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Military Industrial Complex

TheAtheistAllegiance
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9/26/2010 10:39:08 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Is the United States Military Industrial Complex the world's greatest threat to peace?

The MIC provides a monetary conflict of interest that intends to keep the world at war, for if peace was to prevail, defense contractors, arms manufacturers, and others would go bankrupt -- as seen with Blackwater in the late 1990's. By keeping the US as a powerful and imperialistic nation on the global scale, blow-back scenarios take place (Terrorism recruitment, etc.), and the cycle feeds itself, resulting in everlasting military conflict.

General Petraeus was recently quoted saying: "This administration is fu**ing with the wrong guy." He was referring to the Obama Administration's attempts to implement an exit strategy for Afghanistan/Iraq.

With these issues laid out, is it reasonable to view the United States Military Industrial Complex as a greater threat to world peace than perhaps North Korea, Iran, or Al Qaeda?
Reasoning
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9/26/2010 10:44:12 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 10:39:08 AM, TheAtheistAllegiance wrote:
Is the United States Military Industrial Complex the world's greatest threat to peace?

Yes.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Sieben
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9/26/2010 10:46:39 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Everything you say has merit. But the military industrial complex is not primarily interested in killing tons of people, it has an interest in war only to increase its revenues. For the last several decades, it has gorged itself on what are admittedly minor conflicts compared to historical wars.

So I agree that the MIC is a force of evil and destruction in the world, but that is not its primary goal. Economic policy is probably more important... I am more afraid of the IMF, USAID, and World Bank policies that encourage violent political takeovers in LECDs. Half a million people died as a result of arbitrary trade embargoes on Iraq after the first gulf war.

I can rant forever on this topic. I'll stop myself short because I'm not sure if there is much interest in details.
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badger
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9/26/2010 1:10:51 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 10:46:39 AM, Sieben wrote:
Everything you say has merit. But the military industrial complex is not primarily interested in killing tons of people, it has an interest in war only to increase its revenues. For the last several decades, it has gorged itself on what are admittedly minor conflicts compared to historical wars.

So I agree that the MIC is a force of evil and destruction in the world, but that is not its primary goal. Economic policy is probably more important... I am more afraid of the IMF, USAID, and World Bank policies that encourage violent political takeovers in LECDs. Half a million people died as a result of arbitrary trade embargoes on Iraq after the first gulf war.

I can rant forever on this topic. I'll stop myself short because I'm not sure if there is much interest in details.

i'm interested.
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Sieben
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9/26/2010 1:58:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'll start with the least controversial examples first:

Shortly after the start of the first gulf war, the UN security council imposed a near-total trade embargo on Iraq. Not only did iraq run short on iPods, food and medical supplies became dangerously low. This reversed the trend of infant mortality rates, among other things. Most estimates put the death figure at 500,000 over 10 years. I say this is an uncontroversial example because there has been great focus and documentation by humanitarian organizations on this topic.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Then, to inject some of my outrage, the POS scumbag americans let the iraqis rot for 5 years before implementing the oil-for-food "programme". Of course, the initial plan was to let "iraq" trade oil for food at a fair exchange rate. And as always, the "programme" that was supposed to be humanitarian really served western business interests. See the article...

http://en.wikipedia.org...

This was all under the guise of "iraq" has gotta do this, or "iraq" is having these problems. It was all pitched without distinguishing between the government and the people, who really shouldn't be held accountable at all... right? It doesn't make a lot of sense to say - "Hey Saddam, you are mean so we are going to starve the people you tax". Whatever. Our corporations benefited, so I guess its worth it.

*******
Onto the International Monetary Fund. Don't let the name fool you, the US is the largest owner of the IMF. They lend money to "developing" countries on the condition that the country adopts certain economic policies. These are called Structural Adjustment Programs (SACs). They often contain numerous, mutually exclusive clauses, so when countries fail to meet the SAC goals the IMF imposes even more restrictions, or imposes mandates on the economy that favor western business interests.

