Libertarianism

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SecondTalon
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:37 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Even if only one person drives the tractor in the end, and they vote on who it is, the tractor doesn't become more efficient as a result, and coordination required some time and effort, and will require some on an ongoing basis. The solo operator has no such overhead.

I fail to see a distinction here. John is the Tractor-Master of the Collective, so John plows when he plows, repairs the tractor when it breaks down (and is reimbursed later).

How is that different from Ted, the solo Farmer? Other than needing to be reimbursed for repairs, the function is the same. You plant when you plant, you harvest when you harvest.


If John completely disregards everyone else and controls all fifty farms outright, then yes, he functions like Ted.

In that instance, the other 49 people are irrelevant, and their ownership means nothing.

This does not appear to be the scenario that Thesh was advancing.
How do you think crop farming works? Like, in a collective where - even on geographically separated land - people shared their resources and supplies, outside of emergencies like a literal fire right now, you’re not going to run in to a situation that you don’t have days if not weeks to plan for, with the discussion of what is being planted where happening months in advance, if not a calendar year or two. Lots of farmers run on crop rotations where they can tell you what fields and, barring bizarre weather, what two weeks they’ll be planting a specific crop five years in advance.

Invasive parasites, fungus, and so on? Drought, flood, wind? You follow the news and know a few days if not more for weather, and often just watch the fungus march across a continent, wondering if it’ll be stopped before it gets to you.

There’s a lot of decisions you don’t make because you made them four months ago when you decided to plant X, and you decided on X eight months before that.

My point being that - outside a literal fire - there’s no situation where you need the tractor right now but can’t use it because it’s three fields away. You just wait two days and get it then. No big deal. And in the case of literal fire... the tractor’s probably already on it’s way, and so’s the Fire Department that all those taxes go towards.
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Kit.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:45 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:"It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible", after all.

I think it is a common misconception. "Free market" is not a stable macroeconomic structure, but an idealized state of the market conditions. "No monopolies" is not a consequence of this state, but an a prerequisite to it. So far, at least to me, it looks like - on finite-sized markets - it is an unstable state, and will degrade to monopolies and/or to a systemic intervention from non-market forces.

This hasn't happened with say, farming.

Kinda illustrates my point. Couldn't you find a less heavily regulated and less heavily subsidized market (government subsidies to consumers and producers amount to more than a quarter of the size of the US agriculture market) as your example of "free market"?

Tyndmyr wrote:There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture.

Looks to me that it's government intervention that limits it.

Such a limit does not follow from the free market state alone. Monopolies are more efficient (in the short run) due to the economies of scale, and it is more beneficial for the owners of a handful of well-established players to merge their companies together than to waste resources on advertising against each other.

Regulatory capture is a failure mode, and it is actually easier to cause when the government is small (which is what libertarians advocate).

Tyndmyr wrote:but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.

I don't see how. Monopolization appears to be a natural result of evolution of a system started in a "free market" state, and the government itself is such a result of monopolization of "free market" judiciary services.

Tyndmyr wrote:If it's flat out impossible or not is a cause for some debate, but ultimately, that seems to be mostly theoretical. Pretty much everyone is on board with monopolies being bad, so banning them isn't really a problem.

I don't agree.

First, monopolies might be "bad for...", but they are not inherently bad (as in "evil"). Moreover, by banning monopolies you are limiting choices.

Second, there is no objective criteria for being or not being a monopoly. You are going to give the government the right to decide whom to ban for being the most successful in competition against others, and that doesn't look like free market to me.

Tyndmyr wrote:Still, there's an important difference in that the relationship between health insurance and employment is not intrinsic in the way that wealth/high paying job is. It's a relationship added by incentives via law. If it's an undesirable relationship, which I propose it is, then we ought to rethink how we approach it.

I'm personally for universal basic healthcare. In particular, it's because I think that on a non-regulated market a correlation between "health insurance" and employment is intrinsic: the healthier your are, the stronger are your positions in negotiating employment benefits.

Tyndmyr wrote:The Affordable Care Act has *somewhat* mitigated that relationship, but the overall result of our health care system is still not a very free market.

I don't think that "free market" for healthcare is a good idea: people that need more of it are in general less capable of paying for it.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:00 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I notice you've switched from talking about farmers to talking about retailers.


My understanding was that farms were just an example, and you're claiming bargaining power differences do not matter and that large organizations are generally preferred by the markets because they are actually more efficient, while talking about monopolies in general.

You would probably claim that it actually is more efficient to produce in China and ship here, rather than produce in-country and ship locally and that the reason it's cheaper has nothing to do with bargaining power differences.


Producing locally is usually less efficient. China isn't special in this regard, but yeah, specialization and trade usually is more efficient than doing everything locally.

No one has made claims to the contrary. I've said that where the property lines are drawn have nothing to do with how to best use the land, and that a hundred small farms should be able to act identically to if they were one large farm.


That is incorrect.

The small farm and the large farm will get the same price at the grain elevator(assuming equal quality, same crop, etc). Bargaining power is provably irrelevant. Therefore, bargaining power cannot explain farm consolidation.

A hundred small farms do act differently than one large farm. You can organize them into a collective to do so, but the overhead of organization puts you at a disadvantage.

Thesh wrote:You attribute this all to efficiency, to completely dismiss that the legal structure is more important here than the actual efficiency of the company. The property laws that allow Walmart and Amazon to not have to pay anyone else for the warehouses, while any other retailer has to pay profits to someone else for the rental value of the land itself. That lack of a need to pay rent or a loan itself represents a bargaining power difference, the other profits paid to the third party warehouse represent a bargaining power difference, the lower price purchased represent a bargaining power difference, and if Walmart wants there are a million ways to use their influence to squeeze them out of the supply line. It's about not having to deal with everyone trying to screw you at every single instant, until it's better to just let them buy you out.


It seems you're attempting to redefine bargaining power to mean just about everything.

A small business buying from another small business does not involve rent. Both businesses can own their own property. Even so, they are likely to be outperformed by a large business.

Thesh wrote:It's not just about whether there are other places that sell retail stuff; it's about the products on the shelves; this is especially important if you are a manufacturer. For a lot of products in a lot of areas Walmart does lack competition, and the influence they have is huge. They can largely decide winners and losers in industries. If every single store can decide independently whether to carry a product, they have a lot less power than if a single entity can make the decisions for everyone, and this has nothing to do with economies of scale. When it comes to a place like Walmart, people are going there for "pool toys". It doesn't fucking matter what pool toy you sell, how good it is, what pool toys other people sell. Your noodle might be better than the other noodle, but their customer's don't give a shit. Either you keep on Walmart, or your company is dead.


That's merely one business strategy. Many companies are doing quite well, despite not selling through Walmart. Shit, many have considered pursuing such mass market strategies to be a grave error. Being seen in Walmart can devalue a brand, as people consider it to be cheap junk.

Walmart does not monopolize the retail market. They're a big player, sure. You do not have to deal with them, though.

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If, as you say, this is inevitable, and consolidation never has an upper limit, then why hasn't it already gotten down to that end state? Farming isn't new. Why has it not already transpired?


History is open to the public. A lot of government money goes into keeping small farms afloat. There are also regulations protecting against monopolies.



The vast majority of farm subsidies go to factory farms, not to small farms.

Anti-monopoly regulation is utterly meaningless on the scale of family farm consolidation. Nobody has to file an SEC report in order to buy the neighboring farm.

SecondTalon wrote:How do you think crop farming works? Like, in a collective where - even on geographically separated land - people shared their resources and supplies, outside of emergencies like a literal fire right now, you’re not going to run in to a situation that you don’t have days if not weeks to plan for, with the discussion of what is being planted where happening months in advance, if not a calendar year or two. Lots of farmers run on crop rotations where they can tell you what fields and, barring bizarre weather, what two weeks they’ll be planting a specific crop five years in advance.

Invasive parasites, fungus, and so on? Drought, flood, wind? You follow the news and know a few days if not more for weather, and often just watch the fungus march across a continent, wondering if it’ll be stopped before it gets to you.

There’s a lot of decisions you don’t make because you made them four months ago when you decided to plant X, and you decided on X eight months before that.

