Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rediscovering Adam Smith Part II: Bringing in Darwin!

While I'm off to Worldcon, let me finish my explication about the rediscovery (especially by liberals) of a co-founder of their movement.

In Part One, I showed how I am no longer a lonely voice, calling for revival of interest in a co-founder of our revolution, Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith.  Indeed, among the stupidest failings of today's liberal-moderates has been their failure grasp Smith's importance, and potential usefulness in fighting today's confederate-oligarchic madness.

Again, Smith is most prominently discussed at the moderate-liberal-savvy Evonomics site, where creative market competition merges with compatible notions of public responsibility and a tide of wealth that truly lifts all boats. Those who study Smith are realizing (surprise!) that he despised above all the oligarchic owner lords who cheated in 99% of human cultures -- the same caste the American Founders truly rebelled against.

Here's an amazing slide show of quotations from brilliant modern economists who talk about ways to make market economics more sapient and avoid the one failure mode that always ruined it across 6000 years. 

How weird is it that "libertarians" -- now totally suborned by oligarchs who bought the movement, top to bottom -- now avoid any mention of Adam Smith, or the "c-cord."

Competition.

== Getting part right... and some wrong ==

Ah, but even when smart people dial in to that word, the results can be mixed.

In The Darwin Economy Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good, Robert H. Frank argues that Adam Smith had a poor understanding of competition, compared to Charles Darwin. Unfortunately, the capsule summaries of many books – intending to propel reader interest and potential sales, are often misleading or miss the point. Take this example from the book’s own publisher.

Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition--and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? 

"That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.”

That cribbed summary, alas, does Robert Frank no good. (Do online summaries ever convey a book’s core idea well?) This one reveals a stunning lack of understanding of Smith, who said that unregulated competition is exactly what ruined all past societies, because it leads to winners who then cheat, in order to prevent further competition. The resulting pattern - feudalism - always destroyed market creativity… and feudal societies were also immoral. (So said Smith, the author of The Theory Of Moral Sentiments.) 

In fact, Frank in his book debunks the notion that Smith believed in unregulated competition -- unlike the objectivist extremists who have seized on his 'invisible hand' idea.  A direct quote: 

"Smith was well aware that unregulated markets didn't always produce the best outcomes. For the most part, the market failures that were his focus involved underhanded practices by business leaders in a position to wield power."  

Says one of the author’s defenders: “Frank goes beyond Smith in saying that, even in the absence of cheating, even in the absence of incomplete information and irrational choices and all the other ways in which markets fall short, competition for relative goods will by its very nature produce undesirable outcomes, just as competition for mates will produce bull elk that are encumbered by outsize antlers.”

To which I answer… meh. Adam Smith made clear that a society’s fundamental values can be incorporated into weighting various market forces, through incentives, taxes or criminal deterrence. 

And sure, I my libertarian side notes that social incentivizing is dangerous! Race and gender discrimination laws (Jim Crow) reflected earlier generations’ values, as did Prohibition and the insane War on Drugs. Tobacco subsidies and those that encouraged generations of shortsighted water mismanagement join with fossil fuel incentives in a long list of socially or politically-driven market interferences that proved at-best counterproductive or that later generations deemed to be downright evil. Indeed, all past civilizations regulated in ways that favored both the priesthood and the owner-lordly caste, and the priesthood issued declarations that ‘This imbalance of power Is Good.’   

Still, we know that for every example of horrifically awful regulation, there’s likely to be several good ones. Kids in Los Angeles can breathe the air now without feeling (as I did, growing up) as if they were collapsing in a Flanders 1918 gas attack. Tobacco and alcohol taxes decidedly reduce those vices without creating a criminal black market. People now fish from the riverbanks in Pittsburgh and the 1994 CAFÉ auto efficiency standards gave us better cars, saved us tens of billions at the pump and promoted energy independence while hurting the U.S. auto industry not one iota. 

What we are talking about is the weighting of markets to include externalities, like the health of our children and the sustainability of a planet they’ll depend on. The anti-monopoly laws passed by previous generations – and gutted by the recent GOP – were pro-enterprise! Just as today’s Republican Party relentlessly seeks to end flat-fair competition in every way imaginable.  

Smithian market weighting, should always be questioned, skeptically! That is a legitimate role for a vigorous-sane libertarian movement! (Rather than today's lickspittle-lackey obeisance to oligarchs.) 

But it is about augmenting the general wisdom of invisible hand mass-market with some actual wisdom from the most-advanced of all human organs – our prefrontal lobes.

== They want us not to even look ahead where we’re going ==

The Rand-Friedman wing of libertarianism - ranting the FIBM (Faith in Blind Markets) message at its extreme - has proved to be stupifyingly insane, spewing endless incantations that civilization should never use those prefrontal organs of foresight, that a hundred thousand generations of human ancestors strove so hard to develop. Their cult belief in perfect, distributed, enlightened self-interest have been disproved from every angle – psychology, human behavior, brain scans, micro-economics and the most brutally market test of all – failure of their beloved predictions to ever, ever and I mean ever come true. 

Friedrich Hayek did have a point, that we should maximize the number of competent market participants. But that - ironically - turns into an argument for liberalism, since interventions to raise up poor children, to build infrastructure and to combat unthinking prejudice all help us to stop wasting talent and instead maximize the number of ready competitors.

Just as any sporting league needs constant regulation, lest each game collapse into a maelstrom of cheating, what works in the economy is well-regulated markets, fine-tuned according to a civilization that strives to keep competition flat-fair-open.

== Willingness to re-evaluate ==

Mind you, this entails finding a sweet spot. And if our parents made calamitous Drug War and talent-wasting gender assumptions, and their parents did it with Prohibition and racism, then can we be sure we’re not gumming the works with our own interventions? Certainly the Soviet state planners felt so sure of their models, which worked well in forging primary industry like steel, and horribly at making a refrigerator anyone would want.

 The Chinese engineer-lords in today’s CPR politburo are sure they’ve solved that problem and I go into that elsewhere. But we still prefer the method that brought us to this festival of wealth and freedom and improving insight – a flatter, more evenly balanced approach, that avoids the failed model of the past – hierarchy.

Alas, misunderstanding of Adam Smith is rampant, only matched by general ignorance of Darwin, whose heirs now know that a healthy ecosystem is made up of a myriad competitive units, but the overall effect is the appearance of healthy cooperation. 

