Libertarianism

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ucim
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:47 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:It's called a welfare trap, and a basic income avoids it.
So does a graduated benefits fadeout. The issue here isn't with means testing, it's with the sharp cutoff. Basic income is not the only way to fix it.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:21 am UTC

What is the practical difference between welfare available in progressively larger amounts to people with progressively lower incomes, and a basic income funded by an income tax (as any would have to be to for there to be any point to it)? It amounts to exactly the same thing. Except maybe less overhead, since instead of having to apply for welfare and show them your taxes to see how much you qualify for, the government, who already has your tax info, just gives you the benefit you would qualify for automatically.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:03 am UTC

What is the practical difference between welfare available in progressively larger amounts to people with progressively lower incomes, and a basic income funded by an income tax (as any would have to be to for there to be any point to it)?

Welfare comes with restrictions, usually to force people into employment. Be available for work at short notice, apply (with proof) for jobs at regular intervals, take any job offer that meets certain standards (with the standards going down over time), obligatory retraining programs, sometimes even obligatory make-work.

There is a very large group of voluntarily unemployed people, who are not eligible for unemployment benefits because they do not comply with those restrictions). They would be eligible for a basic income. Stay at home parents, people in early retirement or with some other source of non-work income, students, people who work part-time by choice, or who take extensive breaks between jobs.

Just look at the statistics for workforce as percentage of working-age population. The key difference between a welfare system and a basic income system, is that a basic income sends money to voluntarily unemployed (or underemployed) people. A lot of money, in aggregate. It's quite a demand to raise taxes for that goal.
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EDIT: some rough numbers. Of people between 15 and 65 in the Netherlands,

40% has a full-time job ( atleast 36 hr/week).

36% is partially employed (ranging from 12hr/week to 36 hr/week). Some of these might receive benefits as "partially unemployed", or "partially disabled", most do not. Some part-time workers still earn enough that they would be net payers into a basic income scheme. Though obviously a lot less than among the full-timers

4% is officially unemployed (works less than 12 hours, avialable to work more)

20% is "not in the workforce" (works less than 12 hours, not available to work more). Some of those will be on (partial or full) disability benefits or receive a student grant, but most are not.
----------------------------------------------------------------
These numbers are not enough for a precise calculation. They do make already clear that a basic income covers far more people than the existing social insurance system (roughly the sum of unemployment benefits + welfare + disability benefits + student grants + child support).

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:23 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Yes, abstract property is different from physical property, but abstract property still has value, and allowing others to use abstract property can reduce its value, and can cause actual harm to others.


So? Painting my house the "wrong" color can cause my neighbours property to be less valuable and thus cause them "harm" (if we accept reducing the ability of someone to accrue additional profit at some nebulous point in the future as "harm" which is also debateable)

Neither is a particularly good argument for eliminating a persons freedoms to reshape their personal resources.

ucim wrote:There are many limitations on the ability of others to use objects they possess. I have a camera, but I may not use it to take upskirt photos. I have a computer, but I may not use it to crack into the IRS and download your tax returns. I have a radio transmitter, but I may not use it to transmit anything without the proper licenses. So, given that it is accepted (you do accept these, do you not?) to limit the use of objects you possess for these reasons, what is different about limiting the use of objects you possess for reasons of infringment on rights of others in abstract property?


The others have a worthwhile justification for limiting them - they are a "clash of freedoms' issue. Intellectual property "rights" are not - you do not experience even the slightest limitations in your own freedoms by abolishing them. You can still create and produce, or not create and produce, whatever you wish. It simply modifies what those decisions are worth. Which is something that literally every action we take every day does. Abolishing IP does no more harm than deciding you want to switch to a cheaper brand of breakfast cereal.

ucim wrote:If you invent something, should you not have some rights in that invention?

Abolishing IP would not eliminate any rights you hold to use, produce, modify, or distribute your inventions. No "rights" are taken away. IP, by definition, removes rights - and it explicitly removes rights to promote an individuals profit at the expense of society's freedoms. No one has the "right" to profit - as I mentioned, people are not compelled to purchase an unappealing piece of art. What, then, makes this situation special?

Even the originators of copyright (so named not because it provides a right to copy but because it ELIMINATES the right to copy) saw it as the destruction of an inherent freedom. They simply thought that destroying that freedom was worth the benefits to society (not individual profit) that such encouragement would provide. If you want to make a more solid argument, I'd recommend following that line of reasoning than continuing in your insistence that anyone has a "right" to profit off labour others are unwilling to pay for.

Now for the easy stuff:
If you write an opera, should you not have some rights in preventing that opera from being performed and/or modified by others?

No, and traditionally you wouldn't after a period of time passed anyway. What is the justification for a time limited right that applies before the expiration but not after? Or are you advocating for forever-IP?

If I'm hired by Alice to take a photo of you with Fred's camera, should Susan be prevented from posting it all over Facebook if you object? If I object? If Fred objects? If Alice objects?

This issue is completely unrelated to questions of IP.
Last edited by Tobias on Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:51 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote: It also runs into the same problem of the wealthy opting to bail out of the country.


Unlike other leftist proposals, though, this one provides a fertile ground and a solid foundation for new entrepreneurs to take significant risks and fill those gaps. There are other proposals I believe in, very "off the beaten path" proposals (like a grant/investment system that is publically managed but privately targeted) that serve the same ends. I believe encouraging entreneurship, competition, and a diverse market is valuable in and of itself, and if the wealthy (who often spend their money preventing all of those things) flee the country, then good. There will soon be people that fill the gap they have left, who are "wealthy" (if more modestly so, simple millionaires perhaps) but happy here and without the ability to abuse their wealth to consolidate power.

The demand will still exist, there will still be a great amount of profit to be made (remember, at every point in this process you are still able to make money, there is never a point where making more money does not benefit you), its just the profit will be more evenly distributed and one person or group is far less likely to control the entire market.