My point being that - outside a literal fire - there’s no situation where you need the tractor right now but can’t use it because it’s three fields away. You just wait two days and get it then. No big deal. And in the case of literal fire... the tractor’s probably already on it’s way, and so’s the Fire Department that all those taxes go towards.


It doesn't require a complete disaster for it to be less efficient.

It merely requires that more effort need to be invested. Sure, they absolutely can make a schedule, and they can communicate to adjust in a reasonable time frame for most occurrences. However, the fact that such communication must exist is the overhead. The solo farmer doesn't need it. It isn't a matter of "you can't use the tractor".

As an aside, harvests can be extremely time sensitive. It's not fundamental to my point, but some crops have fairly little flexibility regarding harvest times.

Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:"It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible", after all.

I think it is a common misconception. "Free market" is not a stable macroeconomic structure, but an idealized state of the market conditions. "No monopolies" is not a consequence of this state, but an a prerequisite to it. So far, at least to me, it looks like - on finite-sized markets - it is an unstable state, and will degrade to monopolies and/or to a systemic intervention from non-market forces.

This hasn't happened with say, farming.

Kinda illustrates my point. Couldn't you find a less heavily regulated and less heavily subsidized market (government subsidies to consumers and producers amount to more than a quarter of the size of the US agriculture market) as your example of "free market"?


There's a lot of regulation and subsidies for pretty much every mature market currently. I thought about energy, but trying to pitch oil as unaffected by regulations and subsidies would be laughable. Minerals? *looks at tariffs and such* The most free markets are usually the ones that have just opened up, as regulation tends to increase over time. However, while developing markets are diverse, that is so largely because they are developing markets. It'd be unfair to rely on that as an example for mature markets.

Tyndmyr wrote:There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture.

Looks to me that it's government intervention that limits it.


The original study drew from such disparate places as typical mall layouts, which also tend to adhere to the rule of three. I don't think those are due to government intervention.

Such a limit does not follow from the free market state alone. Monopolies are more efficient (in the short run) due to the economies of scale, and it is more beneficial for the owners of a handful of well-established players to merge their companies together than to waste resources on advertising against each other.

Regulatory capture is a failure mode, and it is actually easier to cause when the government is small (which is what libertarians advocate).


Economies of scale often have ceilings. The tractor is a good example here. The tractor can cover a lot of ground, but there's a ceiling beyond which you need a second tractor and driver. At that point, it doesn't matter a great deal if one of the drivers is in charge of the other. Both are independently driving a tractor and covering ground, there's not really any efficiency gain to be had. So, if you have a bunch of farmers with a bunch of tractors, and they all have to organize for some reason, they're probably losing efficiency to communication at that point.

In this respect I view the rule of three as a guideline. If a market is sufficiently small/niche, it may be that a single player can dominate before exhausting available economies of scale. The larger the market, the less probable this is.

I agree that a small government alone is not enough to prevent regulatory capture. It's a hard problem. After all, the US historically had a small government, and it definitely involved itself in such affairs many times. Smaller is desirable for efficiency reasons, but it's not a panacea.

Tyndmyr wrote:but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.

I don't see how. Monopolization appears to be a natural result of evolution of a system started in a "free market" state, and the government itself is such a result of monopolization of "free market" judiciary services.


Nah, the government is a monopolization of violence. A government doesn't arise and fall based on it's judiciary, it does so mostly based on who can forcibly kick it out. If we'd not managed to win the revolution, our history would have played out quite differently. Guns, not jurors determine this outcome.

When one relies on force rather than markets, there is almost invariably only one winner. One government ends up dominating any given chunk of land.

Tyndmyr wrote:If it's flat out impossible or not is a cause for some debate, but ultimately, that seems to be mostly theoretical. Pretty much everyone is on board with monopolies being bad, so banning them isn't really a problem.

I don't agree.

First, monopolies might be "bad for...", but they are not inherently bad (as in "evil"). Moreover, by banning monopolies you are limiting choices.

Second, there is no objective criteria for being or not being a monopoly. You are going to give the government the right to decide whom to ban for being the most successful in competition against others, and that doesn't look like free market to me.


So, you're pro monopoly? You believe the natural outcome of every market is a monopoly, and you're after that outcome?

If you have only a single seller for a given market, you have a monopoly. That seems objective to me.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:38 pm UTC

Canada disagrees that "guns not jurors wins revolutions" they parted ways just fine.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:53 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Kit. wrote:"Free market" is not a stable macroeconomic structure, but an idealized state of the market conditions. "No monopolies" is not a consequence of this state, but an a prerequisite to it. So far, at least to me, it looks like - on finite-sized markets - it is an unstable state, and will degrade to monopolies and/or to a systemic intervention from non-market forces.

This hasn't happened with say, farming.

Kinda illustrates my point. Couldn't you find a less heavily regulated and less heavily subsidized market (government subsidies to consumers and producers amount to more than a quarter of the size of the US agriculture market) as your example of "free market"?

There's a lot of regulation and subsidies for pretty much every mature market currently. I thought about energy, but trying to pitch oil as unaffected by regulations and subsidies would be laughable. Minerals? *looks at tariffs and such* The most free markets are usually the ones that have just opened up, as regulation tends to increase over time. However, while developing markets are diverse, that is so largely because they are developing markets. It'd be unfair to rely on that as an example for mature markets.

So, you don't really have a counterexample.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture.

Looks to me that it's government intervention that limits it.

The original study drew from such disparate places as typical mall layouts, which also tend to adhere to the rule of three. I don't think those are due to government intervention.

I think it's an expectation that the government won't approve the merger. Otherwise you might still have three department stores with three brand names in three price ranges ("discount", "middle class" and "upscale"), but they would belong to the same owner.

Tyndmyr wrote:Economies of scale often have ceilings. The tractor is a good example here. The tractor can cover a lot of ground, but there's a ceiling beyond which you need a second tractor and driver. At that point, it doesn't matter a great deal if one of the drivers is in charge of the other. Both are independently driving a tractor and covering ground, there's not really any efficiency gain to be had. So, if you have a bunch of farmers with a bunch of tractors, and they all have to organize for some reason, they're probably losing efficiency to communication at that point.

You don't need to have a bunch of farmers at this point. You need a bunch of tractor drivers, but one-two mechanics and one agronomist.

Besides, hardware redundancy becomes relatively cheaper, getting insurance and bank credits becomes relatively cheaper, dealing with suppliers and customers becomes relatively cheaper, and so on.

(and it's not like something that hasn't already happened anyway)

Tyndmyr wrote:In this respect I view the rule of three as a guideline.

I also view "the rule of three" as a guideline. For the anti-monopoly agency.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:but the biggest reason for monopolization appears to be government.

I don't see how. Monopolization appears to be a natural result of evolution of a system started in a "free market" state, and the government itself is such a result of monopolization of "free market" judiciary services.

Nah, the government is a monopolization of violence.

The government holds a monopoly on lawful violence, but it doesn't mean that "monopolization of violence" alone is even a thing. Violence by itself is not an unifying force. To get a monopoly, you need something more.

Tyndmyr wrote:A government doesn't arise and fall based on it's judiciary,

It definitely arises based on its judiciary. It may fall for other reasons, that's true.

Tyndmyr wrote:When one relies on force rather than markets, there is almost invariably only one winner. One government ends up dominating any given chunk of land.

This statement contradicts the facts of human history (or, more correctly, of human prehistory, as "history" already means markets protected by governments' judiciaries).

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If it's flat out impossible or not is a cause for some debate, but ultimately, that seems to be mostly theoretical. Pretty much everyone is on board with monopolies being bad, so banning them isn't really a problem.

I don't agree.

First, monopolies might be "bad for...", but they are not inherently bad (as in "evil"). Moreover, by banning monopolies you are limiting choices.

Second, there is no objective criteria for being or not being a monopoly. You are going to give the government the right to decide whom to ban for being the most successful in competition against others, and that doesn't look like free market to me.


So, you're pro monopoly?

No, I am contra wishful thinking.

Tyndmyr wrote:You believe the natural outcome of every market is a monopoly, and you're after that outcome?

No, I point out that the model of "It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible" is both unsustainable in the positive sense and self-contradictory in the normative sense.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you have only a single seller for a given market, you have a monopoly. That seems objective to me.