Ecosystems collapse when some predator escapes all feedback loops of restraint, as happened every time small groups of human males - armed with metal implements and priestly justifications - take everyone else’s women and wheat.

== An aspect that is... interesting ==

Robert Frank (see *note below) asserts that – as one supporter put it - there is a homeomorphism between, on the one hand, natural selection and economic competition for absolute goods, and, on the other hand, sexual selection and economic competition for relative (positional) goods.  

Well well. Interesting. And if so, it would explain why half of today’s rich – the stoopid half, mostly – care far more about their relative power over other humans, than about fostering a generally creative society where all boats rise alongside their yachts.

I was skeptical, at first. But yes, this does mesh with one of my own riffs… that we are all descended from the harems of feudalist cheaters who took other mens’ women and wheat. And even though today’s lords might have vasectomies to prevent unwanted complications, they act - reflexively and un-thinkingly - as if driven by an urgent need to win at reproduction.  I get the point, then.

But it still reveals no insight into Adam Smith, who urged that we try to be sapient about all this!  That even if today’s males inherit fantasies from those harem-keeping ancestors, we can choose - both individually and collectively - not to act on them. That even if shortsighted oligarchs - driven by ego, instinct and flattery - threaten to bring back the cheater hierarchies against whom the American Founders rebelled, we can choose – with help from some of the Good Billionaires – to stymie that reflex without falling into the extremes. 

Reform without the bloodiest kinds of revolution.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------- Coda ----------------------------------------

== Use Halloween to help end the freak show ==

Here's your costume for Halloween, a week before the US mid-term elections. But wear it all of October. Don't let it start a fight. Just let it speak for itself. Especially if others do it, doo. (And if so, supplies may run out, so order now.)
Here it's cheap enough to buy several as favors/gifts. Pass it along. It's a thing.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

*NOTES: Frank proposes that instead of taxing productive economic activity, such as earnings or sales, government should raise money from activities (including relative goods) whose pursuit is a pernicious drag on society as a whole.... extending "sin taxes" (e.g. on tobacco) to other harmful cycles. At first sight, it's hard to imagine how this might scale-up to levels that would pay for essential services, like infrastructure or uplifting all children. But anyone familiar with Adam Smith and Teddy Roosevelt would know the answer.

Define as a harmful "sin" - and hence taxable - the ways that accumulations of property generally become toxic. Monopoly. Duopoly. And the reflex of aristocrats to stay rich by investing in "rent-seeking," rather than creative or productive enterprise. In other words, the exact opposite to every single "Supply Side Reform."

Healthy markets need incentives and it is right that Elon Musk get richer by working with engineers to give us keys to the Solar System. That's not the same thing at all. And the cult of risk-free, rentier accumulation by a lordly caste is the very opposite.  It is the old enemy of enterprise, across 6000 years.

63 comments:

donzelion said...

Alfred: (Continuing from previous post - which is tangentially relevant to this one)

My point: "authoritarians tend to ALREADY be in power - most of the time"
Your response: "That’s why many libertarians won’t vote at all. They consider it a suckers game."
Exactly - which leaves things as they are - a win for the authoritarians. Libertarians MIGHT complain, but will generally stand by them in the end, rather than risk the (deliberately inflated) possibility of coercion.

Conservatives need a libertarian critique that goes ONLY so far as to condemn action that could reverse how they've arranged the playing field to their advantage BEFORE the competition starts. Then, once they've 'cheated' a bit in giving themselves all sorts of advantages (or handicaps for rivals), they aren't so threatened by libertarian calls for a 'fair' game (at least, for that aspect of 'the game' that is scrutinized).

"I don’t claim to have the right to cause anyone to suffer a negative externality."
Understood: the problem is that the externalities are not 'dimensions' of the field - but energy at work before, during, and after each 'game.' They influence the market BEFORE the market comes into existence - as it operates - and after each transaction.

A typical libertarian position would resist any coercion to try to eliminate externalities after the 'game' started - or propose 'fair' adjustments on the field. For example, in a soccer game, if the field has a slight hill, a 'principled' libertarian would assert that the 'fair' way to handle that is to have the teams switch sides at half-time, so each got the 'benefit' of the hill. That's a Rawlsian sense of 'fairness' at work.

donzelion said...

Alfred: Let me extend on that with the sports analogy - think of the soccer field that has a hill, giving an advantage to the attacker over the defender since they can run faster.

Most observers recognize this as unfair. But those who set things up that way will argue that "They paid good money for those seats, near their favorite players! How dare you consider stripping that value away from them?"

The rare libertarian stands on the principles and sees through this. You may be that rare libertarian.

Most shrug, and accept variations on the (fraudulent) 'fairness' claim (why 'steal' from them? that sort of coercion wouldn't be fair either - they did after all pay for this...). It may be that they recognize the unfairness, but the risk of coercion is too great - what if those referees go nuts and make all sorts of other calls that interfere with the freely competitive game? If they can force the players to switch sides halfway through the game, what else might they do?! Slippery slope! Better to just let the players play, even if things aren't quite 'fair.'

A 'progressive/libertarian' might respond to that: "Yes, but when you've cheated on setting it up that way, the best teams won't come here to play and you'll miss out!" In theory...yes. But for oligarchs, there are all sorts of ways of ensuring that there's no other stadium for anyone to play at, except for those they've set up their way, for their benefit.

"at the foundation level, I’m unwilling to claim rights that harm others."
Again, that may not be good enough. As with the soccer pitch story, so with the market itself - when certain rights were DESIGNED to ensure that harm to others is preserved, or benefits from committing harms flow without disruption to those who inflicted the harms, then intervention is mandatory to restore 'fairness.'

Our best bet is to redefine value: the spectators who wanted certain the players 'nearer to them' must lose, while other value is enforced - creating a 'fairer game.' Competition is more important than 'the value of seeing my favorite players more closely.' Folks who love competition must be rewarded and positioned to make judgments - and those judgments must be binding. Failure to do things this way ensures that eventually, those who can 'tilt the field' will do so, every time.

The threat to the game is seldom 'referees running amok' (they may do so occasionally, but are replaceable) - but oligarchs looking for ingenious ways to cheat. So too in the market: the threat posed by referees and judges is far less important than the efforts by certain teams themselves to attain advantages.