I presume we have all heard about these countries running into water shortages after privatizing their water supplies. Well what happened was some country failed to pay the interest on its loans or didn't mean SAC goals, so the IMF forced the country to let a western corporation take over its water supply. Because private is better right? Well the IMF makes it a monopoly, so they restrict output and raise prices. Woohoo.

In case there is any doubt left in anyone's mind that the IMF is just a shill for western interests, the IMF supports dictatorships over democracies, probably because they can get more goodies out of dictatorships. Dictators will take out tons of loans that they can't ever hope to pay back. The citizens and natural resources are essentially collateral, which the IMF is happy to divvy up to its friends when the dictator fails to pay up.

Its mostly in the wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org...

*******
USAID is essentially the same, except it is entirely US owned. Just glancing quickly at the wikipedia article, 40% of the aid it gives to countries mysteriously comes back to US corporations via lucrative contracts etc. http://en.wikipedia.org...

******
I've typed long enough. I'll say that the World Bank does not appear to have as sinister motivations as what I've been mentioning, but has certainly done significant harm. I've linked a lot of articles and text, so here's a video if you prefer. http://www.watchonscreen.com...

Some key stats from the video are that the World Bank has poured $400bn since 1970 into Africa, and Africa's economy has actually contracted. One major reason why is that the World Bank constructs investment quotas for countries. So, they might decide that Nigeria should allocate 5% of its GDP to investment, and if it fails to do that the WB will make up the gap. Of course, this provides an incentive for leaders to kill their investment as much as possible in order to maximize the aid they get from the WB. Talk about unintended consequences...

********
To conclude, I'll shamelessly inject some of my politics. Even if you think the Free Market and Free Trade are all lousy ideas and we'll all end up the slaves of corporations, it can't be worse than the status quo. The majority of the world is already enslaved and exploited by corporations who use government. Free market economists have only a very modest claim: that things would improve if you stopped pointing guns in everyone's face. Let's agree?
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Reasoning
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9/26/2010 4:53:26 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 4:49:21 PM, TPF wrote:
There are far worse issues to worry about than the "mic".

Name one.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
TPF
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9/26/2010 5:08:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 4:53:26 PM, Reasoning wrote:
At 9/26/2010 4:49:21 PM, TPF wrote:
There are far worse issues to worry about than the "mic".

Name one.

The Fed.
Caramel
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9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.
no comment
TPF
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9/26/2010 11:01:10 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Try again.
Caramel
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9/26/2010 11:13:56 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 11:01:10 PM, TPF wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Try again.

OK, trying again... Yup, still capitalism.
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TPF
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9/26/2010 11:25:45 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 11:13:56 PM, Caramel wrote:
At 9/26/2010 11:01:10 PM, TPF wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Try again.

OK, trying again... Yup, still capitalism.

Market failure is a myth propagated by government intervention.
djsherin
Posts: 343
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9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Define market failure and show how government can fix it.

As to your point on banks, I'm not sure how alleged market failure leads to the creation of banks. The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.
feverish
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9/27/2010 5:13:18 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM, djsherin wrote:
The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.

Nah, the role of a bank is to make profit for it's share holders.
Sieben
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9/27/2010 6:44:46 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
The role of any institution is to benefit its constituents.

Def Market Failure as a situation where individual rationality leads to sub optimal outcomes

Example: War time. We are all getting ready to fight the big bad enemy. If we all stand, we might win but I also might die. If I run and everyone else stands, I'll probably survive.

I should run.

Everyone calculates that this option is in their own best interest. We all run and most of us die.

So market failures exist. And sometimes changing the rules of the game lead to very different outcomes - example, adding a guy who shoots runners. So market failures are bad for everyone, and create a massive profit opportunity for their solution. Hence creative work arounds to provide lighthouses and radio broadcasts.