Except that the borders of any particular "given market" are subjective.

It is also not a proper definition of a monopoly. Because if you are a single seller, but there are low barriers to entry, you are still not a monopoly. "Low" is also subjective.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:16 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:So, you don't really have a counterexample.


I can't think of any market that is entirely free from regulations or government incentives. I can think of markets that are free of specific kinds of incentives, but all of them? That's a tall order.

Even illegal markets, like drugs, are distorted by government action.

There are historical examples, but they get pretty far from a modern economy.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture.

Looks to me that it's government intervention that limits it.

The original study drew from such disparate places as typical mall layouts, which also tend to adhere to the rule of three. I don't think those are due to government intervention.

I think it's an expectation that the government won't approve the merger. Otherwise you might still have three department stores with three brand names in three price ranges ("discount", "middle class" and "upscale"), but they would belong to the same owner.


For a mall, nothing prevents the same owners from occupying all three anchor spots in a mall. Typically government doesn't have to approve of a retail lease.

Tyndmyr wrote:A government doesn't arise and fall based on it's judiciary,

It definitely arises based on its judiciary. It may fall for other reasons, that's true.


Sardia points out that some have risen via peaceful means...and that's a fair point. But governments have risen without having any judiciary at all. It's clearly not absolutely necessary, even if it's a very common governmental role.

In any case, you don't generally have governments peacefully coexisting within the same land. Where competing claims exist, tension and frequently conflict dominate.

Tyndmyr wrote:When one relies on force rather than markets, there is almost invariably only one winner. One government ends up dominating any given chunk of land.

This statement contradicts the facts of human history (or, more correctly, of human prehistory, as "history" already means markets protected by governments' judiciaries).


What chunks of land are subject to multiple governments?

Not different tiers of the same government, but different governments.

Tyndmyr wrote:You believe the natural outcome of every market is a monopoly, and you're after that outcome?

No, I point out that the model of "It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible" is both unsustainable in the positive sense and self-contradictory in the normative sense.


It's only a problem if you believe that a free market requires no maint, or that all markets are free.

The above is not the case. You need to filter our fraud and force, or markets become unfree quite rapidly.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you have only a single seller for a given market, you have a monopoly. That seems objective to me.

Except that the borders of any particular "given market" are subjective.

It is also not a proper definition of a monopoly. Because if you are a single seller, but there are low barriers to entry, you are still not a monopoly. "Low" is also subjective.


If you're the only seller, a monopoly exists. Yes, the potential for new entrants to the market may be a practical check on the power enjoyed by the monopoly, but if they are not entering the market yet, the monopoly is still extant.

Borders of markets can be subjective, but if you, in your home, have precisely one entity you can purchase electricity or gas or water from, then so far as you're concerned, there's a monopoly on your local market.

Maybe half the town is in a state of monopoly, and the other half is not. That doesn't threaten the definition of monopolization any.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Kit. » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:30 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There is consolidation, to be sure. A mature market is likely to have a handful of players, where as an emerging market may have a large variety of small players.

Consolidation appears to hit it's limit at a few large generalists, and a handful of specialists in many cases. It's difficult to find cases of monopolization without regulatory capture.

Looks to me that it's government intervention that limits it.

The original study drew from such disparate places as typical mall layouts, which also tend to adhere to the rule of three. I don't think those are due to government intervention.

I think it's an expectation that the government won't approve the merger. Otherwise you might still have three department stores with three brand names in three price ranges ("discount", "middle class" and "upscale"), but they would belong to the same owner.

For a mall, nothing prevents the same owners from occupying all three anchor spots in a mall.

How? Which "upscale" department store brand is owned by J. C. Penney?

Tyndmyr wrote:But governments have risen without having any judiciary at all.

Example?

Tyndmyr wrote:In any case, you don't generally have governments peacefully coexisting within the same land.

You do if you manage to deconflict the judiciary systems. That usually involves some sort of hierarchy. The US is one of such examples.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:When one relies on force rather than markets, there is almost invariably only one winner. One government ends up dominating any given chunk of land.

This statement contradicts the facts of human history (or, more correctly, of human prehistory, as "history" already means markets protected by governments' judiciaries).

What chunks of land are subject to multiple governments?

At the moment, such governments are rare and their habitat is protected by governments that do have markets. Mostly in Papua New Guinea and Amazon basin. But they used to be widespread.

Violence alone doesn't build societies capable of dominating any given chunk of lands. You need something more.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:You believe the natural outcome of every market is a monopoly, and you're after that outcome?

No, I point out that the model of "It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible" is both unsustainable in the positive sense and self-contradictory in the normative sense.

It's only a problem if you believe that a free market requires no maint, or that all markets are free.

The above is not the case. You need to filter our fraud and force, or markets become unfree quite rapidly.

No, it's also a problem if you believe that all that you need to protect free markets is "to filter our fraud and force".

Tyndmyr wrote:If you're the only seller, a monopoly exists.

You can define yourself as a "monopoly", but it doesn't mean that the government needs to ban or control you. Maybe you are just innovative. Or maybe your market niche is only sustainable for a single self-employed person.

Tyndmyr wrote:Borders of markets can be subjective, but if you, in your home, have precisely one entity you can purchase electricity or gas or water from, then so far as you're concerned, there's a monopoly on your local market.

But what if I, in my home, have precisely one entity to purchase "an OS for a PC-compatible computer" from?

While I personally use (or don't use) VMS under hobbyist license on DECstation?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:11 pm UTC

JC Penny's doesn't own a fancier version that I'm aware of. But they could. Plenty of holding companies have a range of offerings from high class to low.

Probably unlikely for JC Penny's in particular. It'd be like expecting innovation from Kmart or Sears.

Kit. wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:But governments have risen without having any judiciary at all.

Example?


They are mostly of the terrible, authoritarian sort. France post revolution did away with judges doing any interpretation of the law. It went poorly.

There are also cases where the role sort of exists, but there's no separation of power at all. Saudi Arabia, the king's chief exec, and also head of judiciary. Obviously in such cases, there's still some beaucracy underneath to actually handle the work, but the diversity of approaches is notable. In some cases, appearances are kept up, but the idea that a judiciary is anything other than a function of the executive is a fiction. North Korea is one such state.

There is a high correlation with having a functioning, independent judiciary and it being a nice place to live, though.

So, I don't think having a judiciary is a prerequisite for gaining power. It's just remarkably necessary to making society work out well once you have it. It's a legitimate function of government, but it's not the primary source from where power is derived.

Tyndmyr wrote:In any case, you don't generally have governments peacefully coexisting within the same land.

You do if you manage to deconflict the judiciary systems. That usually involves some sort of hierarchy. The US is one of such examples.


That's a single hierarchy within one government. Consumers do not have a choice of governmental systems.

A company having an internal pyramid of obligations and roles would not suffice to make that company anything other than a monopoly. Consumers would need to be able to choose a different company altogether, not merely call a different department.

At the moment, such governments are rare and their habitat is protected by governments that do have markets. Mostly in Papua New Guinea and Amazon basin. But they used to be widespread.

Violence alone doesn't build societies capable of dominating any given chunk of lands. You need something more.


If they utterly displaced other forms of government, doesn't that tell us something important about where the power lies?

Tyndmyr wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:You believe the natural outcome of every market is a monopoly, and you're after that outcome?

No, I point out that the model of "It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible" is both unsustainable in the positive sense and self-contradictory in the normative sense.

It's only a problem if you believe that a free market requires no maint, or that all markets are free.

The above is not the case. You need to filter our fraud and force, or markets become unfree quite rapidly.

No, it's also a problem if you believe that all that you need to protect free markets is "to filter our fraud and force".


My bad, typo. Out, not our.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you're the only seller, a monopoly exists.

You can define yourself as a "monopoly", but it doesn't mean that the government needs to ban or control you. Maybe you are just innovative. Or maybe your market niche is only sustainable for a single self-employed person.


Modern anti-monopoly laws are in practice unlikely to matter to you if your market is so small as to only support a single self employed person. Tiny niches, sure. It happens. If you're the only one crocheting your particular themed products, fine, the world can live with that.

