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Public goods, democracy, and anarchism

socialpinko
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11/20/2012 7:01:37 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
The public goods problem is an argument forwarded by Statists which claims to necessitate a unitary, coercive institution to provide some good or service (usually national defense). The reasoning goes that the good in question is non-excludable, meaning that there's no way to limit free riders. So even though it's in the collective interests of society to fund the good, rational self interest makes it individually rational to simply free ride. The theory goes that everyone does this and the good is not produced. Therefore, some coercive State is necessary to force payment for the good.

Ignoring the attempt by some anarchists to resolve this problem on it's own terms, I'd like to bring up the fact that the public goods problem is just as potent in regards to democracy, the public good being good policies. The logic basically follows the same reasoning as before with a few differences. While it would be collectively in everyone's best interests if everyone became fully informed of which policies are beneficial and which aren't, it's rational to simply refrain since one's single vote has little tangible effect on anything. Thus, individual rationality equates to collective irrationality.

So the democrat (proponent of democracy, not the Democratic Party) is left in a catch-22. Either admit that the theoretical framework underlying the public goods problem (in analyzing human action as always based in self interest while failing to take into account different motives like charity, ethnic/cultural identity, etc.) is itself false or abandon Democracy as an unworkable solution in much the same way market-based anarchism supposedly is. Note Republican Democracy doesn't fare better either, though the problem comes in a different form. You're still voting for who you think promotes the most beneficial policy.

Tl;dr, democracy and markets are open to much the same public goods criticism so long as a framework analyzing humans as homo economicus is employed. Either the framework is right and markets and democracies have their own public goods problems or it's an incomplete picture of human motivation and thus incapable of compellingly refuting anarchism or justifying the existence of States.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
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: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
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: I disagree.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/20/2012 8:13:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
This problem really isn't unique to government, but exists in markets as well. For example, in any corporation a shareholder only has one vote per share and has to make decisions for the direction of the corporation (either choosing the board of directors, and some other corporate decisions).
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Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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11/20/2012 10:00:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
There are some key fundamental differences in regards to the nature of the human being. The human brain is naturally curious and has a natural desire to learn things and become informed. There is no natural predisposition for people to be moral (in regards to paying for what they use. Nature actually teaches us that the instinct of survival promotes theft, manipulation, and dishonesty). While this natural curiosity will not outweigh all attempts by politicians to make uninformed voters (just like corporations want to make uninformed customers), it does serve as a counter weight to make it so that there will always be people attempting to be informed and spreading information, while there is no natural counter for the free rider problem.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
socialpinko
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11/20/2012 10:16:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
DK, the whole point I was making was that even if the public goods problem is sound, it seems to apply just as well to governments. I figure a case could be made for small-scale community organization federalizing with other communities of a similar sort.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/20/2012 10:21:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 10:16:18 PM, socialpinko wrote:
DK, the whole point I was making was that even if the public goods problem is sound, it seems to apply just as well to governments. I figure a case could be made for small-scale community organization federalizing with other communities of a similar sort.

well yea, but the problem exist everywhere. Principal-agent problems exist everywhere in society. Government is just one of them.
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socialpinko
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11/20/2012 10:26:42 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 10:21:10 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:16:18 PM, socialpinko wrote:
DK, the whole point I was making was that even if the public goods problem is sound, it seems to apply just as well to governments. I figure a case could be made for small-scale community organization federalizing with other communities of a similar sort.

well yea, but the problem exist everywhere. Principal-agent problems exist everywhere in society. Government is just one of them.

I agree. Though wouldn't scaling down the size of the institution/community be a possible way of getting around this? i.e., making the benefits of action more tenable by giving individual action a higher relevance. It just looks prima facie like the best way to do this is to scale down but I could ignorant of other possible methods.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/20/2012 10:40:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 10:26:42 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:21:10 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:16:18 PM, socialpinko wrote:
DK, the whole point I was making was that even if the public goods problem is sound, it seems to apply just as well to governments. I figure a case could be made for small-scale community organization federalizing with other communities of a similar sort.

well yea, but the problem exist everywhere. Principal-agent problems exist everywhere in society. Government is just one of them.

