

If the government deficit-spends (for whatever reason), it is by definition borrowing money and (therefore) promising to pay that money back with interest. That's a windfall for whoever is doing the lending. In other words, for "capital".

At least I THINK that's what Carl was getting at.

LarryHart said...

Liddle0Oldman:

My fast-and-dirty metaphor on capatalism -- capital is like heat. You have to gather enough of it into one place to get any [work] out of it.


I've maintained for a few years that "trickle-down" is not a good metaphor for how money flows. Rather than being like water which naturally flows from high to low, money is more like the heat in your oven, which flows from bottom to top.

If you infuse heat into the system (oven) at the bottom, the heat rises to the top, and in the process does work (cooking the turkey or whatever is in there) in the process. If you infuse heat at the top, it just stays up there and doesn't do anything useful.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many readers of Eskow's snark (even if they didn't see through his many distortions and outright lies) got to his last "question" and thought to ask themselves:

"Why - if libertarianism has been completely discredited for decades - is this guy so scared of it that he feels the need to spend all this time and effort attempting to discredit it?"

David Brin said...

Anonymous, for all of Eskow's faults, he gets that last part right. We must discredit the current, jibbering-loco versions of libertarianism so that there will be a chance to win attention back to the saner version that go back to Adam Smith and the basics of market economics and freedom.

We NEED that sane version back at the bargaining table of American life. We need it to be there for the tens of millions of decent American conservatives who can see the GOP is crazy and are looking for another home.

Gary Johnson tried hard to make the LP that home and I sent him money. But too many Americans have met the goggle-eyed lapel-grabbing androids and are reluctant to leap from the pit of crazy they know, into a pit of crazy they don't.

Unlike Eskow, I have a lot of sympathy for some kinds of libertarianism and no one touts Adam Smith more than I do. (I once gave a keynote at an LP convention!)

I am saddened to see such a potentially important thread of american discourse discredited by utter lunacy. We can hope someday folks will snap out of the fever.

Edit_XYZ said...

"Robert said...
Try telling Colorado that some side effects of global warming won't be damaging, as they are hit with flooding like they've not seen in quite some time. My father (who doesn't believe in global warming) has told me while hunting that I'm "lucky" because the weather is milder than it was when he went years back and that we've not seen a lot of storms while out there (usually they wait to chase us out of the state).

It's idiocy to claim even a "mild" change in weather will not have significant detrimental effects. Given the Wall Street Journal's a Climate Denial Bastion, I cannot see their article in the glowing light you suggest. And even if the maximum rise is only 5.5 degrees Celsius, that's still enough to render regions of the planet uninhabitable to humans without widescale air conditioning (and heaven help anyone in an equatorial city that suffers a significant power outage during the hottest time of year)."

Robert, what you've just posted is scaremongering and propaganda rather than scientific fact.
Unlike the article, which is based on the 2007 and the forthcoming IPCC reports - you can't get more scientifically accurate than that.

BTW, as per IPCC's 2007 report, the most probable value for global warming was 3 degrees. And this estimate will go down in the forthcoming report (as in, it won't be even near 5,5 degrees).
Also, extreme weather events are not correlated with the global warming to any significant degree. Google "Accumulated Cyclonic Energy" for graphs.
Finally, beneficial effects of global warming (such as increased agricultural productivity, making wide areas near the poles amenable to human habitation) outweigh the negatives (really? increased temperature in an equatorial city? that's your negative?).

Tim H. said...

The greens do have that element of "Worst case scenario, inc." about them, caring little about crisis fatigue. On the bright side, we might see some low carbon, no carbon energy infrastructure funded, and there's a possibility that the worst case extrapolations won't be used as justification for vile social Darwinism, even given the low opinion the .1% have about ordinary folks.

Robert said...

I'm not scare-mongering. I believe in preparing for the worse-case scenario. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with weaning us off of hydrocarbon-based fuels and onto renewable energy sources? Let's take the airline industry as an example. Airlines are losing money and are being forced to merge so that they can remain viable. This is due in part to significant price hikes in aviation fuel.

You know this is a problem because the U.S. Air Force is researching biofuels for use with their jets. If the U.S. Military sees a problem with the cost of fuel and the fact that a lot of our fuel comes from overseas, then perhaps there is a problem here.

So, if we can "grow" our own fuel using algae-based fuels (which can have production boosted by injecting carbon dioxide from carbon-capture facilities) then not only do we reduce our reliance on foreign fuel, but we also create a new business. And the smart airlines will have partnerships with these biofuel groups so that their fuel is predominantly from these sources... and not subject to price hikes due to little conflicts in the Middle East.

If the price of oil crashes because of alternative fuels, suddenly you will see Russia, the Middle East, and Venezuela suddenly losing any effective power as their money dries up. The Middle Eastern tycoons will likely weather the storm as they've been seeing the stormclouds forming and have bought land in the U.S. - likely the Russian tycoons will as well. Latin America will probably drown in blood as a new wave of revolutions occur and the governments down there resort to violence to keep the populace under control.

See what I mean about worse-case scenarios? ;)

We KNOW humans can't survive above a certain temperature in humid regions. We can't cool off via sweating and thus people literally die of heat exhaustion and the like. If the temperature as a result of fossil fuel burning reaches that point, you'll see an exodus from those regions, which will cause war and widespread suffering. All because we couldn't get our collective heads out of our collective asses and actually listen to the scientists - sort of a human version of the ant and the cricket.

Rob H.

Erik M. said...

May I ask, what do you think are the most credible, scientific, reliable news sources?

Edit_XYZ said...

"Robert said...
I'm not scare-mongering. I believe in preparing for the worse-case scenario. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with weaning us off of hydrocarbon-based fuels and onto renewable energy sources?[...]"

First - you ARE SCARE-MONGERING.

As per the 2007 IPCC report, the scenarios that predicted an increase in temperature above 3 degrees were based on really 'out there' assumptions.
But that doesn't prevent you from crying 'the world is ending!' - without even thinking to mention that the scenarios you hyperbolise are all but excluded; or that the consequences predicted by even these scenarios are far milder than what you're advocating.