Concern over monopolization is typically with regard to larger markets. Food, housing, energy, transportation. The more niche the product, the less a monopoly on it matters, because ultimately, the market itself matters comparatively little. The market would still be made more efficient by competition, but if it's sufficiently tiny, it doesn't really matter in many cases.

Tyndmyr wrote:Borders of markets can be subjective, but if you, in your home, have precisely one entity you can purchase electricity or gas or water from, then so far as you're concerned, there's a monopoly on your local market.

But what if I, in my home, have precisely one entity to purchase "an OS for a PC-compatible computer" from?

While I personally use (or don't use) VMS under hobbyist license on DECstation?


There's also the mac OS, the Android OS, plus some obscure options. Yeah, Windows is the market leader, but other options do exist.

This market is probably closer to a monopoly than most. About 72% of the market is windows. However, we do still see the rule of three in that there are only three options that wikipedia bothers to list. The extremely niche specialist operating systems probably impact the market fairly little.

I'd still consider it not a monopoly, but it's worth noting that it's primary contender is unusually popular. The overall state of affairs appears to be relatively stable. Windows is not currently flattening the other contenders.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:23 pm UTC

What we have learned in this thread: Libertarians are just completely uninterested in trying to understand the nature of power, are incapable of considering the role power imbalances play in economic decision making, and have an understanding of economics no greater than "if someone makes money it's because they added value, therefore we cannot question anything", and are unwilling to even consider the physical resources involved.

Which is to say, we learned nothing new at all.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:48 am UTC

That's not true.

For example, we learned that ucim thinks indentured servitude is potentially a totally fine arrangement (though we also learned that he knows very little about how that arrangement worked in practice or about how the military works today).
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:52 pm UTC

Most of the economics stuff discussed wasn't libertarian specific. Libertarians do put a great deal more emphasis on it than many ideologies, but a lot of the concepts tossed about are not in any way unique to them.

There are definitely some different basic economic assumptions between socialists and libertarians, though. Doubt that surprises anyone, but there are some pretty significant divergences at a fairly low level.

The indentured servitude discussion was interesting, but I'm still not quite sure why ucim's so into it. Perhaps he's after the fairly inoffensive principle of payment in advance, and just picked a bad framework for discussing that?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:37 pm UTC

Perhaps? I'm just not sure who the hell could afford someone's labor up front in such a way that wasn't exploitative. Paying someone a half million dollars for seven years of labor, working out to roughly $71,000 a year.... who the hell's going to pony up $71,000 a year?

Part of the whole indentured servitude thing was that it also paid for living expenses, so assuming a $35,000 a year job, which would work out to roughly a quarter of a million a for a seven year period, so if we knock off a third of that for living expenses - food, shelter, clothing - you'd need to convince someone it's worth about $166,000 for seven years of their life.

Which is more or less exactly the same as a $35,000ish a year job offer (with no raises) except with extra stuff tacked on about them being unable to leave your employ. That lack of flexibility, inability to move, ability to have their labor sold, etc.. means that to be fair, you would be paying for a $35,000 a year salary.... to a $30,000 or even $25,000 a year worker.

I can't see any sane businessperson doing that.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:47 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Perhaps? I'm just not sure who the hell could afford someone's labor up front in such a way that wasn't exploitative. Paying someone a half million dollars for seven years of labor, working out to roughly $71,000 a year.... who the hell's going to pony up $71,000 a year?


Yeah. It doesn't seem practical. A more traditional wage seems more reasonable for most things.

I'm okay with say, housing or whatever being provided as part of a wage, if you want to make some such arrangement, but generally an up-front lump sum is going to be more difficult than a scheduled wage. I'm not seeing the desirability of the system.

Maaaaybe as a sort of patch to the paying for college problem, but less risky options already exist there. If you arranged some term of service to pay for your college degree, but then failed out of college, how would that work? There's no reasonable way in which the businessman makes his investment back at that point. After all, the contracted quantity of work is far less valuable if it's unskilled labor, and it would be horribly exploitative to increase the term beyond the contracted amount.

Seems like a lot of risk and trouble.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:37 pm UTC

rewinding back to the topic of unaffordable housing, i just remembered a point i wanted to make back then but forget: a shortage of places to live is not the problem facing the people stuck renting in expensive places, because THEY ALL LIVE THERE ALREADY so obviously there are places enough for them to live in. let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership and the problem is solved. that is why rent is the problem.

also nobody addressed my earlier point about rental investment offsetting ones own housing rent perfectly illustrating how rent is the mechanism underlying growing inequality and shrinking wealth mobility by keeping the poor poor and the rich rich.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:46 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Yeah. It doesn't seem practical. A more traditional wage seems more reasonable for most things.

I'm okay with say, housing or whatever being provided as part of a wage, if you want to make some such arrangement, but generally an up-front lump sum is going to be more difficult than a scheduled wage. I'm not seeing the desirability of the system.

Maaaaybe as a sort of patch to the paying for college problem, but less risky options already exist there. If you arranged some term of service to pay for your college degree, but then failed out of college, how would that work?

Aside from the example of a book advance, or perhaps film advance (how does it work when actors get signed for multiple films - do they get paid in advance and then get sued if they don't do the films?), examples I can think of in the UK might be how doctors, teachers, dentists(?), nurses(?) have to spend a period of service in public hospitals/schools post training.

But if they change careers or leave the country it's not like they have to pay anything back, and it's not like they don't get paid a normal wage while working in the NHS etc. So it's obviously not much like indentured servitude. It's more like a condition of becoming licensed to practice your trade of doctoring/teaching in the UK.

Pfhorrest wrote:let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership and the problem is solved.

There are schemes like that in the UK but obviously they have to be set up like that on the way in; But, sure, the government could buy up a load of private housing as well as build it and then operate a 'rent goes towards ownership' type of model much more widely.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:53 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:rewinding back to the topic of unaffordable housing, i just remembered a point i wanted to make back then but forget: a shortage of places to live is not the problem facing the people stuck renting in expensive places, because THEY ALL LIVE THERE ALREADY so obviously there are places enough for them to live in. let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership and the problem is solved. that is why rent is the problem.

also nobody addressed my earlier point about rental investment offsetting ones own housing rent perfectly illustrating how rent is the mechanism underlying growing inequality and shrinking wealth mobility by keeping the poor poor and the rich rich.


Well, supply and demand are connected to price.

Yes, those people happen to have a place at present. Many others do not. Homelessness is unusually high in California, third highest in the country(the other two are Hawaii and New York, other places with expensive housing). So, it's not true that there are places enough for them to live in.

If renting will result in losing ownership of property, then people will be more reluctant to rent out places. Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it. Renting will become as unaffordable as buying. It hasn't changed the underlying mismatch of supply and demand, so the scarcity driving the price problem won't vanish. First order effects, it does nothing. Secondary effects are negative. The problem will only worsen if you do this.

elasto wrote:Aside from the example of a book advance, or perhaps film advance (how does it work when actors get signed for multiple films - do they get paid in advance and then get sued if they don't do the films?), examples I can think of in the UK might be how doctors, teachers, dentists(?), nurses(?) have to spend a period of service in public hospitals/schools post training.


The US has internships as well, particularly for med school. They are...eh. In some cases not so bad, but in some cases, I do think they can be exploitative. Folks being required to work 24 hr+ shifts during residency is probably unhealthy, and the system as a whole is probably unduly coercive. Also, requiring unpaid internships in hope of maybe getting a paying job later is a bit out there.

At a minimum, I don't think the government ought to be forcing or enabling such systems. Ethically, libertarianism has no problem with volunteer work, but requiring someone to "volunteer" is questionable at best.

Thankfully, there's some progress here.

Probably not a point in favor of indentured servitude overall.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:06 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The US has internships as well, particularly for med school. They are...eh. In some cases not so bad, but in some cases, I do think they can be exploitative. Folks being required to work 24 hr+ shifts during residency is probably unhealthy, and the system as a whole is probably unduly coercive. Also, requiring unpaid internships in hope of maybe getting a paying job later is a bit out there.

They aren't really internships. They get paid the same as anyone else with the same level of experience (eg. someone coming in from outside the UK).