I agree. Though wouldn't scaling down the size of the institution/community be a possible way of getting around this? i.e., making the benefits of action more tenable by giving individual action a higher relevance. It just looks prima facie like the best way to do this is to scale down but I could ignorant of other possible methods.

what do you mean by that? Do you mean a different way of forming democracy, or just a government that's based on the local level. If we are to apply the complete rational behavior model and even assume that a person basically flips a coin to decide who to vote for, the chances of you effecting the election are still low for large numbers.
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socialpinko
Posts: 10,458
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11/20/2012 10:46:17 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 10:40:32 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:26:42 PM, socialpinko wrote:

I agree. Though wouldn't scaling down the size of the institution/community be a possible way of getting around this? i.e., making the benefits of action more tenable by giving individual action a higher relevance. It just looks prima facie like the best way to do this is to scale down but I could ignorant of other possible methods.

what do you mean by that? Do you mean a different way of forming democracy, or just a government that's based on the local level. If we are to apply the complete rational behavior model and even assume that a person basically flips a coin to decide who to vote for, the chances of you effecting the election are still low for large numbers.

I think localized democracy. Something along the lines of libertarian muncipalism as conceived by Bookchin (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu...). I think I've linked this specific article to you before lol.

Of course I'm not sure I think the underlying foundations of the public goods problem are necessarily sound. While people sometimes do act solely in their own interest, a collective social identity based around civil participation or collective utility doesn't seem impossible.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/20/2012 11:09:00 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 10:46:17 PM, socialpinko wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:40:32 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 10:26:42 PM, socialpinko wrote:

I agree. Though wouldn't scaling down the size of the institution/community be a possible way of getting around this? i.e., making the benefits of action more tenable by giving individual action a higher relevance. It just looks prima facie like the best way to do this is to scale down but I could ignorant of other possible methods.

what do you mean by that? Do you mean a different way of forming democracy, or just a government that's based on the local level. If we are to apply the complete rational behavior model and even assume that a person basically flips a coin to decide who to vote for, the chances of you effecting the election are still low for large numbers.

I think localized democracy. Something along the lines of libertarian muncipalism as conceived by Bookchin (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu...). I think I've linked this specific article to you before lol.

Really? I don't think i read it either way.

Of course I'm not sure I think the underlying foundations of the public goods problem are necessarily sound. While people sometimes do act solely in their own interest, a collective social identity based around civil participation or collective utility doesn't seem impossible.

The total self-interest model has some limits but so does the altruistic model. We're somewhere in between, depending on circumstances. Dan Ariely has an interesting TED talk "Why we are moral, but only sometimes". There was another interesting experimental economist that did work on game theory. There's a game called "dictator" where you are given $20 and you choose if you want to share it with your partner. In most cases, the money was split. However, when given the option to be able to steal money from your partner, the amount of money people gave significantly decreased.
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socialpinko
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11/20/2012 11:14:52 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I pray for the day when homo economicus dies a painful death.
: At 9/29/2014 10:55:59 AM, imabench wrote:
: : At 9/29/2014 9:43:46 AM, kbub wrote:
: :
: : DDO should discredit support of sexual violence at any time and in every way.
:
: I disagree.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/20/2012 11:33:38 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 11:14:52 PM, socialpinko wrote:
I pray for the day when homo economicus dies a painful death.

The homo economicus model has some usefulness even though it is not based on reality. Its a model for economic actors, not necessarily "reality". Models are needed not because they are accurate, but because It would be too complex and meaningless if all information was used. Through making some assumptions, predictions can be made through use of math. Just like how in physics, I don't have to use time relativity in order to make calculations, since I assume that time is constant for all objects in the system.
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R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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11/20/2012 11:45:35 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Localization has sound backing from an environmental perspective. Simply put, people aren't going to sh!t in their own backyard.

Take Yucca Mountain for example. We have all this nuclear waste built up, right now, from reactors all over the country. When we built the reactors, we set up temporary storage for the waste while an appropriate site was selected. TURNS OUT NOBODY WANTED ALL OF AMERICA'S NUCLEAR WASTE. Would you believe it? Yucca Mountain is first in line to take the waste. I doubt the local community was too supportive... But if we all decide THEY have to take it, then who'd going to stop us?
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
darkkermit
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11/20/2012 11:47:23 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 11:45:35 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Localization has sound backing from an environmental perspective. Simply put, people aren't going to sh!t in their own backyard.