(Note: Adam Smith was PROBABLY aware of all of this - which is why he spent his last decades working on a legal treatise to try to respond to these problems...then tossed it in the fire as he was unsatisfied with his findings. IMHO, the best person to look to for an understanding of real solutions remains Justice Brandeis).

donzelion said...

As for this observation - "Race and gender discrimination laws (Jim Crow) reflected earlier generations’ values, as did Prohibition and the insane War on Drugs."

An excellent study on precisely how those race and gender discrimination laws operated is Rothstein's 'The Color of Law.' Ken Burn's 'Prohibition' is among the most accessible treatments of the anti-immigrant fury operating behind the scenes in that episode. Enough folks here lived through the 'War on Drugs' to have a sense of the targets...

Still, I think the battle of the 20th century economic theory is best seen as Keynes v. Friedman (Hayek occasionally called into service, most often by Friedman's camp). Friedman said an awful lot more that is an awful lot more interesting than anything he may have tangentially muttered about 'supply side' economics or quarterly profits: his monetarism has driven policies for 40+ years far more than Keynesian theories ever has (the biggest open question is the pace at which monetary growth should be encouraged...). Indeed, Friedman's formative works on rents offer powerful critiques for how markets operate - critiques Smith would have found fascinating.

It's worth respecting his work ENOUGH to learn how to grapple with the problems he raises, some of which Smith never imagined.

Oddly enough, opponents of minimum wage routinely make the precise 'cost-push' arguments Friedman vehemently opposed but Keynesians asserted (the theory that cost of labor will push up prices of goods and services): the fact that most people don't know what he actually said is quite like the mutated Smithian, Darwinian, and even Keynesian monstrosities that displaced the actual theories each advocated.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Justice Brandeis - YES!

His comment "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both"

Is the best non economic justification for a steeply progressive taxation regime

On a similar subject I have just seen the very BEST argument for a Constitutional Monarchy

"It is a very good idea for the Prime Minister to have to get down on his or her knees to somebody once a week"(I don't think they actually have to get on their knees but the idea is there)

Good for the PM's soul! - and for the rest of us

donzelion said...

Duncan: "[Brandeis'] comment "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both" - Is the best non economic justification for a steeply progressive taxation regime"

It's a good argument. A 'better' argument might be one that Smith raised:

"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state."

That's a 'non-economic' argument akin to the Biblical claim, "to whomsoever much has been given, much shall be expected." Rightwingers claim this argument amounts to a call for a flat tax, rather than a progressive one. But that would essentially nullify Smith's phrase - 'revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.' Once those magic words are understood, and given the meaning Smith meant, a 'progressive' tax becomes necessary as a simple measure to access the fact that those who 'earn' more, do so increasingly as a result of the state's protection beyond a certain level of labor they've contributed.

These days, the vast majority of 'revenue' (in Smith's sense, not in modern 'income' senses) that falls 'under protection of the state' comes from capital gains, which are only realizable as a consequence of an effectively functioning state that (1) enforces contracts (including contracts between businesses and employer/employee and investors in a business), (2) protects property rights, and (3) provides for transfer of estates. The state 'protects' corporate income (and trustee income) far more than it does ordinary shopkeepers or professionals; it also protects landlord income from renting out properties - landlords are not required to hire their own police to evict nonpaying tenants. In practice, the larger the income, the more dependent it becomes upon state protection (a little less so for professionals, but even there, every trade has protections in place for it to operate). Progressive taxation is the simplest instrument of achieving that goal of proportionality.

Smith uses an analogy of that acknowledges taxpayers should pay somewhat like the “expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.” BUT if/when the managers are receiving additional benefits from the joint venture beyond the revenue they receive, then either they derive a windfall (as a result of privileged position within the 'great estate') or pay the full value proportionally (in effect, progressively).

Bear in mind Brandeis wrote most of his economic theory before the US implemented a national income tax, though the concept was quite familiar. He was all-too-aware of mechanisms by which trusts/monopolies could avoid 'income' by using profits to acquire a privileged position - the theory hasn't shifted much in the last 100 years (all that's shifted is that capital gains get taxed increasingly less than income - where Smith would probably have done things the opposite way).

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ making predictions in the previous thread:

4) Our President won’t be one of those disinterested observers and will cast doubt on the entire process arguing that the Democrats cheated to gain the majority. He will argue they did what they are accusing him of having done in 2016. At this point he will actually use the correct term. Conspiracy.


I agree he'll make the argument, but he'll stick with "Collusion". In his mind, the term itself now represents the highest of crimes. Yesterday, several news outlets published editorials condemning his attacks on the press, and he accused the newspapers of "colluding", as if the mere act of collusion with anyone is the problem, not the "with Russia" part.


5) With the House in Democratic hands, an open war will erupt between the House and the White House.


I'm convinced that, like with the 1998 Clinton impeachment, the midterms will be a referendum on whether voters want to protect or push back on Benedict Donald. I have my concerns that too much salivating over impeachment will encourage otherwise-apathetic voters to show support for their guy, and even to sway some independents who don't like the idea of using impeachment to undo elections (as happened with the Walker recall attempt in Wisconsin).


6) By the half-way point in 2019 it will be clear to all ‘reasonable’ observers that our President is criminally liable on many counts and should be impeached. He will be


Do you think there's a chance of his actually being convicted by 2/3 of the Senate? I don't, and absent that, I'm not sure impeachment is a good move.

In any case, I think that conclusion has been clear for many months now, and what you're saying is that by 2019, even those desperate to give Trump the benefit of the doubt simply won't have room for doubt any longer.

Lorraine said...

I'd be interested to know what might be the detailed plans for weighting economic forces. My only real complaint with the market mechanism is that it seems only to be able to calculate efficiency on a dollar weighted basis. Whether it can be rigged to calculate on a person-weighted basis (or even a compromise between dollar-weighted and person-weighted) is a question that interests me a lot.

Darrell E said...

donzelion said . . .

"This is one of my general critiques of 'transparency' as a whole: . . ."

I think what you are arguing there is not so much a critique of transparency as concerns about how age old human bad behaviors on the part of existing authorities will attempt to make sure it (transparency) never happens. What you describe is not transparency at all but rather its opposite. It's those with more power and authority limiting and distorting the flow of information to others to suit their own interests.

Larry Hart said...

Responses to Trump's war on the media...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Aug17.html#item-1

...