24 hour shifts etc. during residency are something we have tried to phase out - and maybe mostly have by now. They were mostly a cultural hangover ('I did it and survived so why shouldn't you??') - well, they 'why not' is because it's dangerous. We wouldn't insist airline pilots do 24+ hour shifts during training for perfectly obvious reasons; It should always have been obvious doctors shouldn't be doing it either...

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby arbiteroftruth » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:12 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:rewinding back to the topic of unaffordable housing, i just remembered a point i wanted to make back then but forget: a shortage of places to live is not the problem facing the people stuck renting in expensive places, because THEY ALL LIVE THERE ALREADY so obviously there are places enough for them to live in. let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership and the problem is solved. that is why rent is the problem.

also nobody addressed my earlier point about rental investment offsetting ones own housing rent perfectly illustrating how rent is the mechanism underlying growing inequality and shrinking wealth mobility by keeping the poor poor and the rich rich.


Well, supply and demand are connected to price.

Yes, those people happen to have a place at present. Many others do not. Homelessness is unusually high in California, third highest in the country(the other two are Hawaii and New York, other places with expensive housing). So, it's not true that there are places enough for them to live in.

If renting will result in losing ownership of property, then people will be more reluctant to rent out places. Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it. Renting will become as unaffordable as buying. It hasn't changed the underlying mismatch of supply and demand, so the scarcity driving the price problem won't vanish. First order effects, it does nothing. Secondary effects are negative. The problem will only worsen if you do this.


I think when Pfhorrest says "let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership", he means that to also include the non-committal nature of rent. The affordability of buying a home is largely a matter of having the financial security to commit to a 30 year mortgage, whereas a rental lease is reevaluated every year or so.

But it's not obvious to me how one would have a system of gradually buying a home without committing to the full purchase. You could have a stock-based system, where tenants gain an increasing share of ownership over time, eventually being full owners, but it seems like that would get messy if you have a different tenant every year. Past tenants, being partial owners, would rightly expect some share of the rent income, but whoever is actually making the decision to rent/gradually sell the place to the present tenant is going to want to see the same rent income they did when they were the sole owner leasing to the first tenant. We can't just force the primary owner to buy back past tenants' shares, because then renting out your property would be a terrible idea and nobody would do it. And if the past tenants get nothing, it's no better than the status quo.

I suppose you could have partial owners selling their stock to the tenant in order of when they became partial owners, so a past tenant is temporarily unable to access the value of that stock, but will be able to sell it eventually. Still, it would get pretty complicated in some cases.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:26 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:But it's not obvious to me how one would have a system of gradually buying a home without committing to the full purchase.

There are a couple of variants in the UK.

The first version is you rent a house from the government at ~80% of market rate and then have the option to purchase at the end of your rental term. If you choose not to buy then you need to move out. This is sometimes termed 'try before you buy'.

The second version is a shared ownership scheme where you can purchase a percentage of your house from a Housing Association and rent the remainder, with the option to increase your percentage of ownership at any time. If you wish to sell your house but only own part of it, the Housing Association has the right to buy your share from you if they wish, else you're basically just selling your portion of the house and the new owner has the same option as you of renting the remainder or buying it outright.

I don't really have much of an opinion as to whether these schemes are any good, but more options can't really be a bad thing. Ultimately I just think we need a lot more housing built. Increase the supply sufficiently and prices have no choice but to fall.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:05 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:I think when Pfhorrest says "let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership", he means that to also include the non-committal nature of rent. The affordability of buying a home is largely a matter of having the financial security to commit to a 30 year mortgage, whereas a rental lease is reevaluated every year or so.


The closest system to this is buying a house "contract for deed". No bank lending the money, you simply make the payments to the prior owner until you pay it off, or stop making payments and lose all prior investment.

It's less popular these days. You can still do it, but mortgages offer more flexibility for both parties.

You're also going to pay house-buying rates, not house-renting rates. Anything that ends in you owning the house isn't going to result in anything different, I think.

Stock/owning shares in a house *can* be a thing, I guess. It is in some places. You can also have split ownership in various ways. Time shares, land rent...if it's a possible system, someone's probably tried it already. Some of these systems are entirely reasonable in niche circumstances. Contract for Deed can be relatively simple/cheap between two parties that trust each other fairly well, for instance. I don't have any real objection to folks doing things a different way unless someone wishes to force all things to be handled a set way. I just don't think it's really going to remedy a fundamental shortage of supply.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it.

That is the point, yes.

Renting will become as unaffordable as buying.

Maybe technically true, but because the cost of buying will be forced to come down. Landlords who can't be landlords anymore will have no options but either take a total loss on their investment as they now have a worthless house they're not living in and can't rent out, or else sell it to someone else. But nobody else will be buying for investment anymore, because they can't rent it out for profit. Basically, everyone invested in rental housing will dump their holdings to cut their losses. When an investment gets dumped, its price crashes. In this case, it will crash to whatever the market of people who actually need the housing to live in, not as an "investment", can pay -- like the people who were already living in it, who would otherwise be renting.

NB that I'm only discussing housing rent as an archetypical example here, and all this applies to all rent of any kind, including rent on money otherwise known as interest.

arbiteroftruth wrote:I think when Pfhorrest says "let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership", he means that to also include the non-committal nature of rent.

That's not a necessary part of what I meant, but it is an interesting topic anyway. Thing is, buying isn't a committal either. People sell their homes before paying them off all the time -- and get back their equity out of what's left of their sale price after paying back the rest of their mortgage, and then put that equity into a bigger down payment on their new house that will consequently be paid off in the same time period as the old one would have been.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:23 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it.

That is the point, yes.

Renting will become as unaffordable as buying.

Maybe technically true, but because the cost of buying will be forced to come down. Landlords who can't be landlords anymore will have no options but either take a total loss on their investment as they now have a worthless house they're not living in and can't rent out, or else sell it to someone else. But nobody else will be buying for investment anymore, because they can't rent it out for profit. Basically, everyone invested in rental housing will dump their holdings to cut their losses. When an investment gets dumped, its price crashes. In this case, it will crash to whatever the market of people who actually need the housing to live in, not as an "investment", can pay -- like the people who were already living in it, who would otherwise be renting.

NB that I'm only discussing housing rent as an archetypical example here, and all this applies to all rent of any kind, including rent on money otherwise known as interest.

arbiteroftruth wrote:I think when Pfhorrest says "let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership", he means that to also include the non-committal nature of rent.

That's not a necessary part of what I meant, but it is an interesting topic anyway. Thing is, buying isn't a committal either. People sell their homes before paying them off all the time -- and get back their equity out of what's left of their sale price after paying back the rest of their mortgage, and then put that equity into a bigger down payment on their new house that will consequently be paid off in the same time period as the old one would have been.

What's wrong with just increasing the density of residential housing? Replace a house with a 2 story condo that holds 2 condos. Now you let 2 families live there instead of 1. Replace a house with a 4 plex apartment. 4x increase. Put a 20 story apartment complex. Bam, housing problem solved. Of course, property values might collapse, but that's not the problem most people complain about. Nor is the loss of property values as devastating as being homeless.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby arbiteroftruth » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:25 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it.

That is the point, yes.

Renting will become as unaffordable as buying.

Maybe technically true, but because the cost of buying will be forced to come down. Landlords who can't be landlords anymore will have no options but either take a total loss on their investment as they now have a worthless house they're not living in and can't rent out, or else sell it to someone else. But nobody else will be buying for investment anymore, because they can't rent it out for profit. Basically, everyone invested in rental housing will dump their holdings to cut their losses. When an investment gets dumped, its price crashes. In this case, it will crash to whatever the market of people who actually need the housing to live in, not as an "investment", can pay -- like the people who were already living in it, who would otherwise be renting.


You'd certainly get a price drop from the initial dumping, but you'd also reduce the profit margin on new construction. The price can only go so low before new construction becomes a financial loss, and anyone who can't afford that price point becomes homeless (unless you address that with social safety nets). The point is it's not all upside, even for the would-be renters.

NB that I'm only discussing housing rent as an archetypical example here, and all this applies to all rent of any kind, including rent on money otherwise known as interest.


So, in your ideal economy there would be absolutely no financial incentive for a private organization to give loans. You'd have to at least allow enough interest to offset the risk of the borrower failing to pay back the loan, or else loaning money becomes an even worse investment than literally putting your money under a mattress.