Of course - that's far from the only disingenuous hyperbola you're using. Let's take this, for example:
"We KNOW humans can't survive above a certain temperature in humid regions."
Do name these 'certain temperatures' - and how they compare to the probable increase of temperature due to global warming.


Second - you use such pernicious hyperbolas to motivate your radical green requests.
That's disingenuous.
And it's extremely harmful - getting rid of hydrocarbon-based energy sources will be of little comfort to the billions bankrupted by the massive sums of money spend on this endeavor.
This VERY high cost on human prosperity is 'what the hell is wrong' with it.
Such a cost in human prosperity and wealth cannot be justified by anything less that catastrophic climate change (the utterly unsupported wet dream of radical greens - nature taking its revenge on the 'cancer upon the Earth' human race).

matthew said...

Here is a nice debunking of the "new IPCC report means that GCC is not nearly as bad " meme. on Slate tl;dr is that the time range for a slowdown is 16 years while the baseline is 50 years. Apples to oranges.

And reputable news source? NPR, The Guardian, McClatchy are the closest. Anyone not owned by an oil baron is a good start. Someone that still has an ombudsman working publicly. A news source that is not too cozy with power, either commercial or governmental.

Oh, and welcome to the new voices here. You will notice that it considered polite to back up opinion with a few cited facts. Have fun.

Randy Winn said...

"@LarryHart ...
That's a windfall for whoever is doing the lending. In other words, for "capital"."


Hrm. No.

If you are doing something useful for a fair price, it's not a "windfall", subsidy or unearned benefit at all. It's simply doing business.

That applies whether what you're doing is lending money or digging ditches.

Now Carl's not discussing this point so I guess it doesn't matter, but let's not condemn lenders per se. Deficit spending opens up business opportunities to them but if it's at the fair, competitive market rate then what's the problem? At least it puts the hoarded capital into circulation and not incidentally employs cops and school teachers.

Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
Here is a nice debunking of the "new IPCC report means that GCC is not nearly as bad " meme. on Slate tl;dr is that the time range for a slowdown is 16 years while the baseline is 50 years. Apples to oranges.

And reputable news source? NPR, The Guardian, McClatchy are the closest. Anyone not owned by an oil baron is a good start. Someone that still has an ombudsman working publicly. A news source that is not too cozy with power, either commercial or governmental."

So - figures from IPCC reports are less credible than "reputable" news sources (that don't include anything even close to peer review)?
Cute.
Look up what exactly the article you linked to refuted. And try not to appeals to authority in the future.

matthew said...

It is an article explaining the IPCC report to the less scientifically-minded, not an appeal to a higher authority. I note that you have not posted any peer research. The only article I have seen posted to support your "Whew! The IPCC just said that climate change is no problem"-type attitude is from the Wall Street Journal. Try again, this time with some facts that do not come from Rupert Murdoch

Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
It is an article explaining the IPCC report to the less scientifically-minded, not an appeal to a higher authority. I note that you have not posted any peer research. The only article I have seen posted to support your "Whew! The IPCC just said that climate change is no problem"-type attitude is from the Wall Street Journal. Try again, this time with some facts that do not come from Rupert Murdoch"


Apparently, you didn't read this - and see the numbers therein:
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_synthesis_report.htm
To think I thought this link would be unnecessary.

And the article I already gave a link to:
http://rationaloptimist.com/blog/dialling-back-the-alarm-on-climate-change.aspx
This is supposed to contain no scientific facts?
Ah, of course - just write 'Rupert Murdoch' and pretend the figures from the IPCC are not there - when they contradict your religion, yes, matthew?

But wait - you also posted 'reputable news sources' and an article that did not refute the facts I posted - and this makes it all right.

locumranch said...

Edit_XYZ has caught on: Scare-mongering is what it is all about.

Scare-mongering is used to sell everything from newspapers & college to insurance & climate change. This is called PMT or 'Protection Motivation Theory'. The product (of good or dubious quality) is relatively immaterial. What is material is the elicitation of the desired emotional response (fear), leading to the petrification of rational thought processes so the target demographic will respond like thoughtless lemmings.

Saddam 'Lions' Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction, Syrian 'Tigers' have Poison Gas & the North Korean 'Bears' are aiming missiles at us (Oh My !!) so react emotionally already, goddammit, before you THINK and realize that the First World 'We' already possess all of these scary technologies & more.

A heavy snow year, a nice rain or a bumper crop yield? Doesn't disprove Global Warming (oops, I mean Climate Change) but droughts in the Western US (historic deserts) followed floods in New Jersey & New Orleans (historic swamps) provide Absolute 'Sky is Falling' CC confirmation, assuming you possess the memory & intellect of a squirrel.

Also, the truth of the Climate Change Hypothesis is beside the point because these things (food security, energy, conservation, clean air & water) are 'Things We Ought to be Doing Anyway' (TWODA), says David who, like the people who sell you junk food, breast implants, WW3 & TWODA, is just looking out for the Thoughtless Masses who have been rendered thoughtless by the PMT Fear Machine.


Best

Tim H. said...

Junking all the carbon-based energy infrastructure and replacing it in quickly would be ruinously expensive, but we don't have to, for not that large a fraction of what we blow on making smoking holes in the ground every year, the energy infrastructure could be transformed in maybe two generations. For less than the price of one F-35, we could find out if Bussard's riff on the Farnsworth fusor works full size. For less than we spent the last several years in Iraq, we could have built a space-based solar power satellite, the thing is, greener doesn't have to mean poorer.

matthew said...

Now we get another article by Matt Ridley? Posting a link to the blog of the guy that wrote the WSJ editorial as proof that the WSJ editorial is true? Nice circular reasoning. I'll file it under the circular file.