Chicago Sun-Times: We are, at the Sun-Times, the enemy of unchecked authority and undeserved privilege. We are the enemy of self-entitlement. We are the enemy of the notion that the only way up is to hold somebody else down. We are the enemy of nothing but "thoughts and prayers" when children are slaughtered. We are the enemy of faked-up outrage. We are the enemy of deadly streets and violent gangs. We are the enemy of thugs who shoot into crowds. We are the enemy of the societal failings of our city and country that have shaped the thugs and given them space. We are the enemy, that is to say, of dead-end jobs and no jobs, bad schools, racism, bad parenting and people who look away. We are the friend, though, of so much more.


And this Trump tweet is why I say he'll stick with the word "collusion" for Democratic opposition to himself:

The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!

Larry Hart said...

A real American hero...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/revoke-my-security-clearance-too-mr-president/2018/08/16/8b149b02-a178-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Dear Mr. President:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.


locumranch said...


"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state." [Adam Smith]

It's hilarious how closely Smith's socioeconomic ideal (as stated above) conforms to the three principles of Fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini:

1. Everything in the state;
2. Nothing outside the state; and
3. Nothing against the state.

"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the (state)", says Adam Smith, which equals fascist principle #1.

"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the (state) under the protection of the state", says Adam Smith, wherein the phrase under the state can be interpreted in terms of fascist principles #2 and #3.

This explains in part, why Smithian's like FDR were such big fans of Benito Mussolini & his Fascism:

Roosevelt praised Mussolini in a June 1933 letter to an American envoy: “... I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general European trouble.” In another letter a few weeks later, the President wrote: “I don't mind telling you in confidence that I am keeping in fairly close touch with the admirable Italian gentleman.”

Shortly thereafter, FDR sentenced boatloads of Jewish immigrants to death by (1) denying them entrance into the USA and (2) deporting them back to Nazi Germany.


Best
_____

As 90% of all major media outlets in the USA are owned & controlled by 6 or less corporate media conglomerates, I'd say that it's up to them to prove that they aren't colluding with each other, wouldn't you? They may even be fascist Smithians, too.

https://www.morriscreative.com/6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america/

Michael Richardson, Network Architect said...

Sadly, the Union Army hat you pointed to does not ship to Canada. (Because we are also unwitting participants this latest round of the war against feudal lords)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Healthy markets need incentives and it is right that Elon Musk get richer by working with engineers to give us keys to the Solar System. That's not the same thing at all. And the cult of risk-free, rentier accumulation by a lordly caste is the very opposite.


By way of George Orwell, I might make the point as...

"The word you are looking for is 'capitalism'. But that is not capitalism. Crony-capitalism, perhaps, but that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

What you describe is not transparency at all but rather its opposite.


Yes, I won't mangle the Orwell line a second time, but the same concept does apply to "one-way transparency" vs "transparency".

Alfred Differ said...

hmm... I detect a business opportunity here for Americans.
Buy blue kepis locally. Sell them to Canadians... or anyone else outside the shipping range of their preferred purchase.

I'd be willing to do that for people for a small price. Shipping costs + ~ 1$.
If currency exchange is necessary, Bitcoin would be preferred. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Or you could shop around on Amazon. Lots of people sell those hats. Civil war re-enactors need equipment. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Civil war re-enactors need equipment. 8)


And their skill-set might be in demand soon.

Winter7 said...

¿Did you hear about what happened in Philadelphia? ¡300 priests abused 1000 children! And the church protected the priests and hid the truth.
Here the Goldfinger rule is confirmed. The Catholic Church is again caught in the protection and unconditional protection of pedophile priests. This matter is not sporadic. It is about premeditated actions.
This gives me the reason when I feel a huge disdain against the Catholic Church. (And I am Catholic, so I am totally justified to feel a huge indignation when I realize that my religion is just a lie.

There is a song by REM on the subject:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwtdhWltSIg

This is the news, in the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-church-sex-abuse-pennsylvania.html

Winter7 said...

“How weird is it that "libertarians" -- now totally suborned by oligarchs who bought the movement, top to bottom -- now avoid any mention of Adam Smith, or the "c-cord."

Yes. It is surprising how easily the members of social elites around the world tend to be at the service of the oligarchs in a totally unconditional and fast way. (not all)
I think that's due to two reasons:

A) The members of the elites think that by joining the oligarchs they will obtain enormous benefits.

B) The oligarchs have modified the structure of human societies so that everything is under the control of the oligarchy in an automatic and unavoidable way.

The tricks of the oligarchy are a Gordian knot. And there is only one way to undo the Gordian knots.

Winter7 said...

¡Ho surprise! Microsoft discovered that A group of hackers believed to be linked to the Russian army have launched phishing campaigns against at least three candidates for the 2018 elections:

http://fortune.com/2018/07/19/microsoft-russia-hack-2018-election-campaigns/


And ¡Oh surprise! ¡The US government does not retaliate!

David Brin said...

Winter7 it is unfair to call all libertarians social elites. You clearly don't know many. Many of them are sincere in applying their Suspicion of Authority reflex toward cloying regulation and bullying bureaucrats. It is a reflex we need at the negotiating table, since those authorities CAN be threats to freedom and you know it.

My complaint is that 90% of libertarians have been cozened into ignoring that competition has been destroyed far more often by oligarchic property-lords.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Let's hope not. Most of us are too obese to be running up and down hills shooting at people. 8)

What we actually need are men and women of integrity (just watched Brennan interview with Maddow) to refuse illegal orders. When the get serious about doing that, Two Scoops will pop a cork and be vulnerable to Amendment #25.

Having the Constitutional authority to act is not the same as having the power to act. In other words, the branches of government are checked by something that isn't a branch of government and doesn't have to wait for elections.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I am a libertarian, but I don't think I fit your description. Many of us don't.

A) It's not that we stand to obtain great benefits. Few of us ever do. What we stand to gain is a purpose for our striving. Everyone who ever serves an aristocrat understands the sense of purpose they get to have that is clearly defined. Those who do not serve have to manufacture their own sense of purpose. Many, many of us LIKE to have a purpose in doing what we do, so we can be owned that way.

B) The aristocrats haven't modified much of anything. It is the rest of us in service to a shared purpose who do it. Even the lowest peasant participates if they accept their social standing and the social justification for it.