It also seems to me that your notion of rent would basically encompass all forms of investment. If the money you already have earns you new money without labor on your part, something is occurring somewhere that you'd classify as rent. The problem is that encouraging people to invest is a good thing. As long as people value the concept of retirement or there are expensive things people need to save up to buy, there will be an incentive to save money. But money under a mattress is value removed from the economy until the person finally spends it: better for society if the money continues to circulate. But the person who actually has that money is already consuming everything they need at the moment, and is deliberately saving up the excess. Investments solve this problem by giving people the option to spend their excess money now in exchange for even more money in the future.

You could replicate some of that with centralized investment programs, but investment strategies, like most things, benefit from the competition of a free market. Especially since the economy you're investing in hopefully includes a variety of competitors in every industry.

You can make an argument against housing rent, in that it's largely equivalent to an infinity-year mortgage in which you're only ever paying interest and never reducing the principle, which could easily be considered an exploitative loan (rent becomes identical to that model if you just add in a commitment from the seller to buy back the house for the original price at any time). But decrying the notion of having *any* interest on loans seems foolhardy to me.

arbiteroftruth wrote:I think when Pfhorrest says "let everyone keep living where they’re living and paying what they’re paying for it but have those payments add up to eventually ownership", he means that to also include the non-committal nature of rent.

That's not a necessary part of what I meant, but it is an interesting topic anyway. Thing is, buying isn't a committal either. People sell their homes before paying them off all the time -- and get back their equity out of what's left of their sale price after paying back the rest of their mortgage, and then put that equity into a bigger down payment on their new house that will consequently be paid off in the same time period as the old one would have been.


It's not an absolute commitment, but the buyer is on the hook for the full value of the mortgage one way or the other. They can pay it off by selling the house, presuming they can find a buyer at a high enough price, but it's still on them to do so. Vs rent, where you have a set lease term beyond which you are guaranteed to have no obligations or debts.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:58 pm UTC

sardia wrote:What's wrong with just increasing the density of residential housing? Replace a house with a 2 story condo that holds 2 condos. Now you let 2 families live there instead of 1. Replace a house with a 4 plex apartment. 4x increase. Put a 20 story apartment complex. Bam, housing problem solved. Of course, property values might collapse, but that's not the problem most people complain about. Nor is the loss of property values as devastating as being homeless.


I think there's a couple problems with this solution.

The first is that rezoning a property from single family home to multi-family is typically... not so straightforward, and especially for larger buildings, often runs into the problem of NIMBYism from other owners in the area who don't want towers popping up at random.

There's a bigger problem is that these type of projects actually take a really long time. Like, in my neighborhood, there's a city plan that ultimately involves replacing a slowly dying mall with multiple high-rises that will ultimately lead to something like 10,000 new desperately-needed homes. The whole project is scheduled to take 25 years to complete at an estimated price of close to a billion dollars. And that's the optimistic schedule of the developers.... with a lot of help from the city to expand water, sewer, electrical, etc. services to accommodate all of those extra homes. It's a big job. They're already behind and they have barely broken ground yet. This project is competing with half a dozen other similar projects in the city, which means that construction resources are stretched really thin. Even doing something like turning a single-family home into a triplex is going to take months, and during that time, there's one less home in the neighborhood that somebody can live in.

Increasing density certainly has its place, but honestly, it's probably a solution that is barely able to keep up with population growth in a lot of cases.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:02 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:You'd certainly get a price drop from the initial dumping, but you'd also reduce the profit margin on new construction.

The cost of construction is absolutely trivial compared to the cost of land, especially when modular construction is a thing. The structure I live in could be purchased new for around one year of my savings. A plot of land to put it on would cost me ten to twenty years savings.

It also seems to me that your notion of rent would basically encompass all forms of investment. If the money you already have earns you new money without labor on your part, something is occurring somewhere that you'd classify as rent.

Nope. Buying something at a low price and selling it at a high price is not rent. That's essentially how businesses function (buy lots of things, including labor, and combine them together into something people will pay more for than it cost to buy them, and do that over and over and over again). Owning a business is not rent. Owning lots of little pieces of lots of businesses is not rent. Buying those pieces at a low price and selling them at a higher price is not rent. So invest in stocks all you want. Fund people doing productive wealth-generating things with your money, instead of just extracting wealth from those who have less than you by virtue of that difference.

Also, consider that you're someone with piles of money you've been lending out for profit, and you can no longer do that. What are you going to do with those gigantic piles of money now? Maybe... pay someone to do something useful to you? Pay someone to do something useful for someone else, at a charge to that someone else that profits you? Or pay someone else who's already doing that kind of thing, in exchange for a share of their profits? You know... employ someone, start a business, or invest in an existing business? In any case, the best use you can get out of your money now involves funding more productive activities, paying people for their labor, generally doing that whole trickle-down thing that conservatives love to harp on about. Rent (including interest) is why that doesn't work. Anything that trickles down just gets syphoned back up again.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:51 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Rent (including interest) is why that doesn't work. Anything that trickles down just gets syphoned back up again.


So... what do you do in situations where people only need something temporarily? Like, say I need to move some stuff from point A to point B, and would like to get a truck for three weeks to do so, are you saying I'd have to buy the truck to do it? What about a business like a hotel? What happens if you need extra money temporarily?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:22 am UTC

Short-term "rentals" would look a lot like actual rent today, but be technically back-and-forth sales of used goods on installment. The "rental company" would be in the business of selling for more than they buy back for, and relying on people to accept the difference and sell back to them for the convenience, but people could always go to the trouble of finding another buyer and selling it to them if they wanted, and then owe most of that back to the "rental company". If you "rented" the thing for long enough, though, you would end up owning it eventually.

There would be a whole spectrum of deals that look like actual rent on the short-term end of the scale and look like the purchases they really are on the long-term end of the scale. If you "rented" and returned and "rented" and returned and "rented" and returned a thing (or a series of things) over a period of time, you'd lose out compared to if you had bought it slowly in one transaction over that same time period, but if you just want things occasionally on-demand, you're free to pay for that convenience from someone who wants to sell it to you like that.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Chen » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:10 am UTC

Wouldnt that just be an obnoxious form of renting that requires more up front capital since you have to initially buy everything each time? Car “rentals” would be particularly onerous.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:37 am UTC

You don’t need capital up front because you just start making payments like you would if you were renting, just after enough payments you can stop. And yeah, it is a lot like rent in the circumstances that rent would be convenient, and less like rent the more the circumstances are ones that rent would be exploitative, which is the point. Throws out the bath water but not the baby.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:02 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The indentured servitude discussion was interesting, but I'm still not quite sure why ucim's so into it. Perhaps he's after the fairly inoffensive principle of payment in advance, and just picked a bad framework for discussing that?
That's the short answer.
Spoiler:
First, I'm not "into" indentured servitude. Primarily I object to judging a concept by using the emotional content of a bad-looking implementation of it. Replies to my comments tended to be deliberate misreadings, for the purpose of amplifying the emotional content of that bad-looking implementation, which at that time and circumstance did not look as bad as it does now, where the need is not there and the alternatives are more plenary. It derailed the thread.

Secondly, even that discussion was derailed by the idea that it was "exploitative". Well, that's a sliding scale; it's tempting to put chattel slavery on one end of it, but this kind of slavery is not one in which the slave ever had a choice. Indentured servitude is something in which the person being indentured had, and made, a choice. That's a difference in kind, not degree. But to the idea of exploitation, every transaction is exploitative. I work for money; if I didn't need the money, I wouldn't be working for it. So, every job and client I have is exploiting my need for money in order to get what they want. They exploit me to the highest degree they can, before I walk away. (Yes, I can walk away. But then, I starve. So, I have to find something that will feed me - leading to more exploitation.) Obviously, this is a matter of degree; I'm not actually in a position where losing a job or client will lead to actual starvation, but some people are. Giving those people a job that pays money is exploitation. So... what? We shouldn't give them jobs? Some jobs involve danger you can't run away from. Others involve committments you can't break. Others involve separation from family. The military involves all three. (I don't have to be an expert in the military to know this.) And while I have never served, I have good friends who have. I'm not as ignorant in the matter as some would like to paint me. And sure, the military is exploitative, but as I said above, all employment is. But (except for the draft), people made a choice to enter the service.