Also, logistically and practically, this is something that would steadily ramp up over a period of time rather than happening all at once, so as to not shock the system too badly and allow for these alternatives to grow organically - but the ultra-wealthy fleeing the country and having less power over its government and its people is explicitly a benefit.

Pfhorrest wrote:What is the practical difference between welfare available in progressively larger amounts to people with progressively lower incomes, and a basic income funded by an income tax (as any would have to be to for there to be any point to it)? It amounts to exactly the same thing. Except maybe less overhead, since instead of having to apply for welfare and show them your taxes to see how much you qualify for, the government, who already has your tax info, just gives you the benefit you would qualify for automatically.


What do you mean by "welfare", exactly? It is nothing even remotely like any existing welfare program, though of course you could call it a welfare program if you wish. So the question is strange in multiple ways, and I'm not sure what you are actually asking.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:28 pm UTC

The context where that bit you quoted came up was a comparison of BI to something like SSDI. In either case you just get cut a check each month, and the big difference I was highlighting was how easily you can lose that check by trying to better yourself, currently. Jose said that cutoff could be eliminated without it being a basic income, and I’m asking how such a changed system would not just be a basic income, besides maybe there being less bureaucracy involved in signing up for it, fewer different programs covering different special cases, etc. Just one program that automatically sends you a check inversely proportional to your income. Which would be the net payout of a BI funded by income tax.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:36 pm UTC

See above, it's not a minor issue...

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:05 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:It's quite a demand to raise taxes for that goal.

For the vast majority of people (~75% in the US), it would amount to a reduction of their taxes; in practice either way, but if implemented as a tax credit, then directly and literally. See my earlier post on the topic.

For most of those remaining ~25%, the increase would be negligible.

Only for the top few percent would it be significant, and they can easily afford it without hardship.

That some 'undeserving' people's lives are made easier in the process of completely eliminating all poverty for everyone, along with all the enormous social and economic benefits that come with that, is hardly a counterargument.

Coming back on topic: about the only semi-reasonable counterargument is a right-libertarian "taxes are theft" one. But given that we're not completely eliminating all taxes for such deontic reasons, we're left with consequential arguments, and those pretty resoundingly favor a basic income over either traditional forms of welfare or no welfare at all.

Even more on-topic: I'd argue that a basic income allows a welfare system to be far more libertarian. You can just take a completely (right-)libertarian free market system, and slap a basic income over it as a band-aid to the social ills that fall out of that (since apparently we're not up to discussing the root cause of those ills, just at best ameliorating their symptoms). All those social ills are a consequence of wealth inequality, and rather than addressing them by telling specific people what they can or cannot or must do if they want a little bit of help -- all very anti-libertarian, lots of government meddling -- we just directly ameliorate the wealth inequality and let people choose how to live their own lives. Like a libertarian would.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

The reason a UBI isn't libertarian is because it's something that requires an authority to decide how much people deserve. This is why I proposed having land rented, and rights to mine natural resources auctioned off; it serves the same purpose as a UBI, but it's not welfare, just your share of the planet's resources which it is up to you to make the most of. Since this is all voluntarily paid to the public, it can be taxed without it being theft as well.

It's also the only way that we can ensure people are rewarded for their labor, and not for property, allowing us to have a highly competitive labor market that approximates perfect competition. Most welfare wouldn't be needed if people simply were paid fairly for their labor to begin with.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:15 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Most welfare wouldn't be needed if people simply were paid fairly for their labor to begin with.
But what is fair and how is that determined? That's the issue I have. My labor plows a field. Fine. Tomorrow my labor produces nothing...For weeks. Then I emerge with a new invention - a mechanical tractor with which I can plow many fields quickly. The tractor is mine and I keep its innards secret. It is property - both concrete and abstract. For the next year I sit on my rear as I steer the tractors to plow many fields faster and with less effort. What is my fair payment (compared to the less efficient manual plowers)?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:18 pm UTC

Didn't we just have this conversation? Fair is equal opportunity for all.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:47 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The reason a UBI isn't libertarian is because it's something that requires an authority to decide how much people deserve.

I agree with this (and much of what else you wrote) on abstract principle, but on the comparison of the kind of right-libertarianism this thread is apparently meant to discuss, versus what we have presently, where both still have a state and capitalism, I'm just arguing that an UBI is more libertarian than the kind of welfare done now. Best if we could do away with the state and capitalism both completely, I think you and I agree. But if we're stuck with both for the time being, and using the former to curtail the damage of the latter, best to do it in a way that involves the least state meddling and the most personal freedom, while still accomplishing its damage-control mission, no?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:23 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Didn't we just have this conversation? Fair is equal opportunity for all.
Yes, and as I recall, you dodged a lot of the questions with platitudes like the one above. If I invent a tractor, am I allowed to keep the tractor as my property? Am I forced to disclose its innards? There are lots of ways to slice "equal", and they all lead to inequality in one form or another, including the form you don't like.

Specifically, if I'm paid an amount that reflects my productivity, a lot of that is simply due to my having a tractor, and having invented a tractor. Is that not rent? I'm being paid to have a tractor, in essence. This is even more true if I hire somebody to drive it, or I rent it to a farmer so they can plow the field. But the end result is the same. Rent.

The same is true of libertarianism (and all the other isms, for that matter); the details are important. Without the details, it's easy to hide like a quantum mechanic behind one form while espousing another. That's one of the reasons I asked earlier about IP under libertarianism.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:39 pm UTC

That conversation was purely about market economics; it was you declaring that people deserved to profit for more than their labor without actually explaining why, me explaining why those profits were simply rewarding people for inefficienct markets, and it ended with you declaring that competitive labor markets were impossible without questioning the reasons that our labor markets are so uncompetitive to begin with. You never actually explained why people deserve to be rewarded with ownership of property or profits without working, and at the same time you seem to oppose any argument that suggests profits or private property ownership might be inherently harmful to everyone else involved.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:51 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Zamfir wrote:It's quite a demand to raise taxes for that goal.