The Gordian knot was slashed open about four centuries ago and the world has changed considerably. Even in your country, things have changed. There is plenty more work to be done improving things, but it is underway. Everyone who refuses to serve the aristocrats helps in this regard.

Winter7 said...

David Brin:

Probably my mistake is to suppose that elites throughout the world are equal to the elites in the infinitely corrupt country called Mexico. Certainly, I do not personally know the elites of other countries and I certainly have not lived in those other societies and places.
In any case, I think I did not understand your comment exactly. (Maybe I can blame the google automatic translator again ...)

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | In his mind, the term itself [collusion] now represents the highest of crimes.

I don't think so, but I admit there is a chance you are correct. I recall him initially arguing collusion is a natural part of politics. He argues he hasn't colluded with Russia. What he is doing with the word lately (relating to the Press) is use the bully pulpit to shape the definition of the term. It's a two prong approach. Everyone does it! See?! What my folks did is allowed and THEY are trying to pretend it isn't only if WE do it!

He will fail because so many of us are now focusing on 'conspiracy.' He will have to change his approach next year and deal with that.

1998 Clinton

I've been thinking about the midterm referendum a lot lately and I think a lot of people are getting it wrong. When I voted in '98, I was unhappy with Clinton for his lack of intelligence concerning predictions for where all this would go. I didn't care much if he had an affair with an intern. My annoyance at the investigation was that it looked like a perjury issue over something we should not have been investigating in the first place. Sound familiar?

The folks who argue we shouldn't be investigating Trump Incorporated will make a similar case for this election, but this cover-up/obstruction attempt isn't about sexual activity for which a married man might reasonably be expected to lie. This time it is about @#$@ing with our elections and the Presidential transition processes. Sex is one thing. Treason is another.

My suspicion is an impeachment effort this time won't lead to the push-back we saw in '98. This time around, there are high crimes worthy of being charged if this particular Special Counsel reports them out as I think he will.

Do you think there's a chance of his actually being convicted by 2/3 of the Senate?

Yes… if the House does its job properly. If the Blue Wave appears in November, we should invite a number of GOP senators to renounce their party and join the Dems even if people have to hold their noses a bit to do it. The invitation SHOULD be extended along with the implied threat for 2020. If the House impeaches Two Scoops properly based on sound evidence brought to them by Mueller, we just might get 2/3 of the Senate.

even those desperate to give Trump the benefit of the doubt simply won't have room for doubt any longer.

Brennan's interview made it fairly plain tonight. He gave Trump a year to mature. He hoped it would happen. It did not and he has to face that now. Trump is 'losing the officer corp' in this. he accused Brennan of behaving in an erratic fashion and NO ONE with any sense believes it could be anyone but Two Scoops who is being erratic.

Winter7 said...

Alfred Differ:

“@winter7 | I am a libertarian, but I don't think I fit your description. Many of us don't.”

Hooo! I see what caused the confusion. ¿Do you think that I am including them in my comment? DO NOT. Remember I said: ("Not all")? All right. That "Not everyone" refers to you. I was not including them in "the sinister elites".
And I see something else that is cause for confusion: In this blog, the word "elites" refers to honest professionals who defend the noble interests of the United States.
In my country, when we use the word "elites" we refer to something sinister and evil: Politicians, feudal entrepreneurs of insatiable greed, and other monsters like that.
Everything has been a confusion caused by the difference in language between American culture and Mexican culture.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I was pretty sure you weren't including all of us. I just wanted to help make sure you knew it wasn't a small segment of libertarians. It's NOT obvious because we aren't as vocal, but we aren't a small fraction of libertarians.

'Elite' carries a double meaning here. The sinister and evil variation is certainly one possibility, but like all things in English, so much depends on context. That's why I switched to 'aristocrat' as I thought that was a little closer to your intent. 'Nobleman' would work almost as well in English. Lately we've been using 'oligarch' a lot, but that is different from 'nobleman'. In French it would translate as 'haute bourgeois' I think, but I may be wrong. 'Oligarch' implies lots of wealth being used to enforce political power, but the person might not have the family history necessary to be considered an actual aristocrat.

Language translation is fun. No doubt when you push this through the translator, it will come out a little different than I intend. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

What we actually need are men and women of integrity (just watched Brennan interview with Maddow) to refuse illegal orders. When the get serious about doing that, ...


Well, I'm not in a position to take or refuse direct orders from the #SoCalledPresident or anything like that, but I've felt that refusing to respect his occupation of the office is my own small way of doing the same thing. And I feel you've been arguing with me about it every step of the way.


What he is doing with the word ["collusion" lately (relating to the Press) is use the bully pulpit to shape the definition of the term. It's a two prong approach. Everyone does it! See?! What my folks did is allowed and THEY are trying to pretend it isn't only if WE do it!


Yes, I'll agree with you on that. It's not (as I stated) that he considers collusion the ultimate crime, but rather that he perceives his enemies to think that. Remember how he responded to Hillary's debate point that he (Trump) was a Russian puppet ("There's no puppet. You're the puppet!") That's exactly what he's doing with collusion right now--"There's no collusion. You're [the news media] the colluders."

Which is why I don't think he'd shift to another word like "conspiracy". It's not enough to assert that his enemies are doing something bad. He has to say they're doing the same bad thing they claim he's doing.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

My annoyance at the investigation was that it looked like a perjury issue over something we should not have been investigating in the first place. Sound familiar?

The folks who argue we shouldn't be investigating Trump Incorporated will make a similar case for this election,


They'll also claim that they said the same thing about the Clinton investigation back when, and they'll say that even back then they didn't think a sitting president should be subpoenaed, and that they only cared about Clinton's obstruction of justice, not his moral character. And they'll be lying through their asses when they say so, but that doesn't stop them.


My suspicion is an impeachment effort this time won't lead to the push-back we saw in '98. This time around, there are high crimes worthy of being charged if this particular Special Counsel reports them out as I think he will.


One of us is not accurately perceiving Trump's following. I see them as brownshirts with their first allegiance to der Fuehrer, and they don't give a good goddamn what he did or didn't do. You're either with him or against him, and they're with him.

The pertinent question in these trying times is whether or not they outnumber or overpower us.

locumranch said...

The Oligarchy owns & controls the Media:

Almost all media comes from the same six sources.
https://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

I challenge you to name one MSM outlet that is NOT owned or controlled by some Billionaire Oligarchy and/or Foreign Power.