But let's consider the case of voting. It is costly to really figure out which policies are best. You have to do at least a couple hours of research. The chance that your vote will decide the election is very small. It doesn't make sense to invest a lot of time into voting. Each individual calculates that it is not in their best interest to vote intelligently. Everyone takes this option, and democracy fails.

So "market failure", the situation where individual rationality leads to bad outcomes, is much worse on the political "market" than the free market.

Advocates of government intervention essentially subscribe to the "floating bill" theory of civics. The idea that some metaphysical third party will do exactly what they are supposed to.

Instead of assuming that regulators will always make the right decisions, you should be trying to figure out which laws will be profitable to make and what their consequences are.

(Paraphrased heavily from David D. Friedman)
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djsherin
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9/27/2010 8:57:01 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 5:13:18 AM, feverish wrote:
At 9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM, djsherin wrote:
The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.

Nah, the role of a bank is to make profit for it's share holders.

Of course, but that's the role of many businesses, and profit (not necessarily monetary) in general is the goal of all businesses. I was merely pointing out what banks do to make profit while addressing the idea that they exist due to market failure.
Caramel
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9/27/2010 11:18:42 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/26/2010 11:25:45 PM, TPF wrote:
At 9/26/2010 11:13:56 PM, Caramel wrote:
At 9/26/2010 11:01:10 PM, TPF wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Try again.

OK, trying again... Yup, still capitalism.

Market failure is a myth propagated by government intervention.

LOL - that's a good one!
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innomen
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9/27/2010 11:22:54 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 11:12:52 AM, comoncents wrote:
Dwight Eisenhower


Coined this word right?

Yeah, beware of... odd coming from a general no?
Caramel
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9/27/2010 12:07:01 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM, djsherin wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Define market failure and show how government can fix it.

Public resources, tragedy of the commons, externalities, monopolies... As far as explaining "how government can fix it," I wouldn't necessarily say they do "fix" it, as you are likely to contend that government doesn't perform that function particularly well. All I would say instead is that capitalism creates the problem, which necessitates government to try and fix it DX

As to your point on banks, I'm not sure how alleged market failure leads to the creation of banks. The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.

Well, there isn't a well-defined line where formal market failures end and the hazy inefficiencies of capitalism begin. We could talk about nearly any sector of the economy and present inefficiencies and failures of the market and issues with competition in general (e.g., maintaining "perfect competition," addressing "the problem of information," etc.)... Banks represent a failure in the sense that they are administrative entities designed to fill a function in capitalism that wouldn't otherwise be needed in a non-capitalistic system. Problems like "the Fed" are not problems (in my view) with they way we are running our capitalistic system, it is a problem inherent in capitalism itself.
no comment
Sieben
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9/27/2010 12:36:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
How is the government forcing us to use federal reserve notes and outlawing competing sound currencies part of the free market.

There are numerous ventures that have been shut down by the government. The free market is trying to solve the banking problem but keeps being attacked.

http://www.libertydollar.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
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djsherin
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9/27/2010 12:40:59 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 12:07:01 PM, Caramel wrote:
At 9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM, djsherin wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Define market failure and show how government can fix it.

Public resources, tragedy of the commons, externalities, monopolies... As far as explaining "how government can fix it," I wouldn't necessarily say they do "fix" it, as you are likely to contend that government doesn't perform that function particularly well. All I would say instead is that capitalism creates the problem, which necessitates government to try and fix it DX

As to your point on banks, I'm not sure how alleged market failure leads to the creation of banks. The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.

Well, there isn't a well-defined line where formal market failures end and the hazy inefficiencies of capitalism begin. We could talk about nearly any sector of the economy and present inefficiencies and failures of the market and issues with competition in general (e.g., maintaining "perfect competition," addressing "the problem of information," etc.)... Banks represent a failure in the sense that they are administrative entities designed to fill a function in capitalism that wouldn't otherwise be needed in a non-capitalistic system. Problems like "the Fed" are not problems (in my view) with they way we are running our capitalistic system, it is a problem inherent in capitalism itself.