For the vast majority of people (~75% in the US), it would amount to a reduction of their taxes; in practice either way, but if implemented as a tax credit, then directly and literally. See my earlier post on the topic.
For most of those remaining ~25%, the increase would be negligible.
Only for the top few percent would it be significant, and they can easily afford it without hardship.
That some 'undeserving' people's lives are made easier in the process of completely eliminating all poverty for everyone, along with all the enormous social and economic benefits that come with that, is hardly a counterargument.
Coming back on topic: about the only semi-reasonable counterargument is a right-libertarian "taxes are theft" one. But given that we're not completely eliminating all taxes for such deontic reasons, we're left with consequential arguments, and those pretty resoundingly favor a basic income over either traditional forms of welfare or no welfare at all.
Even more on-topic: I'd argue that a basic income allows a welfare system to be far more libertarian. You can just take a completely (right-)libertarian free market system, and slap a basic income over it as a band-aid to the social ills that fall out of that (since apparently we're not up to discussing the root cause of those ills, just at best ameliorating their symptoms). All those social ills are a consequence of wealth inequality, and rather than addressing them by telling specific people what they can or cannot or must do if they want a little bit of help -- all very anti-libertarian, lots of government meddling -- we just directly ameliorate the wealth inequality and let people choose how to live their own lives. Like a libertarian would.

Would paying for universal healthcare provide a good example or proof of concept for UBI? It's similar, a good 50% of the US budget is dedicated to healthcare spending, and tax rates aren't that high. What kind of tax receipts/rates would you need to fund healthcare for everyone? Dollars are fungible, so healthcare for free is similar to having additional income. Could have sworn there was some whitepapers in some academic journal.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:02 am UTC

Probably less than Americans spend now. Per capita spending on healthcare in the United States is much higher than comparable countries with socialized medicine.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:55 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Probably less than Americans spend now. Per capita spending on healthcare in the United States is much higher than comparable countries with socialized medicine.

But you wouldn't see those gains for a good while. For one thing, all the entrenched rules and interests against change. Just covering more things, aka everything, doesn't guarantee scaling bonuses. The medical industry could raise prices even more to account for the extra demand. I'm only assuming a single rule change regarding coverage. It gets too weird you start trying to predict price controls/efficiencies on top of a massive increase in demand.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:59 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:You never actually explained why people deserve to be rewarded with ownership of property or profits without working, and at the same time you seem to oppose any argument that suggests profits or private property ownership might be inherently harmful to everyone else involved.
You state that people should be rewarded for their labor but not for the use of their property, without explaining why. As to property ownership being harmful to everyone involved, that's something that's for you to defend. You've not done so, except to avow your resentment of rich people and luxury goods. And given that this is a thread about libertarianism, which [oversimplification] primarily revolves around government's primary obligation being to enforce private contracts [/oversimplification], and given that contracts tend to mostly involve property in one form or another, I don't see how your premisis should go without question.

Private ownership of property seems inevitable to me under almost any reasonable system.

If you are in favor of abolishing all private property, there would be no way to pay a worker for their labor anyway. So, some property should be privately owned.

A worker is paid for his labor, because the result of his labor is valuable to the recipient. His labor is more resultful if he has good tools; it therefore makes sense for the worker to be able to own his tools. Heck, a worker can make his own tools, right? But tools are the means of production. So, if you oppose private ownership of the means of production, you take the hammer away from the carpenter as well as taking the boat from the merchant marine. And even a cooperative is little more than a private group; whatever the cooperative owns is just as privately owned as what a corporation owns. I suppose one difference is that a cooperative is "owned" by the workers, but there are corporations that only permit employees to be stockholders, so the difference is mostly academic.

Do you advocate taking the boat from the merchant marine, but not the hammer from the carpenter? Where and how would you draw the line?

Now, every tool and every piece of property is the result of somebody's labor. This does not disappear when it is traded to another for money. And the money it's traded for is the result of labor also, directly or by chain. In a very real sense, use of property is use of labor. It is the very same sense in which using a tool, or an improved tool, makes an hour of labor more productive. This is why I keep coming back to the guy who invents (and then has) a tractor, or adds (and then has) a claw on the end of a hammer, or who writes (and then has) a play (without which the actors wouldn't have anything to do). They are all indirect uses of labor.

Yes, indirect use of labor has the property of concentrating the benefits of that labor; this is the ultimate source of wealth through property. However, tools themselves do the same thing. With a tractor, I can plow fifteen fields while you are halfway through the first one. In doing so, I can become wealthy and put you out of business. The hammer and nail does the same for carpentry, and a computerized spreadsheet does the same for accounting.

Where, and how, do you draw the line and justify that that's where it ought to be?

Tyndmyr wrote:If your life requires those around you to be wise in order for it to be fulfilling, you are welcome to contribute as much as you like to this end in a libertarian society. The wealthy have sometimes done great things for education.
I would have to be wealthy to do that. My point is that I would like a society which values education. I recognize education as a Good Thing In Society. It is in my best interests that you are educated, and in your best interests that I am educated, for many reasons.

If you do not agree with this; if you think education does not significantly improve society - that it is not a positive externality, then that's a valid reason to reject the idea of public education. But it would be good to hear it in those words.