The New York Times is owned by Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim; Fox is owned & controlled by the Saudis & Billionaire Rupert Murdock; and the Washington Post is owned lock, stock & barrel by Billionaire Jeff Bezos.

The so-called 'Free Press' is neither 'free' nor 'transparent', and you delude yourself if you believe otherwise.


Best

Treebeard said...

Locum, centralized media is OK as long as they're Good Billionaires who virtue signal properly and support the progressive agenda to turn the world upside down. In fact it's necessary, since the common folk don't generally want their world turned upside down, and need to be gradually conditioned to accept the new reality that down is up, men are women, the whole world has a right to live in your neighborhood, and so on. Of course the rest of the media, stuck in the “right side up world”, are peddling fake news, hate speech and Russian propaganda and deserve to be shut down.

Donald Gisselbeck said...

The endless whining about teh ebul gummint and its oppressive rules is getting annoying. From the perspective of "but a mechanic" government is largely positive. My employers can't economically work me more than 40 hours a week, poison me, or make me work with dangerous equipment. Members of the predator class can't buy up public lands and keep me from skiing on them. The horrific taxes pay for safety and roads I can drive. I realize "libertarians" think this is an appalling state of affairs "what do the poor want with leisure, they're supposed to be working ". You should suck it up, if we untermenschen weren't living decent lives, we'd be plotting to remove your heads.

Winter7 said...

I think there is clear evidence that the German secret service and the German police are idiots:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6067379/Yazidi-former-sex-slave-came-face-face-ISIS-captor-German-street.html

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winter7 said...

Elon Musk seems to be under great psychological pressure. I think he has not been able to delegate responsibilities adequately. I guess it's hard to find trustworthy people when the company is on the brink of disaster.
My recommendation to Musk is to try not to comment if you do not feel well. That only causes more problems. You better try to sleep more and hire more help in your factory.
You must place apprentices to all your employees, so that, in a month, you have twice as many qualified employees, which will double production. And he must hire a group of executive apprentices, supporting him. After some time, the two most efficient apprentices will be able to take their place temporarily, when he has to go to rest. Recently, an employee from Japan died from overwork, from a heart attack. I hope Musk is taking aspirin every day.

Winter7 said...

In Mexico, in the state of Guadalajara, they passed a law that allows people to have sex on the street.
That will give you an idea of the degree of moral depravity that elites have in Mexico.
It is evident that, because of this law, prostitution will be more difficult to stop and the depravity of society will increase when children see acts of depravity.
Mexico is now the equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Winter7 said...

Lately, Donald Trump seems to have more senile dementia than usual.
I think that certainly, the fear of the doctor that the Republican party will get rid of Trump is a concern that seems to have strong bases these days. Maybe a golf accident? Trump stumbling over a golf club that breaks sharply, and digs into the heart?
Or perhaps a discrete heart attack after drinking a drink from a young prostitute sent by the casino mafia?
¡Wohaa! ..The situation of Donald Trump reminded me of a scene from the movie "The Godfather" in which Corleone family consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) visits Pentangeli in custody. Hagen tells Pentangeli, a history buff, a story about how traitors in ancient Rome could spare their families if they committed suicide; the implication being that Michael will take care of Pentangeli's family if he kills himself. Pentangeli thanks Hagen, returns to his assigned quarters, and slits his wrists while taking a bath.

Winter7 said...

The translator does not correctly translate the complaint of Mr. Donald Gisselbeck. I did not understand if he is defending the oligarchs or ... something else.

Winter7 said...

Am I the only one who has noticed that many of the republican states resemble a new version of the movie "Mississippi burning"? Donald Trump acts as a character in that movie. Totally.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Donald Gisselbeck is using some slang and sarcasm at the same time to demonstrate that a strawman libertarian is ridiculous. Indeed it is, but like all straw men, it is a simplistic construct designed to look ridiculous. Lots of people make them when they are in a rush in their opposition of another, but libertarians get hit from multiple sides. Very few people take the time to bother with understanding us in any depth. Do a little nut picking, build a strawman, call it a day.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | …I've felt that refusing to respect his occupation of the office is my own small way of doing the same thing.

Without making any attempt to belittle what you are doing, it is NOT the same. Presidents have a certain amount of authority to exercise certain powers. President who fail to maintain staff who are willing to accept tasks have authority, but little power. Since you aren't part of the team that accepts and executes orders, you can't deny him power by refusing orders.

Refusing the respect his occupation of the office is a different thing. You attack the validity of the election instead of the power he could wield. Your refusal is closer to what Mueller is doing IF Mueller ties Two Scoops to conspiracy to defraud the United States in a way that demonstrates criminal liability. If Mueller makes that connection and the House carries it forward to impeachment, the election of Two Scoops can reasonably be said to be illegitimate. I think you are jumping the gun, but I don't fault you for wanting to do it. I suspect that IS what Mueller is going to do now.

As for collusion vs conspiracy, we shall see within a year. If you are right, I'll bow. Until then, I'll leave my prediction as is and see if it survives. 8)

Clinton's obstruction of justice

Bill Clinton has proven himself to be less than admirable in some ways I find a little creepy, but I DO remember at the time thinking his 'obstruction' wasn't about blocking justice. I didn't see the attack on him as having anything to do with justice no matter how much his opponents said it was. Perjury? Sure. Some conspiracy with Hillary? No doubt. An attack on Justice? Nope. Political fights are rarely about justice even when people claim it is.

One of us is not accurately perceiving Trump's following.

Apparently. I'm rather surprised actually, but I think you are correct. I see a few people wearing brownshirts, but most of his supporters aren't… yet. If they hold their own in November, though, those brown shirts may come out.

What I'm seeing among my own relatives and friends is exhaustion among the Trump supporters. We've been beating on them for over two years now because this didn't start with Trump winning the election. It's NOT getting better for them. This observation applies to people relatively close to me and might not be representative, but I don't live in a bubble. They ARE getting tired of this and our side isn't. Even better, our side is being backed up by… Mueller.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Since you aren't part of the team that accepts and executes orders, you can't deny him power by refusing orders.


I don't entirely dismiss your point. OTOH, I deny him some power by supporting my city's refusal to cooperate with ICE in a way I wouldn't if the federal government weren't acting like stormtroopers. Also, I deny him some power by believing my own lying eyes rather than his alternative facts.