Here's a link to some Matt Ridley debunking from his past posts. Skeptical Science on Matt Ridley's writings

Now, let us examine Mr. Ridley's thesis that GCC will actually help the world. From the article you posted -"A more immediately relevant measure of likely warming has also come down: "transient climate response" (TCR)—the actual temperature change expected from a doubling of carbon dioxide about 70 years from now, without the delayed effects that come in the next century. The new report will say that this change is "likely" to be 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius and "extremely unlikely" to be greater than 3 degrees. This again is lower than when last estimated in 2007 ("very likely" warming of 1 to 3 degrees Celsius, based on models, or 1 to 3.5 degrees, based on observational studies).

Most experts believe that warming of less than 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels will result in no net economic and ecological damage. Therefore, the new report is effectively saying (based on the middle of the range of the IPCC's emissions scenarios) that there is a better than 50-50 chance that by 2083, the benefits of climate change will still outweigh the harm.

Warming of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius over the next 70 years (0.8 degrees have already occurred), most of which is predicted to happen in cold areas in winter and at night, would extend the range of farming further north, improve crop yields, slightly increase rainfall (especially in arid areas), enhance forest growth and cut winter deaths (which far exceed summer deaths in most places). Increased carbon dioxide levels also have caused and will continue to cause an increase in the growth rates of crops and the greening of the Earth—because plants grow faster and need less water when carbon dioxide concentrations are higher."

Notice how the temperature rise goes from 1 to 2.5C to 2C to 1.2C in these paragraphs? Hmm, a red flag - changing the endpoint downward as he goes. Furthermore, do you note, shall we say, a First World Bias, in his thesis that changing temperatures will benefit the world? Where does the majority of the world population live?
How about this handwaving of increased northern latitude of food production? Do you think that perhaps the southern edge of food production might move northward too? Could we see any problems with this?

Edit_XYZ said...

Tom H.

Liquid fluoride thorium fission reactors are proven and a very efficient energy source with an ecologically footprint far smaller than the 'renewable' energy sources or the carbon ones (which, while not obligatory in the sense that 'the world will end' otherwise, is desirable).

We don't need to make a fusion reactor which generates more energy than it consumes or to solve the problem of transmitting energy from orbit to ground to renew the energy infrastructure.

But, as you said, too, it should happen gradually - not at the cost of the prosperity and wealth of humankind.

Randy Winn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
Now we get another article by Matt Ridley? Posting a link to the blog of the guy that wrote the WSJ editorial as proof that the WSJ editorial is true? Nice circular reasoning. I'll file it under the circular file."

Unbelievable.
matthew, it's THE SAME ARTICLE for both links (as I even expressly mentioned in my latest post addressed to you)! You didn't even bother to read the article I posted before you came with your 'reputable news sources' and your religious propaganda?
You have no right to accuse me or anyone else of intellectual dishonesty.

BTW, about the values M Ridley gives to the temperature - see the contexts relative to the margins of error and the probabilities given by the IPCC report (the latest one will be out on 27 september).

Randy Winn said...

@Edit_XYZ makes excellent points.
Among the "beneficial impacts of global warming" would be the flooding of the city of Miami whose porous underlayer makes seawalls kind of pointless.

Rather than drone on drearily about Coastal cities face $1 trillion floods by 2050 let us reflect on the good side: cleaning up waterfronts around the world! Tis an ill wind that blows no good - and just THINK of the economic stimulus!

P.S. Mr. XYZ may I recommend you avoid linking to the actual IPCC study? Because although your careful cherrypicking from it may be sweet, it does not really support your overall point.

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...
P.S. Mr. XYZ may I recommend you avoid linking to the actual IPCC study? Because although your careful cherrypicking from it may be sweet, it does not really support your overall point."

I beg to differ. Feel free to point where the IPCC report does not 'really' support my point.

matthew said...

I got David Rose and Matt Ridley mixed up in my debunking. Mea Culpa.

But both are making the same claims about the same data set. The Slate article debunks Matt R. just as well as David Rose.

I'll just get right down to quoting now, from Slate - "I can't resist. I have to point out one more thing, because it's become such a common denier claim it really needs some disinfectant sprayed on it. About the IPCC report:

They recognise the global warming ‘pause’ first reported by The Mail on Sunday last year is real – and concede that their computer models did not predict it. But they cannot explain why world average temperatures have not shown any statistically significant increase since 1997.
Actually, yes, it can be explained. The extra heat is going into the deep oceans, and not the surface of the land. This is actually pretty well understood, as Skeptical Science points out (and check the links listed there for lots more info as well). This whole claim that the Earth hasn’t warmed over the past 16 years is utter bilge. Surface temperatures over land haven’t gone up much, but that’s not the only or even the best way to measure the amount of warming. There’s a lot of planet out there that isn’t land. Ignoring the oceans is just plain wrong."

Randy Winn said...

@Edit_XYZ said...
Feel free to point where the IPCC report does not 'really' support my point."

Table SPM.2 (on page 11) for example directly contradicts your that " beneficial effects of global warming (such as increased agricultural productivity, making wide areas near the poles amenable to human habitation) outweigh the negatives (really? increased temperature in an equatorial city? that's your negative?)".

However I *do* note your math-free suggestion that loss of crops in the tropics can be made up for by increasing crops in higher latitudes. Are you therefore proposing massive immigration from Brazil and Central America to our American Midwest?

I'm glad to see global warming deniers welcome immigration from the tropics!

Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
I got David Rose and Matt Ridley mixed up in my debunking. Mea Culpa.

But both are making the same claims about the same data set. The Slate article debunks Matt R. just as well as David Rose."

The same claims? Really? You still have to catch up on your reading, matthew.

You can be sure the forthcoming IPCC report took into account the oceans absorbing heat.

matthew said...

Nope Edit, I read both. They are both making the same point from the same data set. And it is BS. 85% propaganda with 15% nit-picking and changing of definitions. BS bought and paid for by folks with very short-scale goals.