How exactly do you define capitalism? I don't want to end up arguing due to a lack of understanding of the other's definition.

What are public resources (I'm not asking sarcastically)? The tragedy of the commons is solved through property rights, I'm not sure how that's a "market failure" though. Positive externalities aren't a problem. Negative externalities usually result from a lack of property rights. Free market monopolies aren't necessarily a bad thing, nor have they ever really existed (there is always some competition). You're right that I don't believe government can or should try to solve alleged market failures. Generally I see what people call market failures as the failure of the government to adequately secure property rights.

Neoclassical perfect competition is neither optimal nor realistic. It's simply a model stating what will happen with a given set of assumptions. For instance, it assumes perfect information, homogeneous goods, and many buyers and sellers. If this described the real world, then advertising, product differentiation, and firms gaining "market share" would necessarily be inefficient. However these aren't good assumptions for the real world. Information is always "imperfect". Homogeneity in products isn't something most people find particularly desirable which to a large degree explains why firms go about differentiating their products. Many buyers and sellers isn't necessary for a market to be competitive. Large firms are often better suited to bring consumers the products they want at lower cost/higher quality. To break up these firms simply because they are large does not promote efficiency.

The bank has existed in some way or another in almost every society. It's simply an institution which safeguards money and/or acts as a credit intermediary connecting savers with borrowers. When you say they only exist in capitalistic societies, that could be true depending on the definition of "capitalistic". If it means free market, laissez faire then that isn't true. Banks can exist in whatever kind of society people demand those services. If capitalistic means a society of capitalists (people who provide capital, i.e. savers), then technically it's true that banks can only exist in capitalistic societies. But every major society saves to some degree.
djsherin
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9/27/2010 1:08:52 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
"Problems like "the Fed" are not problems (in my view) with they way we are running our capitalistic system, it is a problem inherent in capitalism itself."

I'm curious to know why you think the Fed is a problem inherent in capitalism.
Sieben
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9/27/2010 1:19:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Interesting side note on the fed and free market:

Some neoclassicals pointed out to us that Austrian Business Cycle Theory assumes that businessmen can be repeatedly fooled by the same trick - artificially expanding and contracting certain industries via loans. This contradicts neoclassical rationality, which says that over time, markets will improve because the savviest market participants will gain control or ownership of all the capital and put it to the best use.

There are many reasons why the current system cannot correct these mistakes. The current system is essentially a prisoner's dilemma problem (I can elaborate on that more of anyone is interested) and has no easy solution.

Except! If there were allowed competing currencies. The Market would kick the Fed's @$$ in ten seconds. No one would use depreciating bills if they had an alternative. So we don't have to END THE FED, we just need to get rid of legal tender laws and the capital gains tax (maybe just on precious metals as a bare minimum).

Later, I discovered this publication which greatly expanded on this thesis: http://www.gmu.edu...
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djsherin
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9/27/2010 1:26:19 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 1:19:25 PM, Sieben wrote:
Interesting side note on the fed and free market:

Some neoclassicals pointed out to us that Austrian Business Cycle Theory assumes that businessmen can be repeatedly fooled by the same trick - artificially expanding and contracting certain industries via loans. This contradicts neoclassical rationality, which says that over time, markets will improve because the savviest market participants will gain control or ownership of all the capital and put it to the best use.

There are many reasons why the current system cannot correct these mistakes. The current system is essentially a prisoner's dilemma problem (I can elaborate on that more of anyone is interested) and has no easy solution.

Except! If there were allowed competing currencies. The Market would kick the Fed's @$$ in ten seconds. No one would use depreciating bills if they had an alternative. So we don't have to END THE FED, we just need to get rid of legal tender laws and the capital gains tax (maybe just on precious metals as a bare minimum).

Later, I discovered this publication which greatly expanded on this thesis: http://www.gmu.edu...