Thirdly, I am certainly trying to distinguish between the "get bennies now, pay over time" concept of indentured servitude, and the abusive treatment that indentured servants received at the hands of law enforcers who thought they were better than them. No, that hasn't gone away; the US presidential election proves it. But that's not what's wrong with indentured servitude, rather that's what's wrong with abusive law enforcement. If you attack the wrong problem, you will get the wrong solution.

Fourthly, we should be careful when we are judging the past by the present, because the future may resemble the past. It's not difficult to imagine a scenario in which people who want to go to Mars, but can't afford it, would enter into a contract similar to indentured servitude to pay for the multi-million dollar cost of getting there on a rocket ship and having their life support being taken care of while they are there, until they can get to the point where they are able to contribute to Mars society in whatever "getting a job" might amount to on an alien world yet to be conquered. Excessively exploitative? Who is really to say except for the people lining up to make the trade?
And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Pfhorrest wrote:Short-term "rentals" would look a lot like actual rent today, but be technically back-and-forth sales of used goods on installment.
That doesn't "look a lot like actual rent today". If it did, there's be no reason not to have actual rent. The difference is, when I rent a car, I can return the car in three days and be done. The rental company is required to take it back. They own the car for the entire period. Short term purchases would not be like that - the "renter" would own the car free and clear for three days, and bear all the risks of bad title, bad maintanance, hidden defects, prior criminal association, etc., and in addition would have to come up with the full purchase price in cash at the beginning of every transaction. Somebody who can't afford a car can still rent one for three days, but that same person can't buy a car and sell it back three days later, after gorking the transmission and keeping quiet about it. Or maybe the transmission was gorked when they bought the car. Who knows?

I see absolutely no upside.

Pfhorrest wrote:You don’t need capital up front because you just start making payments like you would if you were renting...
I don't see any rental company doing this. Remember, you, the renter, own the car. Ownership is pretty powerful. The rental company has nothing but a promise from you, and little recourse. Therefore, the rental company would at least charge you an up-front fee, and would charge far more than the car is worth. They all would. And then why should they buy it back? They don't know what you did to it. Unlike a rental, where you are responsible for damaging their property, in this case they would be responsible for making a poor purchase decision if they buy back a gorked car. So, this is wide open for exploitation.

It is far better to permit the owner of a car to accept payment for the service of allowing somebody to use their property.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:14 am UTC

i've addressed all of this before and i'm not going to do it again, except to say: when you return something to a rental company, if they are going to hold you responsible for damages etc they have to have some way to know if you have damaged it. if they have that, they can just as easily tell if you have damaged it when you try to sell it back to them. likewise the "renter" knowing they're not being given a lemon, and on that note also bear in mind that if they discover they're been "renting" a problematic car, they can always just stop paying and let it get repossessed and be no worse off than if they had been actually renting.

worst case scenario for this kind of arrangement is exactly like rent, and it only gets better from there.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:38 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:...if they are going to hold you responsible for damages etc they have to have some way to know if you have damaged it. if they have that, they can just as easily tell if you have damaged it when you try to sell it back to them.
Uh... no. In the rental case, they hold you responsible for damaging their property. That is their right. When they discover damage further down the line, they still hold you accountable. In the purchase case, they would have to have the car inspected before they "repurchase" it, because once they have bought the car back, it's theirs. As is. Just like once you buy the car, it's yours. As is.

Ok, you find it's damaged; you stop making payments; you still owe the money. Having the car repossessed does not terminate your obligation. Worst case scenario is not at all like rent.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:38 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:i've addressed all of this before and i'm not going to do it again, except to say: when you return something to a rental company, if they are going to hold you responsible for damages etc they have to have some way to know if you have damaged it. if they have that, they can just as easily tell if you have damaged it when you try to sell it back to them. likewise the "renter" knowing they're not being given a lemon, and on that note also bear in mind that if they discover they're been "renting" a problematic car, they can always just stop paying and let it get repossessed and be no worse off than if they had been actually renting.

worst case scenario for this kind of arrangement is exactly like rent, and it only gets better from there.


I think what is actually happening is you're converting rentals into payday loans: They give you an asset worth $X, and you sign a contract that says you'll pay them back $X + Y over some period of time, where, in this instance, the repayment period would necessarily be very short, and the interest rate very high. This might pose a problem for out-of-the-country tourists, say, since they probably wouldn't have good enough American credit for the rental agency to be willing to take the risk on them. As soon as you abstract out the car and just replace it with cash, it's pretty clear what's going on.

There's other incidental problems related to this system, such as that you'd have to overhaul how you want licensing, insurance, and registration of vehicles to be handled to avoid having to send all would-be renters to the DMV as soon as they "buy" their short-term car, and the rental agency to the same upon repurchasing. Hotels would be even worse, since at any given time a hotel could be owned by a couple hundred different people, each of whom is going to need their own land title, insurance, water and electrical services, etc.

I think the best case scenario is that this would work as well as rent. The worst case scenario is that these sort of services wouldn't exist at all because it would be risky/cumbersome to make them work.

[edit]
Also, consider that you're someone with piles of money you've been lending out for profit, and you can no longer do that. What are you going to do with those gigantic piles of money now?


I'm pretty sure that you can must money launder your way around this system using the short-term rental system that you're proposing above. I agree to buy a paperclip off of you for $30000. Then you agree to buy the paperclip back from me for $35000, in monthly payments of $350.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Chen » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:00 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:You don’t need capital up front because you just start making payments like you would if you were renting, just after enough payments you can stop. And yeah, it is a lot like rent in the circumstances that rent would be convenient, and less like rent the more the circumstances are ones that rent would be exploitative, which is the point. Throws out the bath water but not the baby.


But you said I could find a different person to sell it back to if I wanted so it assumes I have some ownership of the thing in question.

Lets say I want to rent a car for the weekend. Costs me $50 per day now. I have no ownership rights to the car and I am responsible (to a degree) for damage to it.

How would this work in the system you are envisaging? I presumably would pay more since I am obtaining some fraction of ownership of the vehicle, plus I am obtaining the right to sell this vehicle at my discretion during the rental period. So questions:

1) The buy to own price seems like it would have to be higher than the plain rental price. If rental is eliminated as an option doesnt this screw people who only want the car short term?
2) The “able to sell to someone else” clause will necessarily need to require a payment to the rental company significantly higher than the otherwise market value of the car, since they now need to replace it and are losing business while they do so. Its similar to point 1) actually because in the “rent to buy” situation again they are, at some point, deprived of the vehicle and need to replace it (more advance warning here so probably a lesser premium). How is it really any different than a car loan with interest?
3) For something like a car how would you actually go about determining WHO gets to buy the car if multiple people “rent to buy” it? What if I’ve paid off 75% of a car and then the next renter just buys it outright?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:27 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Owning a business is not rent. Owning lots of little pieces of lots of businesses is not rent.


Why not? If I own a widget-making company, but I don't actually do any work in that company, am I not renting the widget-making equipment to the employees, who then have to pay me a portion of the revenue in return for the privilege of using my property? Or at minimum, am I not loaning the employees money, which they then use for making widgets, and pay me back with interest in the form of a portion of the profit?

The only difference I can see between rent/interest and absentee ownership of a company is that in the latter case, my profit is based on the company's profit rather than a pre-negotiated rate. That's a non-trivial difference, I'll grant you, but it doesn't seem like some fundamentally different thing. A loan becomes similar if the original terms outline the conditions in which the lender is willing to forgive some of the debt to increase the borrower's ability to pay back what's left. It's just redistributing some of the risk by saying that if the borrower/company gets into financial trouble, the lender takes some of that hit as well, rather than the borrower/company having to bankrupt themselves trying to pay back the funds.

Would you be okay with loans with interest if they were formulated in such a way?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:49 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, it's simply saying that someone can only sell a property, not merely rent it.

That is the point, yes.

Renting will become as unaffordable as buying.