Refusing the respect his occupation of the office is a different thing. You attack the validity of the election instead of the power he could wield.


Again, yes and no. I admit it is petty of me to pretend he doesn't count as the officeholder. But some elements that I refuse to grant dignity to--never saying "P******t T***p", for example--are about what he himself has done to the office. It's my way of "taking a knee", or of saying the emperor has no clothes. He has the office, but he's degraded the office to the point where it doesn't deserve the reflexive respect it did before. A definitive example is the phrase "leader of the free world". Since at least the post-WWII era, that phrase has been assumed to apply to the President of the United States, whoever that may happen to be. It simply doesn't apply now. If you were to say to me that because Trump won a free and fair election, no matter what he's doing, he's leader of the free world, I would laugh in your face.


Your refusal is closer to what Mueller is doing IF Mueller ties Two Scoops to conspiracy to defraud the United States in a way that demonstrates criminal liability.


Again, yes and no. What if some more hidden sinister power--either foreign or domestic--messed with the election to put that guy into office because he'd be a useful idiot? What if they did so without his personal knowledge or involvement? His personal collusion really isn't the most important element of the affront.


If Mueller makes that connection and the House carries it forward to impeachment, the election of Two Scoops can reasonably be said to be illegitimate.


Actually it doesn't. All that says is that his election is a problem whose effects can be cut short. Neither Nixon's election nor Clinton's would have been rendered illegitimate had congress removed them from office.

That said, your sentiment here is mostly correct, but we differ (no pun intended) on the extent to which Trump's authority over Mueller and congress's complicity in the crime change the game.


I think you are jumping the gun, but I don't fault you for wanting to do it. I suspect that IS what Mueller is going to do now.


After watching my daughter go through her first break-up with a boyfriend, I know all too well about processes that don't let you skip to the end. I knew there'd come a time when it wouldn't hurt so bad, but I also knew there was no way to get to that ending without living through the intervening pain. That's very similar to where we are now with Trump. I know there will come a time when his perfidy will be an accepted fact. That we're not there yet is both self-evident and perplexing to me personally.


As for collusion vs conspiracy, we shall see within a year. If you are right, I'll bow. Until then, I'll leave my prediction as is and see if it survives. 8)


Agreed--there's no point strenuously arguing over a prediction whose result will be factually known in a short time. Is the cat alive or dead? Just open the darn box and look! :)

Donald Gisselbeck said...

I'm simply trying to defend my friend's and my decent lives against the attacks of the predator class. Every action of the predator class is aimed at returning us to being at the mercy of the free market. For people like me that means working 90 hours a week for bad room and boad and an ever increasing debt to the company store. It means no safety protections. It means no public lands to ski on. The problem I have with "libertarians" is that they want to end government actions that make it possible for us untermenschen to live the good life.

Donald Gisselbeck said...

Which government actions would support and fund that help make it possible for us untermenschen to live the good life?

Larry Hart said...

Just testing--seems like a long time with no posts.

Shane Mallatt said...

Funny thing is, even after the box gets open one side will most certainly say the cat is dead and the other side will say the cat is alive.

Larry Hart said...

@Shane Mallatt,

That's because truth is not truth. :)

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

The folks at www.electoral-vote.com support your notion of letting Mueller come in with his findings:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Aug20.html#item-3

A second distinction between Clinton and Trump is that the Clinton impeachment (like the Johnson impeachment) was pretty obviously motivated by partisanship, rather than by the commission of "high crimes and misdemeanors." GOP partisans didn't think so, of course, but moderates and independents did, which is why things shifted in Clinton's favor. If Trump is impeached, his loyalists will believe it is a "witch hunt," but it's unlikely many fence-sitters will feel that way, particularly if the proceedings are backed by a voluminous report by the Special Counsel.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Completely off-topic, but I thought of our discussions of "Darmok" when I read this article on which fonts are acceptable to use in a resume. Think of the obscure cultural references without which this paragraph would be completely unintelligible:

https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/best-font-for-resume?wt.mc_n=CRM_B2C_US_EN_ONG_E_NEWS_EXP_A1&sp_rid=ODc5MDEwODk0OAS2&sp_mid=1902683

Would you ever sign a lease that was handwritten in crayon? How about a contract that was put together ransom-note style? Unless you enjoy playing with fire, we’re going to guess your answers are “no” and “no.” In fact, we’ll bet you wouldn’t even bother to read them.


Shane Mallatt said...

@Larry Hart
Yup and 2+2=5

David Brin said...

On my way home from worldcon in San Jose. Hope to post soon. Carry on.

Tony Fisk said...

News churn being what it is, you'd blink and miss this bit of stir from Down Under.*

Having yesterday more or less conceded that the NEG** was torpedoed by the far right of his own party***, and the latest polls showing him trailing by a whopping 5 points, Turnbull has just spilled the leadership, and survived the vote. The challenger, and our answer to SeSSions (Peter Dutton) has now resigned as Home Affairs Minister (and there was much rejoicing).
Before the sharks come round for another pass, we may have a Federal election.

* I was out walking the dog in the time this took!
** National Energy Guarantee. Life support for the coal industry masquerading as climate action on a single page spreadsheet, so the acronym is apt.
*** State Labor governments said they'd wait for the Fed Govt to ratify NEG before they'd consider it. Who knew??

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Handwritten in crayon? Probably not. Heh. I don't respond to emails form Nigerian princes either. 8)

Tony Fisk said...

@Alfred what about letters from Nigerian princes handwritten in crayon?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Handwritten in crayon? Probably not.


I was thinking even more about the phrase "put together ransom-note style." What would a non-native student of English make of that without understanding the cultural reference?

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what was already glaringly obvious:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/opinion/trump-republican-truth-climate-change.html

...

Rudy Giuliani’s latest bon mot ["Truth isn't truth."] is a reminder, if anyone needed it, that calling the Trump administration Orwellian isn’t hyperbole, it’s just a statement of fact. Like the ruling party in “1984,” Donald Trump operates on the principle that truth — whether it involves inauguration crowd sizes, immigrant crime or economic performance — is what he says it is. And that truth can change at a moment’s notice.