Sieben,
Can you expand on the prisoner's dilemma problem?
Sieben
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9/27/2010 1:31:38 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
So basically an FRB creates all these new loanable funds for the market. Problem is that they cause price distortions and you can't tell which prices are rising due to supply/demand and which are just price inflation. Since firms rely on prices to measure profits, they'll invest in the wrong industries.

None of this would happen if everyone ignored the new money. If no one took out loans, there'd be no price distortions, you'd have no ABC, and everyone would be better off.

But each individual can gain more by "defecting" on this deal. If they get some new money, their position within the market is advanced significantly, and everyone is only harmed a little because it only causes minor price distortions.

Since individuals don't control what the group does, each individual defects and you get "market failure". FRB is just a race to get in on newly created money. Your purchasing power will die if you don't.
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Caramel
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9/27/2010 2:05:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/27/2010 12:40:59 PM, djsherin wrote:
At 9/27/2010 12:07:01 PM, Caramel wrote:
At 9/27/2010 12:01:57 AM, djsherin wrote:
At 9/26/2010 9:47:22 PM, Caramel wrote:
I blame capitalism for all of this... Capitalism creates the need for government, through market failures, and it also creates the need for institutions like banks which turn into the problematic entities you are describing.

Define market failure and show how government can fix it.

Public resources, tragedy of the commons, externalities, monopolies... As far as explaining "how government can fix it," I wouldn't necessarily say they do "fix" it, as you are likely to contend that government doesn't perform that function particularly well. All I would say instead is that capitalism creates the problem, which necessitates government to try and fix it DX

As to your point on banks, I'm not sure how alleged market failure leads to the creation of banks. The role of a bank is to hold depositors' money, make loans as an intermediary, or some combination of the 2.

Well, there isn't a well-defined line where formal market failures end and the hazy inefficiencies of capitalism begin. We could talk about nearly any sector of the economy and present inefficiencies and failures of the market and issues with competition in general (e.g., maintaining "perfect competition," addressing "the problem of information," etc.)... Banks represent a failure in the sense that they are administrative entities designed to fill a function in capitalism that wouldn't otherwise be needed in a non-capitalistic system. Problems like "the Fed" are not problems (in my view) with they way we are running our capitalistic system, it is a problem inherent in capitalism itself.

How exactly do you define capitalism? I don't want to end up arguing due to a lack of understanding of the other's definition.

What are public resources (I'm not asking sarcastically)?

Military, for example. If I choose not to use my purchasing power to spend on military, how can it single me out and not protect me from, say, N Korea? The market, in this service, "fails." You can try to come up with some ridiculous or complicated method to try and make up for this incompatability, but you will fail without government intervention.

The tragedy of the commons is solved through property rights, I'm not sure how that's a "market failure" though.

Oh really... So who "owns" the tuna in the ocean? Who do I pay for the right for tuna's shares? If we just leave them as they are and fish them, then you will destroy them for everyone, and the market has no mechanism, in and of itself, to give one company an incentive not to overfish - if any company makes this decision, it will be outperformed by the other companies and fail why they pick up the slack and destroy the fish population. The free market, therefore, incentivizes us to kill the chicken before it lays its golden egg.

Positive externalities aren't a problem. Negative externalities usually result from a lack of property rights.

Pollution cannot be solved by assigning more property rights. I would like to see you explain to the Mexicans that used to be able to fish the Rio Grande south of the US border that externalities are solved with property rights, as we consider the Rio Grands our "property" until it flows into their country... Problem is, we use all the water before it gets to Mexico. Pretty convenient for us, eh?

Free market monopolies aren't necessarily a bad thing, nor have they ever really existed (there is always some competition).

So how do we make a free market for electricity? Are you going to just take out a loan and build a coal-fired power plant in a city that already has one, in order to let customers compete?

You're right that I don't believe government can or should try to solve alleged market failures. Generally I see what people call market failures as the failure of the government to adequately secure property rights.

A convenient definition, but as we shall soon see, blaming the government for market failures is like blaming the DEA for not curbing drug use.