A personal question. Are you willing to bet your life, livelihood, and (theoretical, I don't know diddly about you) progeny on the 1% of scientists that support your position - that of GCC being beneficial to the world? Or that it is a hoax made up by grant-hungry researchers? Just how much skin do you have in the game? I have progeny. I live in one of those northern areas that stands to gain with GCC, according to the writings you are boosting. I am not sanguine about my childrens' future in the face of a world of refugees. How about you?

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...
@Edit_XYZ said...
Feel free to point where the IPCC report does not 'really' support my point."

Table SPM.2 (on page 11) for example directly contradicts your that " beneficial effects of global warming (such as increased agricultural productivity, making wide areas near the poles amenable to human habitation) outweigh the negatives (really? increased temperature in an equatorial city? that's your negative?)".

However I *do* note your math-free suggestion that loss of crops in the tropics can be made up for by increasing crops in higher latitudes. Are you therefore proposing massive immigration from Brazil and Central America to our American Midwest?"

First - you talk about 'math-free'? After attacking the necessarily non-mathematical prediction I made - by comparing it with the unexplained prediction on the IPCC report; unexplained, especially considering the same report showed increased precipitation, less cold weather, more carbon dioxide, etc?

On the other hand, I see you haven't touched the numbers I quoted from the IPCC report. Not cherry-picked enough for you, eh?

"I'm glad to see global warming deniers welcome immigration from the tropics!"

'global warming deniers'? Really?
So, you're resorting to false ad personams now.

Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
Nope Edit, I read both. They are both making the same point from the same data set. And it is BS. 85% propaganda with 15% nit-picking and changing of definitions. BS bought and paid for by folks with very short-scale goals."

Do you even have a single fact to support your religion?
Like the numbers from the IPCC reports being incorrect - or somehow cherry-picked -, for example?

Beyond unsupported "BS" and conspiracy theories?
Or improbable hypotheticals - btw, your children will curse you if you actually succeed in your radical green agenda and reduce their standard of living to early 19th century.

Randy Winn said...

@@Edit_XYZ said...
... you talk about 'math-free'?

Yes. Your claim that "X is bigger than Y" was not accompanied by any math to support it. You're welcome!

"... you haven't touched the numbers I quoted from the IPCC report...."

So? Does that make your math-free argument about crops any less math-free?

"I'm glad to see global warming deniers welcome immigration from the tropics!"
'global warming deniers'? Really?
So, you're resorting to false ad personams now.


... but I am PRAISING you! If that is offensive, well, ok, I apologize for implying you might be open-minded on immigration. Perhaps it's just that you haven't thought through the implications of your stance.

Actually, I'm a little unsure as to your stance. You seem to be saying that there will be some global warming but that it will all be o.k. So you don't want to be called a "Global Warming Denier" but rather a "Global Warming Pangloss".

Feel better now?

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...
@@Edit_XYZ said...
... you talk about 'math-free'?

Yes. Your claim that "X is bigger than Y" was not accompanied by any math to support it. You're welcome!"

Much like 2007 IPCC's prediction you're enamoured with was not accompanied by any math to support it (I suspect it referred to the improbable scenarios predicting increases in temperature of ~4 degrees or more).

""... you haven't touched the numbers I quoted from the IPCC report...."
So? Does that make your math-free argument about crops any less math-free?"

No more - or less - math-free than the 2007 IPCC argument about crops.

And far more supported than the 2007 IPCC report:
Considering the forthcoming 2013 IPCC report will put the TCR as "likely" to be 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
And UNFCCC's conclusion that "a global warming of less than 2.5°C could have no significant effect on overall food production"

""I'm glad to see global warming deniers welcome immigration from the tropics!"
'global warming deniers'? Really?
So, you're resorting to false ad personams now."

Actually, I'm a little unsure as to your stance. You seem to be saying that there will be some global warming but that it will all be o.k. So you don't want to be called a "Global Warming Denier" but rather a "Global Warming Pangloss"."

'Pangloss' refers to unwarranted optimism. My optimism is supported by the facts - as available today.
Unlike your apocalyptic 'the world will end! repent!'

matthew said...

Golly, my "radical green agenda taking [my children's standard of living] back to the early 19th century?
Listen Mr. Edit, you do not know a damn thing about my agenda, except for that I disagree with your point of view about GCC.

I am a *scientist*. I am a goddamned engineer. I am conservative when it comes to the idea of our terraforming our own planet.

You have shown yourself to be willing to use shoddy data (see my point about changing goalposts in Mr. Ridley's piece). You are going on and on about the IPCC report, which has a very different set of conclusions than those you are trying to sell here. You are resorting to name calling and strawmanning (see the "radical green agenda" comment you made above).

You have been given the benefit of doubt - that you have something of value to add to a debate. For me, at least, for the reasons above, that benefit of the doubt has been removed.

Randy Winn said...

OK, I call Poe.

@Edit_XYZ responded to my statement that his claim on crop yield was unaccompanied by any math with:

"...Much like 2007 IPCC's prediction..."

Now this is both irrelevant (whether the IPCC used math does not tend to prove whether XYZ did) and untrue (the IPCC used math.) A genuine disputant may accidentally introduce an untruth or may nondeliberately employ an irrelevancy (...especially in the pursuit of humor ...) but to do both at once is the sure sign of parody ...

... or else a misapprehension that this is how science works.

Edit_XYZ said...

"matthew said...
Golly, my "radical green agenda taking [my children's standard of living] back to the early 19th century?
Listen Mr. Edit, you do not know a damn thing about my agenda, except for that I disagree with your point of view about GCC."

You made your agenda quite clear - either that, or you're really, REALLY misinformed about what a radical green revolution/change implies.

"I am a *scientist*. I am a goddamned engineer."

Considering your previous posts, this statement of yours doesn't convince me: you're far too dogmatically-minded, as opposed to scientifically-minded.

"You have shown yourself to be willing to use shoddy data (see my point about changing goalposts in Mr. Ridley's piece)."

Really? I actually even responded to this (again, see the use of 'likely', 'very likely', the margin of error implicit in scientific works - in the IPCC reports and in M Ridley's article).
Of course, you ignored this.