Similarly, it is in my best interests that you are healthy. It's in my best interests that you are not desperately poor. It's in my best interests that you feel, and are, enfranchised in society. Some of those things could cost me money; I'm ok with that. On the flip side, it is in your best interests that you are healthy, enfranchised, and all those things too. I expect that you would pursue those things, for those reasons. But where it is not enough, I think a decent society - a society I would want to live in, would support those things too.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, your neighbors deciding to spruce up their homes might increase the value of yours, but you can't compel them to do so on that basis.
I'm not proposing that. Not every positive externality cries out for social support. But there are some cases where the societal benefits are so great that I would support societal lsupport of those benefits. And note that "support" is not "compulsion". A more accurate house example would be subsidizing house painting every ten years. Which I am not propsing either.

Tyndmyr wrote:However, IP law at present extends so far as to even prevent the use of it by another who had the idea independently at about the same time. Comes up quite a lot. I see no natural reason why this should be.
To be protected, an invention has to be non-obvious. That patents are improperly granted is a flaw in application, not in IP philosophy.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:If I'm hired by Alice to take a photo of you with Fred's camera, should Susan be prevented from posting it all over Facebook if you object?
If you agreed to the picture being taken and say, being used as stock footage, you have very little room to object. Explicit consent, all that good stuff.
I never said anything about stock footage. What if you (the subject) only agreed that the picture was to be used for an art class, and Susan uses the photo to promote the Nazi philosophy, who's to object, and on what grounds? And wouldn't all these contracts that a libertarian would fall back on essentially embody the idea of intellectual property?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:22 pm UTC

ucim wrote:You state that people should be rewarded for their labor but not for the use of their property, without explaining why.


I've explained why many times, but for you to understand this you would need to for once in your fucking lifetime view things from the perspective of someone that is not the property owner. Profits pay people for the inefficiencies in the economy; that's what they represent. Profits imply artificial scarcity - that is, in order to profit you need to limit production to less than what consumers are willing to purchase and workers are willing to produce at cost. That's just econ 101; supply and demand. Literally, every single aspect of profits are inherently negative. Please, point out something other than "profit motive" in which profiting is better for the economy than not profiting. I'll wait.

ucim wrote:As to property ownership being harmful to everyone involved, that's something that's for you to defend.


I said everyone else, which it is pretty obvious that property ownership inherently benefits the property owner at the expense of everyone that doesn't own that property. That's the default position, and for you to argue in favor of it you need to show that it is a net gain for society.

ucim wrote:Private ownership of property seems inevitable to me under almost any reasonable system.

If you are in favor of abolishing all private property, there would be no way to pay a worker for their labor anyway. So, some property should be privately owned.

A worker is paid for his labor, because the result of his labor is valuable to the recipient. His labor is more resultful if he has good tools; it therefore makes sense for the worker to be able to own his tools. Heck, a worker can make his own tools, right? But tools are the means of production. So, if you oppose private ownership of the means of production, you take the hammer away from the carpenter as well as taking the boat from the merchant marine. And even a cooperative is little more than a private group; whatever the cooperative owns is just as privately owned as what a corporation owns. I suppose one difference is that a cooperative is "owned" by the workers, but there are corporations that only permit employees to be stockholders, so the difference is mostly academic.

Do you advocate taking the boat from the merchant marine, but not the hammer from the carpenter? Where and how would you draw the line?


If you weren't so fucking unwilling to listen to a word I said then 1) this stuff would primarily be owned by worker cooperatives and consumer cooperatives 2) those things are just costs of production and 3) those are producible goods, which can be made to meet demand. Like, everything else you wrote is just you moving the goalposts yet another fucking time, because you failed to make an argument in favor of profiting off of produced goods, and you failed to make an argument in favor of profiting off of land, and instead of reassessing your viewpoint or your understanding of money, you just move right on to the next goalpost, the next rationalization without missing a beat. Like, it's quite obvious you don't know what the fuck you are talking about, and you are just angry that someone dare suggest that profits might be a bad thing.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:29 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:in practice, this becomes exceedingly similar to a means-tested system, just one that happens to be gated by tax policy, rather than a separate system.

The very important difference is that there is no cut-off point. At every income level, you stand to benefit from earning more income yourself if you can, and you never suddenly lose benefits. From an individual's point of view (running with the 50% example from before), you start off with about $2k/mo of basic income for nothing, and then for every nominal dollar you make on your own your total income goes up another 50 cents more on top of that. For everyone, at every income level, same thing.


Oh, sure, welfare cliffs are bad(I think a generally acknowledged thing regardless of philosophy at this point).

However, you don't specifically need a universal income to avoid it. It's mostly a result of our current benefits being set up oddly. There's no particular reason why we should have them, instead of having some sort of tradeoff where your benefits gradually decrease as you earn more money, tapering off slowly.

If we're proposing a massive tax on the wealthy to fund this, it is not particularly different from every other leftist proposal for a massive safety net funded by the rich.

I don't know what else you might think it could be? It can't be funded by nothing, and if it was funded by those who received it then it would basically not exist at all, so the only possibility is that it's funded by those who have the money to fund it.


Well, I'm not a fan of redistribution schemes for this exact reason. Sooner or later, they all tend to boil down to the same thing. You can get away with that to some degree, so long as it's not too costly, but if you dial everything up to 11, things break. Our current progressive tax bracket schema more or less works. We can glance over the recent tax cuts, look at the wealth repatriation, and get a rough idea of the sense of costs involved. Modest costs are bearable if your economy is otherwise okay, but if we start trying things on a much more expensive scale, the costs escalate rapidly.

It also runs into the same problem of the wealthy opting to bail out of the country.

A problem easily fixed by not letting them take it with them when they leave. Especially if we're talking about real wealth, like land. Want to bail on the country, you forfeit the part of the country you supposedly owned; and we can just throw the proceeds from the sale of that back into the basic income fund.


Doing this would be horrible for future investment. It'd basically be setting our entire economy on fire. Ultimately, land has value because there is someone there to buy it. If the rich are all leaving, and those outside the country cannot own land, then you have to sell it to the poor who remain. The poor, by definition, do not have money.

Increasing amounts of force/taking do not resolve the basic issue.