Neoclassical perfect competition is neither optimal nor realistic.

Which is a good reason why capitalism fails, because once you start limiting our freedom of choice, inefficiency and inequity start to grow.

It's simply a model stating what will happen with a given set of assumptions. For instance, it assumes perfect information, homogeneous goods, and many buyers and sellers.

Which is why capitalism looks so good on paper, but doesn't work out that way in real life when these attributes are far from perfect.

If this described the real world, then advertising, product differentiation, and firms gaining "market share" would necessarily be inefficient.

It is inefficient anyway. Marketing takes the problem of information and makes it worse. Salesmen alter people's natural tendencies through manipulation and intimidation, and then people like you tell me they are acting "freely." People should be able to learn about all of the products through a medium that does not present barriers to entry, present manipulative formats, and only give info about the most popular brands - but this medium cannot and willnot ever exist in capitalism; of this I am completely convinced. Even if we were to privatize the spread of info in order to facilitate it, we would still run into the same old conflicts of interest we started with (the rich companies would own and operate these services).

However these aren't good assumptions for the real world. Information is always "imperfect". Homogeneity in products isn't something most people find particularly desirable which to a large degree explains why firms go about differentiating their products. Many buyers and sellers isn't necessary for a market to be competitive. Large firms are often better suited to bring consumers the products they want at lower cost/higher quality. To break up these firms simply because they are large does not promote efficiency.

Your excuses for why we should let capitalism slide don't make me feel any better about it, personally. I would like to see capitalism disbanded.

The bank has existed in some way or another in almost every society. It's simply an institution which safeguards money and/or acts as a credit intermediary connecting savers with borrowers. When you say they only exist in capitalistic societies, that could be true depending on the definition of "capitalistic". If it means free market, laissez faire then that isn't true. Banks can exist in whatever kind of society people demand those services. If capitalistic means a society of capitalists (people who provide capital, i.e. savers), then technically it's true that banks can only exist in capitalistic societies. But every major society saves to some degree.

Saves what? Grains? Water? These things don't require banks. Only currency requires a bank. If they don't use currency, they don't need a bank.
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djsherin
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9/27/2010 3:02:11 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
"Oh really... So who "owns" the tuna in the ocean? Who do I pay for the right for tuna's shares? If we just leave them as they are and fish them, then you will destroy them for everyone, and the market has no mechanism, in and of itself, to give one company an incentive not to overfish - if any company makes this decision, it will be outperformed by the other companies and fail why they pick up the slack and destroy the fish population. The free market, therefore, incentivizes us to kill the chicken before it lays its golden egg."

No need for sarcasm, we're just having a conversation. In our current system Tuna aren't allowed to be owned. Governments don't allow ownership of the oceans. In a libertarian or free market society, they would be owned by whoever homesteads them. Figuring out how to stake out who owns what is the job of entrepreneurs. With schools of fish, large areas could be netted off or a certain number of the fish could be tagged (like branding for cattle). I'm These are just ideas off the top of my head. I'm not expert in how to apply property rights but there have been some pretty ingenious things throughout the centuries. What you're saying is true if property rights aren't allowed to be established. If they are then the problem goes away.

"Pollution cannot be solved by assigning more property rights. I would like to see you explain to the Mexicans that used to be able to fish the Rio Grande south of the US border that externalities are solved with property rights, as we consider the Rio Grands our "property" until it flows into their country... Problem is, we use all the water before it gets to Mexico. Pretty convenient for us, eh?"

I don't see why not. For instance, individual cars emit minimal amounts of pollution but collectively can cause reduced air quality. How does one go about seeking damages from the individual driver? One possible way works as follows. Property owners could sue road owners for allowing polluters to travel on their roads. It would then be up to the road owners to charge more for cars which pollute more. When roads were private in America, the owners would charge travelers more if their wagons/carriages/etc. had thin wheels (because they wore out the roads faster than wider wheels). If you're curious about how private roads might work in today's system I'd be happy to address that as best I can. Walter block has a magnificent book called "The Privatization of Roads and Highways" that I highly recommend. The beauty of the market is that precisely because nothing is imposed, people find incredible ways of solving problems that people otherwise believe impossible to solve.

