A Young Thatcherite's T-shirt
Friday, April 19, 2013
This young chap was sitting near me at the Freedom Association's funeral day gathering for Thatcherites of all parties (and none). As his T-shirt makes clear, when the enemies of freedom prefer state direction to the market, they are supplanting the free choices of all with the decisions of a few.
Perhaps it would be more persuasive if we called it economic crowd-sourcing?
Cheers, Mark. Have one for me while you are at it. B^)
Posted by: Tom | Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 10:27 PM
"are we rejexting the posibility that an idea can be good out of hand or basing our view of ideas upon the reality of history?"
If you're referring to a government idea, my first reply covers them: of course they can come up with good ideas but they get distorted due to the inherent nature of government (through the likes of producer capture, etc.)
"There is an assumption that law can be better provided by market... Perhaps, given infinite time, infinite knowledge, abudance of things, etc etc...."
Why would it need any of those things?
The only assumption here is that law is different to any other service.
The reality is the closer an industry gets to the government, the worse it gets (for example, where the government controls food, people starve). And when the government allows the market to compete, the government loses.
Posted by: Andrew | Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 06:05 PM
You are a crinimal.
Posted by: Mark | Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Yeah... are we rejexting the posibility that an idea can be good out of hand or basing our view of ideas upon the reality of history?
There is an assumption that law can be better provided by market... Perhaps, given infinite time, infinite knowledge, abudance of things, etc etc....
But is this the relity
Posted by: Mark | Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 04:37 PM
The active voice, the one you ideally want to write in, goes "subject, verb, object".
The passive voice, a weaker structure you don't want to use, goes "object, verb, subject".
"The cat sat on the mat" is active. The subject is the cat, the verb is sat, and the object is the mat.
"The mat was sat on by the cat" is the passive version.
You'll be able to spot the distinction the next time our glorious leaders mess something up as it'll be admitted in the passive "Mistakes were made" (and "Lessons will be learned") so they don't have to say they made the mistakes.
But when it comes to sorting the mess out, they'll switch to the active voice "I/We will make sure this can never happen again" so they can take credit for being the person/group to sort it out (and when that turns out to be a disaster the whole thing repeats).
Posted by: Andrew | Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 03:01 AM
"If I disagree with your conception of private property rights, in an area you control, will I not have to shut up and do as I am told?"
No, you'd be perfectly free to take your claim to a dispute resolution organisation.
"because it assumes the real ethical questions away"
No, it focuses on the single most important ethical issue - the use of violence to get what you want. Everything else is secondary to that.
"A market is only as good as the government and rules which back it up"
Yes, if theft and violence are rife then markets fail. So, yes they do need the NAP and property rights enforcing.
But the services of security and law are no different to any other. Meaning the market can provide them better than government.
"We must have some protection from the stupidity of crowds."
And the best way is to make sure they don't have power over everyone else.
"Obviously it doesn't always work."
Again, I agree (I should be studying for a Google certification instead of wasting time here).
And because of this, because people do make poor decisions, they shouldn't be given power over everyone else. Nothing magical happens when someone becomes a politician, they don't suddenly lose all self-interest and become perfect decision makers (usually it's the opposite).
Posted by: Andrew | Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 02:40 AM
That isn't the passive voice -
If it was written in the passive voice it would be - protection must be had. (right?)
Otherwise, a fair point.
Posted by: Mark | Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 01:06 AM
"We must have some protection from the stupidity of crowds"
A dangerous use of the passive voice there, Mark, given that the protection you always propose is from a crowd chosen by a bigger crowd, but magically immune to the stupidity of other crowds. I have encountered several burglars in my life who apparently disagreed with my conception of private property rights. Just because you want your conception backed by state violence doesn't necessarily make it any more endearing than theirs.
Posted by: Tom | Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Ah... the old "non-aggression principle" aka the "It's not aggression when people disagree with me" principle(?).
If I disagree with your conception of private property rights, in an area you control, will I not have to shut up and do as I am told?
The question is not whether we should submit to the arbitrary rule of an individual (of course not) but to which *ideas* we should submit to. The market idea - that we should be ruled by the principle of "no-force" - tells us nothing. The clue to this is in the contradiction in terms. It tells us nothing about the ethical system ("property rights") which are not open to discussion. And because it tells us nothing about this - because it assumes the real ethical questions away - it can be used as a means of defending an inequitable status quo.
A market is only as good as the government and rules which back it up - scepticism is a useful method to find the truth, but it cannot itself be the truth.
I don't really disagree with the second part of what you say here, except to the extent, that the individual isn't really individual or rational, as I wrote above. We must have some protection from the stupidity of crowds.
An example, from my own life. I often waste time using the internet. By disconnecting my internet thing and putting it in the cupboard I can prevent myself from using the internet and do more useful things. I can make a conscious decision to prevent or hinder my unthinking self from behaving in a damaging fashion.
Obviously it doesn't always work.
Posted by: Mark | Friday, May 03, 2013 at 11:09 PM
A rather grand, and weaselly, way of making the standard "We know best - so shut your mouth and do what you're told" point.
And one that's completely refuted by the non-aggression principle and private property rights.
"If the individual is not truly individual, then giving absolute precedence to him might enhance rather than limit the power of bad ideas."