Pfhorrest wrote:What is the practical difference between welfare available in progressively larger amounts to people with progressively lower incomes, and a basic income funded by an income tax (as any would have to be to for there to be any point to it)? It amounts to exactly the same thing. Except maybe less overhead, since instead of having to apply for welfare and show them your taxes to see how much you qualify for, the government, who already has your tax info, just gives you the benefit you would qualify for automatically.


It avoids the means testing, but it means you are taking money from a lot of people, and then redistributing that some money to them. This is ultimately a bit pointless and has overhead as well. I'm not sure which is larger.

Also, as Zamfir says, the restrictions can matter. Not every restriction is well designed(drug testing is inefficient), but encouraging job applications or training is probably reasonable. Retirement, etc would also be greatly affected. Moving away from that is a significant change. I could probably ballpark estimate the size of the increase in practical cost terms, but it'd be pretty tedious. It is pretty clear that it's a massive increase. As a ballpark, in the US, the unemployment rate is about 3.9%, while the labor force participation rate is about 63%. If you're distributing benefits to all, or a significant number of non-participants, it's inherently going to be a good deal more expensive than distributing to just those who are unemployed.

This isn't a specifically libertarian concern, a lot of ideologies are going to have practical problems with the above, as it's a very major change, both in scale, and in terms of incentives.

Tobias wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote: It also runs into the same problem of the wealthy opting to bail out of the country.


Unlike other leftist proposals, though, this one provides a fertile ground and a solid foundation for new entrepreneurs to take significant risks and fill those gaps. There are other proposals I believe in, very "off the beaten path" proposals (like a grant/investment system that is publically managed but privately targeted) that serve the same ends. I believe encouraging entreneurship, competition, and a diverse market is valuable in and of itself, and if the wealthy (who often spend their money preventing all of those things) flee the country, then good. There will soon be people that fill the gap they have left, who are "wealthy" (if more modestly so, simple millionaires perhaps) but happy here and without the ability to abuse their wealth to consolidate power.


Having the government manage investment into private industry in general is probably not desirable. It gets back to the governmental "picking winners" problems, and allows for vast corruption and pork barrel politics. Ultimately, if you have concerns about wealth and power coexisting, you don't want government to determine who gets the wealth directly. Even with indirect effects, we see a lot of problems with this, but the more closely the two are tied, the easier it is for a political victor to simply reward his supporters.

Tobias wrote:The demand will still exist, there will still be a great amount of profit to be made (remember, at every point in this process you are still able to make money, there is never a point where making more money does not benefit you), its just the profit will be more evenly distributed and one person or group is far less likely to control the entire market.


Demand is only one portion of the economy. Look at China, they have a vast amount of people, but their economy does not reflect an economic demand that is proportionally equal to the US's. Ultimately, if they don't have wealth, they can only create so much demand. Merely having people does not make your economy function well. You need those people to be productive, and be creating actual wealth, so that they can trade meaningfully. Both supply and demand work in harmony, and you can't really toss out either one entirely.

One most keep in mind opportunity cost. Yes, a wealthy person may benefit from being wealthy under this system, but they will benefit more under any other, and will thus seek out any other instead. The point that additional wealth still adds some non-zero benefit is noted, but ultimately is irrelevant. As a general rule, from the perspective of government, you want to balance incentives to get as much from the wealthy as possible while not chasing them out.

Pfhorrest wrote:That some 'undeserving' people's lives are made easier in the process of completely eliminating all poverty for everyone, along with all the enormous social and economic benefits that come with that, is hardly a counterargument.


Leaving aside the question of if they deserve it or not, as a practical matter, if your system relies extensively on a few people and yet greatly incentivizes those people to leave, your system has a problem.

Alright, let's split the population into ten people for a very simplified example.
Adam makes 100k/yr.
Beth makes 90k/yr.
Charles makes 80k/yr, and by now you understand the pattern and can extrapolate the other seven.

The average income for this hypothetical populace is 55k/yr, and everyone is unemployed. Let us further say that all other governmental costs can be managed on a mere 10% flat tax. This system is wealthier, more egalitarian, and idealized than the US by a significant margin, but it'll suffice for back of the envelope math to illustrate the principles.

If you wish to give everyone 27.5k/yr in basic income(half the average), you need to tax everyone an average rate of 50% in addition to the 10% for other services. Even taxed at 100%, an obviously unattainable amount, you need to tax a few of the highest earners. Feel free to construct whatever hypothetical tax structure you think is fair for this population, but regardless, if we're taxing 60% of the wealth in the country away, the burden will fall quite heavily on those at the top.

For the following year, remove Adam, and see what you can construct.

Pfhorrest wrote:Coming back on topic: about the only semi-reasonable counterargument is a right-libertarian "taxes are theft" one. But given that we're not completely eliminating all taxes for such deontic reasons, we're left with consequential arguments, and those pretty resoundingly favor a basic income over either traditional forms of welfare or no welfare at all.


If we're going for ideological reasons, sure. It's obvious that this system does not mesh at all well with libertarian values, but that's true for a wide range of social safety net things.

However, either in terms of ideology or practicality, there are significant differences between basic income propositions and other safety nets. Usually, this is a matter of scale, but if you scale something up to an immense degree, you get other differences as well. Incentives change, society shifts, and your system is largely treated as damage, and people attempt to avoid it.

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:Most welfare wouldn't be needed if people simply were paid fairly for their labor to begin with.
But what is fair and how is that determined? That's the issue I have. My labor plows a field. Fine. Tomorrow my labor produces nothing...For weeks. Then I emerge with a new invention - a mechanical tractor with which I can plow many fields quickly. The tractor is mine and I keep its innards secret. It is property - both concrete and abstract. For the next year I sit on my rear as I steer the tractors to plow many fields faster and with less effort. What is my fair payment (compared to the less efficient manual plowers)?