Take Yucca Mountain for example. We have all this nuclear waste built up, right now, from reactors all over the country. When we built the reactors, we set up temporary storage for the waste while an appropriate site was selected. TURNS OUT NOBODY WANTED ALL OF AMERICA'S NUCLEAR WASTE. Would you believe it? Yucca Mountain is first in line to take the waste. I doubt the local community was too supportive... But if we all decide THEY have to take it, then who'd going to stop us?

Nobody lives on Yucca mountain.
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R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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11/21/2012 10:41:10 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/20/2012 11:47:23 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 11:45:35 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Localization has sound backing from an environmental perspective. Simply put, people aren't going to sh!t in their own backyard.

Take Yucca Mountain for example. We have all this nuclear waste built up, right now, from reactors all over the country. When we built the reactors, we set up temporary storage for the waste while an appropriate site was selected. TURNS OUT NOBODY WANTED ALL OF AMERICA'S NUCLEAR WASTE. Would you believe it? Yucca Mountain is first in line to take the waste. I doubt the local community was too supportive... But if we all decide THEY have to take it, then who'd going to stop us?

Nobody lives on Yucca mountain.

So everyone in Nevada that's fighting to keep our waste out of their state should just quit it then? We all know how much of the geology and ecology you study before you make your environmental points (nothing).
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/21/2012 11:07:31 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/21/2012 10:41:10 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 11/20/2012 11:47:23 PM, darkkermit wrote:
At 11/20/2012 11:45:35 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Localization has sound backing from an environmental perspective. Simply put, people aren't going to sh!t in their own backyard.

Take Yucca Mountain for example. We have all this nuclear waste built up, right now, from reactors all over the country. When we built the reactors, we set up temporary storage for the waste while an appropriate site was selected. TURNS OUT NOBODY WANTED ALL OF AMERICA'S NUCLEAR WASTE. Would you believe it? Yucca Mountain is first in line to take the waste. I doubt the local community was too supportive... But if we all decide THEY have to take it, then who'd going to stop us?

Nobody lives on Yucca mountain.

So everyone in Nevada that's fighting to keep our waste out of their state should just quit it then? We all know how much of the geology and ecology you study before you make your environmental points (nothing).

you stated local community. I wouldn't define a local community as a state. I certainly wouldn't define the waste being in "one's own backyard", and I certainly wouldn't define the land as belonging to the local community.
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darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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11/21/2012 11:12:39 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Also @socialpinko. I wouldn't define ignorance as a problem, since if the errors are random, then a bunch of misinformed votes would cancel each other out. As long as only a small percentage of voters are informed, or each voter is informed very little, then the net result would be positive.

Of course, the problem isn't random errors, but systematic errors and there are other problems with democracy besides ignorance, but just felt like pointing it out. The rationally irrational model is a better model then the rationally voter ignorance model. If the rational voter ignorance model was correct, then it would lead to a better outcome.
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Kinesis
Posts: 3,667
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11/21/2012 11:50:01 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/21/2012 11:12:39 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Also @socialpinko. I wouldn't define ignorance as a problem, since if the errors are random, then a bunch of misinformed votes would cancel each other out. As long as only a small percentage of voters are informed, or each voter is informed very little, then the net result would be positive.

Of course, the problem isn't random errors, but systematic errors.

This pretty much sums up what I was going to say. The errors largely relate to economics where people prefer overt government intervention over more efficient market mechanisms. For example, it's pretty unanimous among economists that a market should be allowed in organs because that would drastically cut waiting times, but there's a systematic bias against subjecting organs to markets.

Really interesting post, SP.
Kinesis
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11/21/2012 11:59:25 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I suppose you'd need a positive systematic bias to justify an anarchist solution to the FRP. For example, that people would give enough money to charities that build infrastructure and national defense such that society would function reasonably well, because they had a sense of social obligation.