The mistake of an individual is nothing compared to the mistake of a ruling body.
Ideas, both good and bad are tested in the market. The good flourish, the bad fade (of course they'll be exceptions, nothing's perfect).
Not so with the ideas of the ruling elite. Due to the very nature of violent monopoly, even any good ideas they might come up with end up static and rotten, serving the rulers rather than the ruled.
Posted by: Andrew | Friday, May 03, 2013 at 07:38 PM
The British Army in 1915, was composed entirely of volunteers.
If individuals were entirely individual, then the aggregate of many kinds of ignorance might be a kind of wisdom.
And if the actions of men did not influence other men, then they might be dismissed as an entirely personal matter.
But men are not entirely individual - our ideas and passions are not separate from the general direction of the society which surrounds us.
So if we wish to make any comment upon what the individual should do, we must also comment upon what the society should be.
To say that the society should be simply a collection of individuals is to ignore the reality of what an individual human actually is (or at least what they have been up to now).
If the individual is not truely individual, then giving absolute precedence to him might enchance rather than limit the power of bad ideas.
There is a role for the market idea, but this idea too, must be limited.
Posted by: Mark | Friday, May 03, 2013 at 05:05 PM
As always this needs to be a shades of grey argument.
Addiction and short-termism are examples where people often fail to act in their own self interest. Hawkers of crack and payday loans should pay for the damage they often do from their unsurprisingly vast profits.
The solution for such things is simple Pigovian taxation to pay for the externalities and discourage these self harming activity.
The difficulty comes from allowing the statist foot in the door. By conceding these rare human failings we become vulnerable to every whining nutter the left shoves through that door.
The most important thing is to keep the public aware of how much we pay for the services we receive.
If people where given a receipt every time we left an NHS facility we would soon realise how much we pay for relatively mundane treatments. Only then will we realise that we could easily have been treated better and cheaper privately.
If the left has one identifying feature it is that they wish to care for people less clever than themselves. Their fundamental limitation is that such people are truly rare.
Posted by: Diogenes | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Yep. The argument goes people aren't always rational and make bad decisions therefore we need government to make sure everything can run reasonably smoothly. An argument I've heard dozens of time.
And one that's nonsense, as it's saying people aren't always rational so they need other people to tell them what to do. Completely ignoring the rationality of the people they want as masters.
I don't know where the second part of your argument comes from - the free market is a free market for ideas. There will be good ones and bad ones. Yes, some good ones will sink, some bad ones will swim. But overall the results will trend toward the good. As we can see just by looking around - the freer the industry, the higher the quality of goods/service, the lower the price, and the greater the supply and variety. But the closer to government an industry gets the lower the quality of its output, the higher the price, and the less the supply and variety. And when you get to anything ran completely by the government you get poor quality, high prices, seldom any variety, and (a government trademark) queues for supply.
"Extreme market libertarianism" - why is voluntary exchange "extreme"? Surely extremism is using force to get what you want? - comes from the non-aggression principle, the idea that it's wrong to initiate force.
"I think modern history shows us that the best bulwark against extremist/murderous ideas is the modern liberal state - seperation of powers and a somewhat mixed economy."
Not quite sure where this is coming from either. I was commenting on you saying "I have a lot of sympathy with the idea that ideas can be dangerous". It's not just an "idea that ideas can dangerous", it is very real indeed, tens of millions of people have died because of ideas.
But to reply to this comment: What is a modern liberal state? It's certainly not the UK where the state spends 40%+ of GDP and you can be locked up for saying the wrong thing. (And not forgetting the previous government's "idea" about WMD.)
Posted by: Andrew | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 11:35 PM
"No it's not. It's a strawman used by opponents of free markets."
Is it? Well, if the decisions we make are not based on rational thought, why should we believe that those decisions are always to our benefit?
Why should we believe that a decision reached by two people can not have disastrous consequences for another, third party, or the world generally?
And if you do not believe these things, what value does the above quotation have?
"Only with the idea?"
-"I have some sympathy with the reality of ...." would have made a rather odd sentence, don't you think?
I think modern history shows us that the best bulwark against extremist/murderous ideas is the modern liberal state - seperation of powers and a somewhat mixed economy.
Posted by: Chris | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 10:30 PM
"and this rational "new-man" is the assumption behind extreme market libertarianism"
No it's not. It's a strawman used by opponents of free markets.
"I have a lot of sympathy with the idea that ideas can be dangerous"
Only with the idea? Not with the actual reality? Not with the millions of people who've died because of ideas?
Posted by: Andrew | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 04:25 PM
State intervention is the imposition of an idea.
It could very well represent the imposition of rationality by the many, upon their own, unthinking, selves.
The idea may be bad or it may be good - but if you reject state intervention entirely you either require that each man be rational (and moral) at all times (and this rational "new-man" is the assumption behind extreme market libertarianism), or you lose any possibility of a good idea for fear of the bad.
Personally, I have no sympathy for the market-extremist view - I simply think it has no basis in reality.
I have a lot of sympathy with the idea that ideas can be dangerous - but in my opinion, we can have checks and balances against these without doing away with government in entirety.
Posted by: Chris | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 02:52 PM