Jose


Equal treatment by the law. If you are permitted to buy a tractor, but another is not, then the government has not treated you fairly. If he was allowed, but chose to spend his money elsewhere, fair play. Freedom means people get to choose.

The same is true for invention. There is nothing wrong with you keeping an invention a secret. You may do so even under modern law. IP merely attempts to provide an incentive against secrecy. The current law isn't entirely in keeping with this principle, either. A tractor one can put to productive use without revealing it. This is not true for media. If one shows a film in theaters, it is no longer secret. The profit incentive suffices entirely to get one to reveal it, and thus the usual justification for IP doesn't seem to hold up.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Thesh wrote:The reason a UBI isn't libertarian is because it's something that requires an authority to decide how much people deserve.

I agree with this (and much of what else you wrote) on abstract principle, but on the comparison of the kind of right-libertarianism this thread is apparently meant to discuss, versus what we have presently, where both still have a state and capitalism, I'm just arguing that an UBI is more libertarian than the kind of welfare done now. Best if we could do away with the state and capitalism both completely, I think you and I agree. But if we're stuck with both for the time being, and using the former to curtail the damage of the latter, best to do it in a way that involves the least state meddling and the most personal freedom, while still accomplishing its damage-control mission, no?

[/quote]

Right-libertarianism recognizes the need for a state. This does not mean that all sizes and kinds of states are equally accepted. This is true for basically every other political philosophy as well. They outline specific requirements for the state. The attitude of "fuck it, if we have a state, then any state is basically the same" doesn't describe political philosophy well.

Libertarianism would generally like to cut down existing welfare, if anything. Commonly cited alternative solutions are a healthier economy and charity. UBI's a horse of a rather different color. Now, we can get into less commonly cited ideas, like that of giving youth a good start. It's an indirect way to attempt to reduce dependence on social safety nets, but it's still a great deal more limited than a UBI is.

Attempting to do away with the state entirely is anarchism, not libertarianism. Attempting to do away with both the state and capitalism entirely is definitely not libertarian. It's more the form of socialism that it's advocates believe people will adopt voluntarily. Socialism is split into factions that believe it can arise gradually and those who believe some sort of structure change must be imposed first, and the former usually see a smaller role for the state, but neither are really libertarian.

sardia wrote:Would paying for universal healthcare provide a good example or proof of concept for UBI? It's similar, a good 50% of the US budget is dedicated to healthcare spending, and tax rates aren't that high. What kind of tax receipts/rates would you need to fund healthcare for everyone? Dollars are fungible, so healthcare for free is similar to having additional income. Could have sworn there was some whitepapers in some academic journal.


In terms of what you spend the money on, it doesn't matter a great deal from the perspective of taxation. In terms of incentives, it may differ.

Health care spending makes up 17.9% of the US's GDP(source: CMS.gov, 2016 data). In contrast, Canada spends 11.5% of their GDP on health care.

Since it's been brought up a few times, I figured I'd ramble a bit about health care. A big, big problem in US health care is simply cost. We can argue about how to divide the bill, but a significant part of the problem is how much we're paying up front. Now, the US is ranked first in quality of service(WHO), but significantly less expensive systems also rank fairly well. So in terms of $/benefit, we can probably do better.

Obvious flaws include the insurance industry. This isn't purely The Affordable Care Act's fault, as job-tying insurance long before then significantly skewed the market. You subsidize an industry, you tend to get more of it. Subsidizing health care insurance is in large part subsidizing insurance industries, not health care. There's nothing wrong with insurance, it's a useful tool, but it's not so useful that it deserves massive government handouts. Going with the required-insurance model means that insurance companies wield undue influence over care. If insurance decides not to cover something, and you're required to spend your health care dollars via insurance, then for many people, that's a practical denial of care. If you make insurance cover more, incentives get ever more screwed up, and premiums tend to rise. It's kind of a crappy choice, long term.

Some of the best results have been in areas that for oddball historical reasons get separated from health insurance. Vision, for instance. Getting an eye exam at a chain store is maybe $50-60 without insurance. Prescription in hand, you pop online and order glasses from a discount retailer. Maybe $100 every coupla years, and you're set. Flu shots, likewise, handled at retail for maybe $25, and free programs exist. The ala carte model doesn't work for everything, but it's pretty effective for where it is used. It gets you nice transparent costs. Costco has cheaper flu shots than Walmart? Off to Costco!

As an aside, testing is likely a significant cost for the US. MRI machines/population and similar numbers are quite high for the US. This isn't wholly bad, and some of those may result from the distributed nature of much of our population, but unnecessary testing is definitely a cost. 'sone of those areas in which insurance skewing the market matters. If it's paid for by insurance, people may be unduly likely to get a test, and a doctor to order it, because there are no cost incentives in play. On the flip side, if it's not covered, the opposite applies. If your cash is all going through insurance, getting care on top of insurance is rough. HSA's are nice, but are capped at modest amounts. Insurance is treated with a primacy that is odd.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:30 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
ucim wrote:You state that people should be rewarded for their labor but not for the use of their property, without explaining why.


I've explained why many times, but for you to understand this you would need to for once in your fucking lifetime view things from the perspective of someone that is not the property owner. Profits pay people for the inefficiencies in the economy; that's what they represent. Profits imply artificial scarcity - that is, in order to profit you need to limit production to less than what consumers are willing to purchase and workers are willing to produce at cost. That's just econ 101; supply and demand. Literally, every single aspect of profits are inherently negative. Please, point out something other than "profit motive" in which profiting is better for the economy than not profiting. I'll wait.


Profit provides you with the funds to improve efficiency, as well as give flexibility if case of market fluctuations. This has already been covered, are you trolling at this point?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:52 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Profit provides you with the funds to improve efficiency, as well as give flexibility if case of market fluctuations. This has already been covered, are you trolling at this point?