Maybe technically true, but because the cost of buying will be forced to come down. Landlords who can't be landlords anymore will have no options but either take a total loss on their investment as they now have a worthless house they're not living in and can't rent out, or else sell it to someone else. But nobody else will be buying for investment anymore, because they can't rent it out for profit. Basically, everyone invested in rental housing will dump their holdings to cut their losses. When an investment gets dumped, its price crashes. In this case, it will crash to whatever the market of people who actually need the housing to live in, not as an "investment", can pay -- like the people who were already living in it, who would otherwise be renting.


Perhaps in the short term there'll be a rise in sales. However, regardless of if renting or buying, you still have x houses, and x + a ton of people who need to live in houses. Supply and demand remain in a relationship that leads to high prices. So, while you might have short term issues as people adapt to the new situation, you don't ultimately fix the problem. Housing will remain high enough that the "+ a ton" cannot afford to buy.

Only now you won't be able to rent while saving to buy a different place. You've got to effectively rent the place you want to buy, reducing your choice, and effectively removing your own strategy from viability.

As a secondary effect, people will not be motivated to make rental spaces. Unusually high prices might motivate someone to convert a basement or similar into a rental suite. If one literally can't rent without selling, that motivation is gone. So, as a secondary effect, it actually exacerbates the shortage.

LaserGuy wrote:
sardia wrote:What's wrong with just increasing the density of residential housing? Replace a house with a 2 story condo that holds 2 condos. Now you let 2 families live there instead of 1. Replace a house with a 4 plex apartment. 4x increase. Put a 20 story apartment complex. Bam, housing problem solved. Of course, property values might collapse, but that's not the problem most people complain about. Nor is the loss of property values as devastating as being homeless.


I think there's a couple problems with this solution.

The first is that rezoning a property from single family home to multi-family is typically... not so straightforward, and especially for larger buildings, often runs into the problem of NIMBYism from other owners in the area who don't want towers popping up at random.


Those are definitely true. However, a stronger view of property rights means an individual ought to be able to build a larger house on their property, to include more units. So long as no safety issue exists to threaten your neighbor's rights, why should your neighbors be able to prevent you from building a second floor to rent out?

LaserGuy wrote:There's a bigger problem is that these type of projects actually take a really long time. Like, in my neighborhood, there's a city plan that ultimately involves replacing a slowly dying mall with multiple high-rises that will ultimately lead to something like 10,000 new desperately-needed homes. The whole project is scheduled to take 25 years to complete at an estimated price of close to a billion dollars. And that's the optimistic schedule of the developers.... with a lot of help from the city to expand water, sewer, electrical, etc. services to accommodate all of those extra homes. It's a big job.


It's a solution that ought to have been started ages ago, yes. The longer they put it off, the worse it's going to get, and it can only be fixed so rapidly. You can speed development in a few ways, but ultimately, there's only so many construction companies. If building has been historically locked down hard in an area, you're only going to be able to expand the sector so rapidly.

Pfhorrest wrote:Short-term "rentals" would look a lot like actual rent today, but be technically back-and-forth sales of used goods on installment. The "rental company" would be in the business of selling for more than they buy back for, and relying on people to accept the difference and sell back to them for the convenience, but people could always go to the trouble of finding another buyer and selling it to them if they wanted, and then owe most of that back to the "rental company". If you "rented" the thing for long enough, though, you would end up owning it eventually.

This requires a larger pile of capital up front. Every year or two, I rent a shampooing machine at the local safeway. It's convenient. I pay a few bucks, use it, return it. I don't really want to own one, because storage for such infrequent use would be annoying. Buying one and reselling it every time would likewise be more complicated than simply renting it.

For things like vehicles, this goes double. Paying u-haul for a truck on the off occasion I need one is cheap. Buying a truck and reselling it is a great deal more troublesome. Paying 25-100 bucks is no big. Buying a truck requires having lots of cash on hand, or a loan, which you likewise want to get rid of.

Overall, it seems like rent, just with more capital tied up, and more risk of something going wrong.

arbiteroftruth wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Owning a business is not rent. Owning lots of little pieces of lots of businesses is not rent.


Why not? If I own a widget-making company, but I don't actually do any work in that company, am I not renting the widget-making equipment to the employees, who then have to pay me a portion of the revenue in return for the privilege of using my property? Or at minimum, am I not loaning the employees money, which they then use for making widgets, and pay me back with interest in the form of a portion of the profit?


Yeah, the two are effectively similar in broad effect. I don't see a problem with either, but wage labor basically exists for the same purpose as renting. It's far, far easier and less risky. If you have to buy and sell everything you use, your income would become a lot more irregular. Some people are comfortable with such an arrangement, but some people are not, and prefer more regularity.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:17 pm UTC

ucim wrote:The Long Answer

Your Secondly point.

You.. are aware people enter in to agreements all the time where both parties benefit from the arrangement, right? Like, that's the point of employment, self or otherwise - or at least the ideal of it. You provide work for someone who cannot do the work, the person who cannot gives you a sum of money or favor or bag of beans or whatever, you walk away with your payment and the person has their work done. Both parties end up ahead, no one is a loser or exploited.

This isn't a new concept to you, is it?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:57 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
ucim wrote:The Long Answer

Your Secondly point.

You.. are aware people enter in to agreements all the time where both parties benefit from the arrangement, right? Like, that's the point of employment, self or otherwise - or at least the ideal of it. You provide work for someone who cannot do the work, the person who cannot gives you a sum of money or favor or bag of beans or whatever, you walk away with your payment and the person has their work done. Both parties end up ahead, no one is a loser or exploited.

This isn't a new concept to you, is it?


What is your definition of an exploitative transaction? If it's just a transaction with an inequitable distribution of the newly generated value, then nothing in ucim's Secondly point contradicts what you said above. If it's a transaction in which one party or the other is actually worse off than they started, then it becomes much more difficult to argue that exploitative transactions are a common problem in the first place, since people can always just choose not to engage in the transaction unless they're being actively threatened or have been blatantly deceived into thinking it will help them.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:06 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:... Both parties end up ahead, no one is a loser or exploited.
To directly answer your question, no. The idea that both parties benefit is not a new concept to me. But you knew that.
Spoiler:
Some parties end up further ahead than other parties. Sometimes some parties end up much further ahead than other parties, even if both parties end up "ahead" (whatever that means to each party). The person with no job ends up ahead by working for minimum wage, even if the employer ends up further ahead by exploiting the workers need for income. When lots of people are in competition for few jobs, the worker gets the shaft.

Exploitation is a sliding scale, but an emotionally charged word.

My main point is that the thing that was excessively exploitative in indentured servitude was not the concept. It was the enforcement.

The same can be said of [completely different topic] immigration. I don't think anybody really wants completely open borders; countries have the absolute right to set immigration policies. That's kind of what being a country implies. The concept of limiting immigration is not what is responsible for the travesty at the border. Rather, it is the unmitigated and gratuitous cruelty of our new enforcement policy.

I'm sure we can come up with many more examples; the idea is the same. Fix the thing that needs fixing, not the thing that got associated with it. In the case of colonial indentured servitude, the thing that needs fixing isn't the idea of a long term benefits-up-front contract people voluntarily signed up for in order to escape Europe and get to the New World, it's the cruelty of enforcement that occurred in colonial United States (and perhaps the bait-and-switch that may have occurred to induce people to sign up).

These are general and widespread problems that should not be wrongly attributed to a specific type of contract. These same problems exist now in many guises, even apart from that specific type of contract.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:16 pm UTC

Equal how? Exactly equal, or proportional to effort, or to risk, or some mix of the above? I mean, if I'm borrowing money to build a house, I'm putting in more effort, but the bank is risking more money. I wouldn't consider that exploitative. We're dealing in different things, but if our interests align, and we both value the deal as fair, nobody's getting cheated.

I disagree with ucim's assessment of all transactions as somehow exploitative. Yeah, in practice, there are many problems, but not every job, trade, etc is exploiting somebody.

I don't even particularly care if someone else is benefiting from a deal more than me, if we're both benefiting. Hell, one can build a good business relationship off of that. If I sell #object for a one dollar profit, knowing that my customer will sell it for a five dollar profit, what's wrong with that? I want those I deal with to do well in turn, and to wish to work with me in the future. Sure, if far better options exist, like another customer offering a much higher price, I'll take that, but an offer is just an offer. It isn't exploitative unless some other problem exists.


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