"You are resorting to name calling and strawmanning (see the "radical green agenda" comment you made above)."

See my first comment of this post.

"You have been given the benefit of doubt - that you have something of value to add to a debate. For me, at least, for the reasons above, that benefit of the doubt has been removed."

To be frank, I had little hope that you'll add anything of value to the debate since your first posts on the subject - too much religious-like faith, little or no supporting facts.

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...
OK, I call Poe.
@Edit_XYZ responded to my statement that his claim on crop yield was unaccompanied by any math with:
"...Much like 2007 IPCC's prediction..."
Now this is both irrelevant (whether the IPCC used math does not tend to prove whether XYZ did) and untrue (the IPCC used math.)"

1 show the math this prediction from the 2007 IPCC report is based on. Or link to it, etc.

2 it is quite relevant - no math being used makes IPCC's 2007 prediction (in addition to being obsolete, as per the first reveals from the 2013 IPCC report) also unproven.

As for my prediction - I posted what I base it on, mr, selective quoting:
Considering the forthcoming 2013 IPCC report will put the TCR as "likely" to be 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
And UNFCCC's conclusion that "a global warming of less than 2.5°C could have no significant effect on overall food production". The link: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/climate_change_information_kit/items/288.php

In addition to these - the basic facts that more CO2, more water, more warmth encourages plant growth.

PS - again, you only discuss predictions that are not math based. I still await you showing how I cherry-picked the figures from the IPCC reports - as you said I did.

Randy Winn said...

@Edit_XYZ said...
""...it is quite relevant..."

Man: An argument isn't just contradiction.

@Edit_XYZ: It can be.

Man: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

@Edit_XYZ: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.

@Edit_XYZ: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.

Man: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'

@Edit_XYZ: Yes it is!

Man: No it isn't!

Man: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

(short pause)

@Edit_XYZ: No it isn't.

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...[..random gibberish..]"

So - you have no arguments left and you just posted gibberish. What a bad joke. I see how your position is "supported" by the facts,

BTW - I still await you showing how I cherry-picked the figures from the IPCC reports - as you said I did. And how the 2007 IPCC report mathematically proved its 'huge decrease in crop yield' prediction.
As you said I - and the IPCC - did.

Randy Winn said...

@Edit_XYZ said...
"....you just posted gibberish."

LOL. No. I posted a quote from a famous work which you would do well to try to understand. If possible.

You can continue to "gainsay" whatever anyone here posts, but you have well established what you are up to, Mr. Poe.

Meanwhile, in reality: "Crab Industry In Danger"

David Brin said...

Guys! Amid your debate, have a look at:

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/17/the_most_depressing_discovery_about_the_brain_ever_partner/

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...
@Edit_XYZ said...
"....you just posted gibberish."
LOL. No. I posted a quote from a famous work which you would do well to try to understand. If possible."

Within the context of this thread, what you posted is random gibberish, mr. trying to miss the point.

Still no facts to support your faith-based position, I see. Nor you showing how I cherry-picked the numbers, etc.

Randy Winn said...

Doc - that's a fine summary ( at http://www.salon.com/2013/09/17/the_most_depressing_discovery_about_the_brain_ever_partner/ ) and it illustrates why I have reverted to humor.

In my observation, many internet "arguments" with deniers of all types (AGW, 911 troofers, Iraq-had-WMDs) boil down to an increasingly desperate attempt to avoid the feeling of admitting they are wrong. If facts are completely against the proposition asserted, deniers simply change the question to something else.

Above, I questioned using IPCC data to sustain the proposition that AGW would increase crop yields. And in fact there is no argument that the IPCC data does any such thing; instead, the denier (or AGW Pangloss) proposes that IPCC does not use math. Or something.

When discussions get to that point, all one can do is laugh.

Edit_XYZ said...

"Randy Winn said...[...]
Above, I questioned using IPCC data to sustain the proposition that AGW would increase crop yields. And in fact there is no argument that the IPCC data does any such thing; instead, the denier (or AGW Pangloss) proposes that IPCC does not use math. Or something.

When discussions get to that point, all one can do is laugh."

So - misrepresenting what I said in my posts; wilfully using straw-men, etc.
Still no facts to support your assertions. What's the hold-up? I asked for them 3 posts ago.

Your post contains a double irony - little do you realise you're the one ignoring the facts with your faith-based dogma and your latest posts are laugh-worthy.

Alex Tolley said...

@DB
Couple your reference with this one Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth that suggests that we have brains evolved to persuade rather that find the truth. One can see it in action is the AGW discussion on this thread.

While political bias may make math harder, at least we have the method to understand the truth in that paper, and perhaps what we need are better ways to keep bias out of our thoughts while doing the math. In a sense, the psych paper does this - mask the data in a non group identity way (skin cream and rashes), have everyone agree on the analysis method, then expose the real data. It isn't perfect, but it may help defuse preconceived ideas if it isn't used as a deceptive trick.

David Brin said...

Alex, scientific processes train scientists to REDUCE the influence of such factors... and then to grit their teeth and pay attention when others point out their errors.

Alex Tolley said...

@DB - Practicing scientists unfortunately are a small minority of the population, and even amongst this specialized group, I have observed bias. But as you have pointed out before, science is usually a self correcting process to reach the truth. It probably is a good idea not to be emotionally vested in a particular theory.

Students with STEM degrees seem to leave their training behind when dealing with real world problems. I just wish the scientific process could be embedded more strongly. (I have read that humanities students are BETTER than STEM students at critical thinking skills).

Cultural norms and group identity can make cognitive dissonance actually painful. No wonder we have mechanisms, like denial, to reduce it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
When discussing global warming I have one question

In the "prehistorical" record have there been any occasions when current levels of CO2 have co-existed with icecaps on the poles?

As far as I am aware the answer is NO

This means that if we maintain the current CO2 levels we will (over a period) melt the icecaps

This will require the relocation of ~ 70%?? of humanity and its infrastructure

This means that we will HAVE TO do some Geo-engineering to drop CO2 levels or otherwise reduce received energy

That is going to be EXPENSIVE

Randy Winn said...