1) Profits shift money around, they don't add anything. Once a business is established, the most profitable ventures are acquisitions that reduce competition and market efficiency along-side it, and large corporations just aren't efficient to begin with. Not to mention that they take money out of poor communities and concentrate it in big cities, making it impossible for poor communities to even get money to invest to begin with. All you are saying there is that rich people spend money better than poor people, while completely ignoring the rest of the economy.

2) Profits lead to a focus on ways to get more bargaining power, rather than actually be more productive, which leads to more market fluctuations. Since bargaining power is based on current market conditions, shifts in those conditions can completely destroy economies (see Detroit). By creating large corporations that seek to hoard resources for the sake of competitive advantage, rather than work together make the most efficient use of resources, we ensure a much less stable market - if Ford and GM all use the same factories, a shift in production from Ford to GM doesn't need to result in any lay-offs at all. However, they lose their competitive advantage, so they prefer to have more factories that have greater fluctuations in production.

EDIT: Forgot to add, in the long run maintaining reserves in the form of cash or a low-interest line of credit is not really profiting anyway. It's just planning.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:10 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Profit provides you with the funds to improve efficiency, as well as give flexibility if case of market fluctuations. This has already been covered, are you trolling at this point?


1) Profits shift money around, they don't add anything. Once a business is established, the most profitable ventures are acquisitions that reduce competition and market efficiency along-side it, and large corporations just aren't efficient to begin with. Not to mention that they take money out of poor communities and concentrate it in big cities, making it impossible for poor communities to even get money to invest to begin with. All you are saying there is that rich people spend money better than poor people, while completely ignoring the rest of the economy.


These are all odd assumptions.

Alright, let us consider an actual common industry, the manufacturing of plastic objects. You, an individual, wish to craft an object from plastic and sell it. Let's say a 2" by 2" part with some detail. What it is barely matters.

If you do this with hand tools from a block of plastic, it will be somewhat difficult. It'll take a significant amount of filing or melting, and if you have to remelt it repeatedly, you'll screw up the quality of the plastic due to offgassing. Even with practice and skill, it will eventually take you quite some time and more materials than any industrialized method.

If you invest in a metal die and a hobby level injection molder, you spend maybe two grand up front in tooling. In return, you can make copies roughly as fast as they can heat. Mine can easily pop an object out about every two minutes, and the main limitation is the heating coils. I'm using a lot less plastic, as wastage is minimal, and you get perfectly replicated detail every time. This is vastly more efficient if you are making many copies, as the initial investment is expensive, but as you have decreased your cost per item, you can make many more items for the same overall dollar/time investment.

If you invest in commercial machinery(vastly more, commercial injection molders start at like 30 grand, and rapidly escalate upwards from there), you can pump them out almost arbitrarily fast, with far less handling than the hobby level. It's a similar level of improvement. At this point, material costs begin to dominate, and plastic goods can be produced inexpensively en masse.

With sufficient automation, you can do lights out manufacturing in which production continues at night with nobody there.

If you start out as the first, and never price your goods at a profit, you never make it to step 2. If you borrow money instead, well then to repay it, you still have to price your goods at a profit, and even more so, because you must pay the loan costs.

A capitalistic approach gets you to step 3, and produces the most efficient goods by far.

2) Profits lead to a focus on ways to get more bargaining power, rather than actually be more productive, which leads to more market fluctuations. Since bargaining power is based on current market conditions, shifts in those conditions can completely destroy economies (see Detroit). By creating large corporations that seek to hoard resources for the sake of competitive advantage, rather than work together make the most efficient use of resources, we ensure a much less stable market - if Ford and GM all use the same factories, a shift in production from Ford to GM doesn't need to result in any lay-offs at all. However, they lose their competitive advantage, so they prefer to have more factories that have greater fluctuations in production.


The former is a huge problem with the union model, yes. Detroit is pretty screwed because they relied on ever escalating levels of force to attempt to mold society into what they wanted. Eventually, everything breaks down.

Companies do use the same factories where it makes sense to do so. In many cases it does not. Even if two companies wish to only operate a factory for eight hours a day, they probably both would prefer to operate during daylight hours when the workers will prefer to work. In addition, they are not manufacturing the same things, exactly. Yes, they might share some number of parts in common, and thus their supply chains are similar in some respects, but the final products do differ, so the factories will to some extent as well. If one makes the companies use the same factories, resources, pay the workers similarly, etc...why are you having separate companies at all? It appears to be a command economy you are advocating for, not a competitive one.

In practice, the automobile market in the US is quite stable for consumers. Yes, a company may fare well or poorly, but the consumer generally cares fairly little about this. The largest problem for the consumer is not the manufacturers, but the ridiculous cronyism surrounding dealerships.

Thesh wrote:EDIT: Forgot to add, in the long run maintaining reserves in the form of cash or a low-interest line of credit is not really profiting anyway. It's just planning.


When one is discussing profit and loss, putting away a bit of extra cash for the future is booked as a profit. You don't book it as "planning".

You are again attempting to redefine very basic economic terms rather than accept that your theories do not match reality.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:These are all odd assumptions.


They are facts, not assumptions.

Tyndmyr wrote:Alright, let us consider an actual common industry, the manufacturing of plastic objects. You, an individual, wish to craft an object from plastic and sell it. Let's say a 2" by 2" part with some detail. What it is barely matters.

If you do this with hand tools from a block of plastic, it will be somewhat difficult. It'll take a significant amount of filing or melting, and if you have to remelt it repeatedly, you'll screw up the quality of the plastic due to offgassing. Even with practice and skill, it will eventually take you quite some time and more materials than any industrialized method.