"So how do we make a free market for electricity? Are you going to just take out a loan and build a coal-fired power plant in a city that already has one, in order to let customers compete?"

Doesn't have to be a coal fired power plant. But yes, that's what happened in many cases before government legislation monopolized utilities. Just because start up costs seem prohibitive to the average person doesn't mean they necessarily are. And you don't necessarily have to take out a loan. You can issue stocks or bonds, or pitch your idea directly to investors.

"A convenient definition, but as we shall soon see, blaming the government for market failures is like blaming the DEA for not curbing drug use."

Not as I see it. I'm assuming the government is in charge of property rights. Market failure almost always arises out of some failure to secure property rights. Take oil spills for instance. When an oil tanker gets into some accident where oil starts spilling into the ocean, governments have decreed that the damages the company owes is limited to the value of the ship and the cargo. Actual damages by the oil spill FAR exceed these costs thus the company does not fully pay for its damages and thus has a diminished incentive to take measures like double hulling, or buying insurance against possible oil spills, or investing in technology that helps clears the ocean of oil after a spill.

"Which is a good reason why capitalism fails, because once you start limiting our freedom of choice, inefficiency and inequity start to grow."

I don't really know what you mean by this. I said neoclassical perfect competition is unrealistic. How does that statement limit our freedom of choice? There are other (much better) theories of competition and welfare measures than the neoclassical approach.

"Which is why capitalism looks so good on paper, but doesn't work out that way in real life when these attributes are far from perfect."

You're misunderstanding what I'm saying. Capitalism or the free market is poorly described by neoclassical economics. I'm saying neoclassical microeconomics does a poor job of adequately describing the real world free market and I'm saying that even on paper, its outcomes aren't even that good. Other theories of competition do a much better job of describing the real world and the outcomes they achieve are better on paper (and in practice). Neoclassical economics does not have a monopoly on telling what the free market is.

"It is inefficient anyway. Marketing takes the problem of information and makes it worse. Salesmen alter people's natural tendencies through manipulation and intimidation, and then people like you tell me they are acting "freely.""

Firstly there are many types of advertising. When I put up a sign for a garage sale I am advertising because people won't know about my garage sale (imperfect information) unless they happen to walk by. Similarly, businesses need to get their name and product out there in order to expose people to what they have to sell. If they have sales, the only way to get this information to consumers is by advertising. Even in store advertising is important (flashy signs saying 50% off). It's true that there is advertising that is designed to get the consumer to buy a product he may already know about by convincing him he "needs" it. But the store owner isn't using force to make the consumer buy his product. If the advertising lies about the product, that is fraud and thus illegitimate. It also damages that businesses reputation. Likewise salesmen who use intimidation are acting in an illegitimate manner. I've never had a salesperson intimidate though. That may work in the short term but it does damage to that company in the long run. Would you go back to a business that threatened you? I don't think most people would.

"People should be able to learn about all of the products through a medium that does not present barriers to entry, present manipulative formats, and only give info about the most popular brands - but this medium cannot and willnot ever exist in capitalism; of this I am completely convinced. Even if we were to privatize the spread of info in order to facilitate it, we would still run into the same old conflicts of interest we started with (the rich companies would own and operate these services)."

I agree that people should be able to learn about products from non biased sources. This is where rating agencies come into play. When I look up info about certain products or restaurants on the internet, I'm making use of a free market form of rating. Whether its just people posting about the product/restaurant or whether it's a professional rating company, they are both part of the free market. If a rich rating company wants to stay in business, it is directly against its interest to give misinformation to consumers because its reputation will be shot after that.

I'm running out of room so I'll respond to the last bit in another post.