For example, not long ago, Republicans insisted that Russia was our greatest threat, and that Barack Obama was betraying America by not confronting Vladimir Putin more forcefully; now Putin is one of the good guys, and the base has gone along with the change. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

And if you thought you heard something different from the Trumpian version of reality, blame evil conspirators and saboteurs, whom you get to denounce in the Two Minutes Hate, chanting “lock her up.”

...

Thomas Maughan said...

What is libertarian? Your mileage probably varies. I define it very simply as "I choose for me, you choose for you."

Blogger donzelion said...

"The rare libertarian stands on the principles and sees through this."

There are no "the" principles; each person may have principles, you have some, I have some.

"Most shrug, and accept variations on the (fraudulent) 'fairness' claim"

I have yet to encounter a generalized form of "fair" that is rational and does not require a supreme being to define it and an authority to enforce it.

"there are all sorts of ways of ensuring that there's no other stadium for anyone to play at, except for those they've set up their way, for their benefit."

Or as I sense here, eliminate the GOP but go ahead with electing the sole candidate. Eliminate corporations but still have the benefits of industry.

How many people pushing "fair" really want opposition? Few, I imagine. It's combat; "fair" is pushed when you are on the losing team; but do the winners complain about "fair"? No.

"Our best bet is to redefine value: the spectators who wanted certain the players nearer to them must lose, while other value is enforced - creating a fairer game."

Implicit in this thinking is the existence of an Authority that can force this sort of thing on players, team owners, stadium owners. I am astonished at how readily people disavow authoritarian thinking while engaging in that very thing.

"eventually, those who can 'tilt the field' will do so, every time."

Of course; and so you have to have an Authority that is stronger than any Oligarch and pray to the deity of your choice that he is not just another oligarch.

A theoretical solution exists in the form of an intelligent, highly educated and broadly disciplined (knowing many things; particularly civics and government) electorate. A few tiny European nations might correctly be described in that manner.

Thomas Maughan said...

Larry Hart, quoting Paul Krugman, writes

"not long ago, Republicans insisted that Russia was our greatest threat... now Putin is one of the good guys"

Not long ago the Soviet Union was indeed very dangerous to the United States (and vice versa).

Now there is no Soviet Union.

Putin appears to be principled. These principles are his own but you can navigate around a ship that is steering a steady course even if you don't particularly like the course.

matthew said...

Thomas also shows that libertarians are crazy and dangerous.

"I have yet to encounter a generalized form of "fair" that is rational and does not require a supreme being to define it and an authority to enforce it."

Only a sociopath believes this. Or someone lying about their motivations. The two-pieces of cake (You cut, I choose) thought experiment destroys Thomas' argument here.

Alfred, as our (mostly) harmless version of a libertarian, do you also believe that no form of "fair" can be found?

Oh, and Thomas, "Putin appears to be principled" is at once a tell and a fallacy.

David Brin said...

Thomas Maughan, your wriggling has one aim: "You'll never pin me down long enough to find something to disprove!" Crum, I am vastly more a libertarian than you are. The operative word for you is sophistry.

onward

onward

Thomas Maughan said...

matthew wrote "Only a sociopath believes this."

I applaud your ability to diagnose me with a single comment.

David Brin's book, The Postman, was excellent. The movie less so but still pretty good and delighted that someone turned it into a movie.

The protagonist is libertarian; follows no one and doesn't expect to be followed. He needs some benefits only obtained by association with other humans but he doesn't want to become in someone's herd, beholding to a hierarchy even if democratic. He doesn't want to be a burden and reciprocates this benefit in ways that may be unique to his personality.

In the movie "American Sniper" we learn of three kinds of people: Sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Sheepdogs protect sheep from wolves. Sheepdogs are libertarian: Free and empowered to act, free and trained to choose; principled.

Wolves are also free to act and to choose, but are not principled. Sheep are not free to act or choose. They exist in large numbers.

To be evicted from the herd is a death sentence for sheep but for the sheepdog it's relief.

"The two-pieces of cake (You cut, I choose) thought experiment destroys Thomas' argument here."

Except that it didn't and it doesn't. The example depends upon approximately equal level of greed and that each has similar desire for whatever is being offered.

Consider the case of two children. One 16, the other 6. The 16 year old declares that it would be fair for each to wash the same number of dishes. That does not seem fair to me but quantifying fairness seems unusually difficult. Taking age into account is a start. Fitness. Desire. Emotional stability. Opportunity cost; perhaps one child faces a choice of washing dishes or playing flute in a school concert and ought to be permitted to excel in school when the other has no ambition whatsoever.

FAIR requires to value intangibles. Not only that, everyone must value those intangibles exactly the same way so that all agree when a thing is "fair".

David Brin says "I am vastly more a libertarian than you are."

Likely so. I am a libertarian authoritarian. I recognize the existence of, and necessity for, authority; but I also value choice and liberty. Libertarians are always something else in addition to valuing liberty. Where it differs from socialism or sociopath is that I also value and respect your choices.

David Brin said...

Good lord. Mr. Maughan is another example of these guys who string together sentences and paragraphs filled with polysyllabic stuff that sounds like it ought to contain meaning. But one of Heinlein's Fair Witness logicians would rule it 90% illogical and nonsensical drivel.

Sir, I believe you when you call yourself an authoritarian. You dismiss any need to kowtow to values that m,ight limit your ability to exert what you apparently presume to be your superiority, perhaps under the assumption you would become a top dog. But if the pattern of 6000 years - feudalism - ever were to return, then you are far more likely to be kibble.

I think I know the Postman character a wee bit better than you do. There are no correlative overlaps with your description. He is loyal to the only revolution against dismal feudalism that ever truly cut loose and freed the greatest numbers from oppression, poverty and ignorance.... all three of which were overwhelming under the alternative. Feudal oligarchies.

Your fantasy that you might have more individual sovereignty under some other system -- either the feudalism known by 99.999% of our ancestors, or an anarchy that never, ever ever happened, without fast becoming feudalism, is just ingratitude and blather, spoken from the comfort of the kindest, most indulgent and generous and leat oppressive system humanity ever knew. You are free to ponder other possibilities! It's the ignorant ingratitude that is the measure of you, as a man.

We're moving on to the next posting now. I doubt anyone will be back, down here.

But join the community. Sure, we have plenty of ingrate smartasses. And other kinds, as well.

onward

onward

Thomas Maughan said...

Good heavens! A grasshopper landed on an ant hill. You know what happens next.