@Edit_XYZ said...
"....misrepresenting what I said in my posts"

Wait wait wait. Are you now saying that the IPCC report does NOT support your claim that AGW will result in a net increase in crop yields?

If so: ok. You'd be right. It does not.

---
"...Still no facts to support your assertions..."

Please scroll up a bit to where I cited Table SPM.2 - and linked to it. That's not just one "fact" but a whole table of them.

Now you may argue that Table SPM.2 is *wrong* - perhaps the IPCC scientists don't know how to do math or something. But you can't say that it provides support for your proposition that the net impact of AGW would be to increase crop yields.

---

You don't have to change you mind - you can keep insisting that AGW will result in a next increase in crop yields - but you cannot say that the IPCC report supports your position.

And if it doesn't --- why do you trust it on on matter but not on another?

Randy Winn said...

@Alex Tolley said...
"It probably is a good idea not to be emotionally vested in a particular theory."

While you were talking about scientific theories, it seems to me that your advice applies to legal argumentation as well. A lawyer is trained to argue both sides of any proposition, and this may have the side-effect of professional fidelity to none of them. Half of the time you lose anyway so it's a good idea to be able to separate your self of self worth from any particular legal argument (...not to mention the likelihood that maintaining detachment helps you evaluate your chances of success.)

In contrast, the political and religious realms seem to require exceptionally strong emotional commitments to their theories. The ability to keep faith in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence is a positive virtue!

(Sports fans occupy a netherworld between science and religion/politics. Belief that the Seahawks will win a Superbowl used to require a titanic exercise of faith contrary to evidence, but this season will be different. Surely!)

Tony Fisk said...

Edit_XYZ is basing his argument on the preliminary assessment of the IPCC report which, predictably, the Limited News is using to hammer the idea that reduced estimates in temperature rises means that 'IPCC got it wrong'. (I mean to say, even they admit it! Who'd trust idiots who get it wrong?)

Here's a response from some of those same IPCC contributors.

Good news that the preliminary estimates are lower, but it's not hugely lower, and there's a significant margin of error.

Also good news they're getting a better handle on where all that missing heat energy is going, for now (that's what admitting to error is about)

stone said...

David Brin, good post. I'm thinking that fractions of corporations should not be treated like commodities.

Paul451 said...

Preserved adult brain from a '70s mental hospital has no folds and ridges on (or of) its cerebral cortex. Unfortunately the patient records were lost (along with those of another 100 preserved brains) so researchers can only guess the symptoms (other than "survived to adulthood.")

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929340.100-is-this-the-most-extraordinary-human-brain-ever-seen.html

Includes a picture of the smooth brain in question.

matthew said...

And this is why the trundles will most probably roll through our own streets. In our lifetimes. The single-most inexcusable, disheartening article I've read all week. From Forbes It's time for the 99% to Give Back to the 1%

David Brin said...

Matthew it's "tumbrels" and yes, alas, we will likely become re-familiarized with the term. The Koch boys seem to be daring us all.

Alex Tolley said...

@matthew - Harry Binswanger has gone completely off the deep end. Forbes has always been supportive of the wealthy, especially after Malcolm died and Steve took over. But this article is just...extraordinary.

As Krugnan has said, not only do the wealthy want more, they don't like any hint of disrespect either.

I feel like I should be tugging my forelock already - if I still had one. Maybe I should buy a cloth cap?

matthew said...

@ "tumbrels" Interesting, Doc. I'd never noticed the etymology before. Thanks for the correction.

"Tumbrel" - an open cart that tilted backward to empty out its load, in particular one used to convey condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

"Trundle" - (with reference to a wheeled vehicle or its occupants) move or cause to move slowly and heavily, typically in a noisy or uneven way.

I have a bad habit of reading similar words as each other. My wife corrects me a lot. This is one that I hadn't caught yet.

And it looks like the Forbes article is getting a lot of play on social media. I've seen it several times today. Expect more of this as it is no doubt increasing the clicks over there.

Robert said...

So. How long do you think it'll take for massive gun-control legislation to be passed by Republicans if a gunman storms one of the Koch households and kills a bunch of people there including one of the Koch Brothers?

They ARE daring another French Revolution, after all....

Rob H., who is speculating in the classic "what if" scenario of writers, and not agitating the deaths of any human beings.

David Brin said...

I find the one thing that gives gun guys sudden pause is to explain to them that no major legislation will pass except say assault rifles or background checks and there is no "slippery slope" for one simple reason. Under Bush liberals started arming themselves.

That makes them pause, blink... and gulp.

The exact parallel is 1856 in the North where folks got sick and tired of irregular southern cavalry raiding from Illinois to Pennsylvania and began re-starting and drilling their militias.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

So. How long do you think it'll take for massive gun-control legislation to be passed by Republicans if a gunman storms one of the Koch households and kills a bunch of people there including one of the Koch Brothers?

They ARE daring another French Revolution, after all.


I was thinking something similar when the news hit yesterday. Not so much a private household, but someone shooting up a CPAC meeting or an RNC fundraiser. Or maybe an NRA gathering.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Matthew it's "tumbrels" and yes, alas, we will likely become re-familiarized with the term. The Koch boys seem to be daring us all.


I re-read "A Tale of Two Cities" every five years or so, and each time it seems more relevant.

I used to think we were headed for a new American Revolution, but the powerful seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening, not realizing (or not caring) that the only alternative is a new French Revolution instead.

LarryHart said...

From the evil Forbes article:

Each particular individual in the community who contributed to a man’s rise to wealth was paid at the time–either materially or, as in the case of parents and friends, spiritually. There is no debt to discharge. There is nothing to give back, because there was nothing taken away.


Nothing except the land, the water, the breathable air, the food, basically everything individuals need to support life. The 1% claim all that as their "property" now, and require the rest of us to deal with THEM for our right to live.

It grates at my liberal sensibilities not to empathize and see the other's point of view, but in spite of myself and the way I like to view my character, I'm learning to HATE.

LarryHart said...

From the article again:

Instead, we live in a culture where Goldman Sachs is smeared as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” That’s for the sin of successful investing, channeling savings to their most productive uses, instead of wasting them on government boondoggles like Solyndra and bridges to nowhere.


Really? Goldman Sachs is a crator of value? Not a thief of value?


There is indeed a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity: ...

And Ayn Rand is just the lady who can do it.


Heh. Ok, I know that was a low blow, but so what?

Jonathan S. said...

Rush recorded this song back in 1975, but it seems far more relevant today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekoxIb85rww

locumranch said...

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/17/the_most_depressing_discovery_about_the_brain_ever_partner/

Cute article but hardly news, previously documented by the Stoics, Skeptics & Empiricists, that logic and rationality are easily corrupted by partiality, desire, passion & emotionality, hence the importance of 'emotional distance' & impartiality in any and all scientific endeavours.

Regardless of the ramifications of Worst Case Scenarios like Climate Change, Polar Shifts or extinction level events, the truth or falsity of any hypothesis is NOT important.

Only the FACTS count. Hypotheses are DESIGNED to be discarded on the basis of objective & reproducible observation. Facts come first and theory comes second. To argue otherwise is sheer folly.

When the data conflicts with the current theory, then that theory is said to be false. When supported by evidentiary data, then we say that that theory is trustworthy, treowe or true, a type of truth which should NEVER be confused with absolute certainty.

And, people, Climate Change is just a theory. It is a good theory, to be sure, but it should be treated with the appropriate level of indifference. Otherwise, it becomes infallible, an article of faith, a religion rather than science.




Best.

Tony Fisk said...

Climate change is a theory, of course.

One that's pretty robust, and one with consequences. That's why it generates a bit more emotional steam than dark matter, for instance.

Travc said...

David, at the risk of annoying you again and being a bit pedantic...

I don't think the word "capitalism" means what you think it means.
The OED defines Capitalism as:
an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Private owners controlling trade and industry for profit. At least without some other qualifier added to it, capitalism is pretty much the "aspiring aristocrats and lords have already won" situation.

Given that we've had over half a century of more-or-less Orwellian attempts to re-brand capitalism as everything good and light (as opposed evil communism), using the word incorrectly is pretty understandable.

What I think we both want is a market-oriented mixed economy. I'd go a bit farther and add "with a robust but limited financial system."
"Free enterprise" isn't a bad term either.

Capitalism, by my understanding and I'd argue a plain reading of the word (CAPITALism), is a pretty vile system where control is in the hands of those who own the capital resources. Of course, that power will be used to accumulate more unless there is a countervailing force.

BTW: Feudalism is arguably one of those countervailing forces which can control the capitalistic concentration of power. The lords/aristocrats didn't own their lands and serfs (the capital of the day), they were given control of them by the sovereign. The acquisition of additional lands was limited to by the crown, and the crown naturally didn't want any particular lord to become too powerful. Sovereigns checked each other's power.

Travc said...

Re: Climate change being a theory...

You might also want to point out that there is no such thing as a "fact" scientifically speaking. There is observed data of course, but even that isn't taken on faith.

I'd actually call "climate change" a hypothesis. Do we observe the climate changing or is it statistically indistinguishable from whatever baseline (say 200 to 150 years ago)... The answer is yes, we do see it changing.

Anthropogenic Climate Change is more of a theory in my book. It provides a more comprehensive explanatory/predictive model. Increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gasses trapping solar radiation and therefore causing an increased overall (net) temperature and generally more energetic weather.

BTW: "Laws" don't outrank theories. A law is a simple empirically deduced relationship between things (like masses and the force of gravity). Also, laws only hold over a limited range of conditions. Even the law of universal gravitation isn't actually universal (or precisely correct for that matter).

Of course, there is a lot of variation in how these terms end up being used. Historical names holding on and stuff like that. But I'm just "generally speaking".

LarryHart said...

In a cooler frame of mind this morning about Forbes...

The writer of that article has...difficulty...distinguishing betweeen two very different things.

Someone who actually does produce enormous wealth (where it didn't exist before) and gets rich in the process has the right to that wealth. And I think most Americans would be happy for him and many would aspire to be him in the future.

OTOH, someone who acquires wealth by cornering the market on essentials that the rest of us have no choice but to "bargain" for or die? Not at all the same thing.

The author makes the same mistake Ayn Rand does, to begin with the proposition that "If you HAVE wealth, then you properly EARNED that wealth" and draw all sorts of conclusions from that faulty premise.

matthew said...

David, I think your "Not giving mass killers what they want" meme is catching on.
Least I Could Do webcomic

David Brin said...

Travc, sorry but you are clueless. Even though the OED snippet you selected oversimplifies the hard work of Smith and Marx and so many others, even so, it does not mean what you think it means. Capitalism even by that definition can be about highly dispersed and fluid ownership or else highly consolidated and sclerotic ownership. The latter is what happens when oligarchy takes root and you have seen me inveigh against it…

…but you fail to note that the dispersed, diverse, fluid version that empowers the maximum number of agile participants is exactly what even the Austrian School folks like F. Hayek call the "best" form. Adam Smith denounced the oligarchic version as one more type of dismal feudalism, denying and repressing all the good that can come from a vigorously competitive entrepreneurial market.

Have you ever read Marx? He describes the "contradictions" of capitalism and how markets CAN only move from agile to sclerotic. The US repeatedly proved him wrong by taking his progression and re-setting it, both with the Progressive Era reforms of 1901 etc and the Rooseveltean reforms, and with the mostly-social reforms of our lifetime (civil rights etc.) Such a reset is desperately needed now! But not impossible. Though Marx thought it was and this time he might prove right.

Sorry, your paean to feudalism is silly. The guys with swords took what they wanted and chopped head when peasnats objected.,

Mel Baker said...

Now the latest climate change denialist argument is that it won't warm that much. It's akin to be utterly thrilled when the doctor says "it's only stage 3 lung cancer, not stage 4 as we originally thought!"

So that's it, that's your argument for blasting those of us concerned about this issue, it isn't THAT bad?

Anyone who made an argument in which they've had to reluctantly and angrily back away from total denial to "not that bad" would be laughed out of a High School debating class.

LarryHart said...

Mel Baker:

Anyone who made an argument in which they've had to reluctantly and angrily back away from total denial to "not that bad" would be laughed out of a High School debating class.


Wait until they get to "We said there was climate change all along (duh!). We just don't think fossil fuels are to blame."

Inevitably dovetailing toward "We (Republicans) have been trying to fix climate change for years, but the Democrats kept obstructing our efforts."

Tony Fisk said...

I'm currently doing a Coursera unit on Climate Change, partly because it's run by University of Melbourne, and features ex-fellow postgraduate Prof. David Jamieson.

Stuff I've learned so far (ranges from 'Duh!' to 'Ah...!'):

On effect:
- 'greenhouse' gases are those with more than 2 atoms in their molecular makeup
- N2 and O2 are not greenhouse gases for this reason
- greenhouse gases can absorb IR energy radiated from ground by 'wobbling' (Ok 'twerking' if you *must*...!)
- absorbed energy is re-emitted in all directions, rather than back into space, so it hangs around in the system for longer.
- H20 is dominant greenhouse gas, causing ~30degrees warming. (otherwise av. global temp. would be -15C, by simple blackbody calculations)
- atmospheric H2O concentration is saturated, but increasing temperature will increase concentration.
- CO2 causes warming of a degree or so, *but* this effect is magnified ~6x as it allows H2O concentrations to increase.

As to cause:
- atmospheric CO2 is increasing
- atmospheric O2 is decreasing at same rate => combustion
- C14 isotopes are created in atmosphere by cosmic rays striking N14
- C14 has a half-life of a couple of thousand years.
- C14 does not occur in underground carbon sources as it will have decayed away in less than a million years (volcanoes, or fossil fuels)
- atmospheric C14 concentrations are dropping ie: amount is the same, but *not* increasing with CO2 levels => extra carbon is sourced from underground (not eg burning vegetation, but fossil fuels, or volcanoes)
- Plants preferentially absorb C12 over C13
- observed C13 concentrations in atmospheric CO2 are dropping => carbon source has less C13 => carbon source is fossil fuels rather than vulcanism.

While on isotopes...
- O16 and O18 are naturally occurring, and stable.
- O18, in water (H2O18), being heavier, tends to evaporate less readily and condense more easily.
- This means O18 is less common in polar regions, since weather transport systems leaves it at the equator.
- The effect is dependent on temperature (the warmer conditions are, the more O18 can migrate)
- historical concentrations of CO2 and O16-18 abundances can be measured from ice cores.
- this allows a calibration graph to be created mapping CO2 concentrations (driver) vs O16-18 ratios => atmospheric temperature (effect)
- Graph suggests that CO2 concentrations of 400ppm => temperature that is 6 degrees warmer than at present.
- Graph is defined by best fit mechanisms from a lot of data points, but still has a lot of uncertainty in it.
- This is one of many techniques used to gauge temperature effects

Here endeth the lesson. I hope people find it informative (there are a couple of items I had not been aware of). I doubt it will convince anyone, though. Too rational.

Travc said...

David,
For someone who proudly takes the title of "contrarian", you certainly react poorly to being contradicted. By dismissively and, from my POV, insultingly jumping to the conclusion that I am "clueless", you are missing a point which I feel could be valuable to you.

First off...
Not an OED "snippet". That is the full text of the abridged (online) entry. No quote-mining on my part. When it comes to what a word means (outside of a technical context at least), deferring to the OED is not a bad idea.

Secondly...
Smith wrote nothing about capitalism. The word did not appear in any English text until 2 years after he died.
The term 'capitalism' was not really popularized until eight decades later (Das Capital), and Marx used it in a sense quite concordant with the OED definition.

The important point you are missing...
The "dispersed, diverse, fluid version" you and I both hope to preserve and promote is not capitalism. Capitalism itself is perfectly consistent with the aristocracies and oligopolies. In fact, Marx's contribution was to show that capitalism will lead to those outcomes if unchecked.

Even assuming we adopt an expansive and functionally pointless meaning for the term 'capitalism', we still don't need "more capitalism"... since as you admit, it can either be good or bad.
What we need to be advocating for are the necessary and appropriate checks on capitalism (and capitalists) so that a "dispersed, diverse, fluid" economy can continue exist.

Yes, the distinction might be lost on the "clueless", but it is rather important.

BTW: You completely miss the point about my "paean to feudalism" too. I'm not a fan of feudalism, but feudalism is more orderly, stable, and arguably just than unrestrained capitalism.
Fortunately, we have the great Enlightenment institutions and don't have to resort to the divine right of kinds and nobleness oblige to check the accumulation of power by the powerful.

Anonymous said...

So many of the Libertarians I meet or exchange with on the internet are not Libertarians at all, but are FoxNewsians or Rushians. They think they are Libertarians, but they seem to take everything the right says as gospel.

They have all told me that taxes are theft and coercion. That all my beloved government institutions (in Canada) are socialism, because Canada is such a terribly socialist country. They say the only real use of a government is the military and courts to enforce contract law, although I do admit to being confused how they do either tasks without any taxes or coercion to pay for them.

Of course, you can have a civilization without either. Perhaps not for long, but still, they are both optional. As is healthcare. I'm just willing to admit that I am willing to pay taxes to get healthcare and the catastrophic health insurance my country provides to it's citizens.

I view it as my obligation as a member of society. I understand in a complex society I will pay for things via taxes that I don't or won't use or support, but I benefit from them being available to others. For instance, k through 12 education.

It seems to me that many libertarians forget they once got an education and want to take it away from future children. Cutting off their nose to spite their face.

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