If you invest in a metal die and a hobby level injection molder, you spend maybe two grand up front in tooling. In return, you can make copies roughly as fast as they can heat. Mine can easily pop an object out about every two minutes, and the main limitation is the heating coils. I'm using a lot less plastic, as wastage is minimal, and you get perfectly replicated detail every time. This is vastly more efficient if you are making many copies, as the initial investment is expensive, but as you have decreased your cost per item, you can make many more items for the same overall dollar/time investment.

If you invest in commercial machinery(vastly more, commercial injection molders start at like 30 grand, and rapidly escalate upwards from there), you can pump them out almost arbitrarily fast, with far less handling than the hobby level. It's a similar level of improvement. At this point, material costs begin to dominate, and plastic goods can be produced inexpensively en masse.

With sufficient automation, you can do lights out manufacturing in which production continues at night with nobody there.

If you start out as the first, and never price your goods at a profit, you never make it to step 2. If you borrow money instead, well then to repay it, you still have to price your goods at a profit, and even more so, because you must pay the loan costs.

A capitalistic approach gets you to step 3, and produces the most efficient goods by far.


Ah, so now you are saying that paying off a loan is profiting in order to ignore everything I said, and none of this distinguishes a for-profit corporation from a not-for-profit, as the latter can raise prices to pay for investment too; it's just that from the perspective of workers in a worker cooperative, they are investing their wages, and from the perspective of consumers in a consumer cooperative they are investing their savings, rather than seeking to earn profits over wages.
Tyndmyr wrote:The former is a huge problem with the union model, yes. Detroit is pretty screwed because they relied on ever escalating levels of force to attempt to mold society into what they wanted. Eventually, everything breaks down.


Unions are necessary to counter the bargaining power of large corporations; it wasn't the unions that were the problem.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, they might share some number of parts in common, and thus their supply chains are similar in some respects, but the final products do differ, so the factories will to some extent as well. If one makes the companies use the same factories, resources, pay the workers similarly, etc...why are you having separate companies at all? It appears to be a command economy you are advocating for, not a competitive one.


I've already explained how we can structure it differently in an earlier post. There is no reason to have these large corporations to begin with; every factory can be independent, every car part standardized. Any time you have multiple locations under the command of a single corporate structure, it's for the sake of bargaining power, and it comes at the expense of efficiency. Hierarchies only make sense if you have a singular goal; consumers and workers just do not have singular goals, and so hierarchical structures don't make sense.

Tyndmyr wrote:When one is discussing profit and loss, putting away a bit of extra cash for the future is booked as a profit. You don't book it as "planning".


Are you deliberately ignoring all of the points?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:45 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Ah, so now you are saying that paying off a loan is profiting in order to ignore everything I said, and none of this distinguishes a for-profit corporation from a not-for-profit, as the latter can raise prices to pay for investment too; it's just that from the perspective of workers in a worker cooperative, they are investing their wages, and from the perspective of consumers in a consumer cooperative they are investing their savings, rather than seeking to earn profits over wages.


If you save up money to get a thing, you book profits while saving. If you take out a loan, and then pay it off by buying the thing, you book profits as you pay off the loan. I'm not sure what your confusion over profits are, but they do not represent evil in some fashion. It's an accounting term. If you made money off the transaction, you turned a profit.

And yes, not-for-profits can turn profits as well. It's not usually the point of them, barring dodgy tax shenanigans, but they certainly can.

Tyndmyr wrote:The former is a huge problem with the union model, yes. Detroit is pretty screwed because they relied on ever escalating levels of force to attempt to mold society into what they wanted. Eventually, everything breaks down.


Unions are necessary to counter the bargaining power of large corporations; it wasn't the unions that were the problem.


It doesn't matter if you believe they were necessary. They were part of the escalating costs. Ultimately, Detroit has too many costs to make it a desirable place to put a business.

Or live, really. I remember checking out stupidly cheap land prices there a while back, because it struck me as interesting. However, total cost of ownership of taking over abandoned land there was significant. And then, your land is stuck in Detroit. You're dealing with high crime, shitty utilities, high taxation...the laundry list of costs and problems add up, and it becomes an ugly proposition.

Any particular cost in isolation can probably be put up with, but if you have too many issues, industry crumbles. When all the jobs leave, life gets rough. Detroit is a poster child for what happens when that arises. Baltimore also struggles with this in some areas, though it's attempted to counter this by dumping lots of money into specific rich areas. It's...eh. Not great.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, they might share some number of parts in common, and thus their supply chains are similar in some respects, but the final products do differ, so the factories will to some extent as well. If one makes the companies use the same factories, resources, pay the workers similarly, etc...why are you having separate companies at all? It appears to be a command economy you are advocating for, not a competitive one.


I've already explained how we can structure it differently in an earlier post. There is no reason to have these large corporations to begin with; every factory can be independent, every car part standardized. Any time you have multiple locations under the command of a single corporate structure, it's so that competition can be reduced, and it comes at the expense of efficiency. Hierarchies only make sense if you have a singular goal; consumers and workers just do not have singular goals, and so hierarchical structures don't make sense.


If you believe you can get superior efficiency out of it, have at it. Start your company, and enjoy loads of cash(or returning the money and dominating the market with cheaper goods than anyone else can produce).

The fact that this isn't generally the case indicates that you might be making an incorrect assumption.

Tyndmyr wrote:When one is discussing profit and loss, putting away a bit of extra cash for the future is booked as a profit. You don't book it as "planning".


Are you deliberately ignoring all of the points?


No, I'm merely suggesting that you use the same language for discussing economics as everyone else. Profit is not a handy shortcut label for everything you dislike. I'm not suggesting you need to use super-formal language, merely avoid redefining words already in common usage. If you want to come up with a concept, figure out what that's named, or invent a new name for it.

I'm going to go over what profit exactly is a bit. Apologies for those it's basic for.

If you have a dollar worth of material, and pay a guy a dollar to make an item you sell for three dollars, you have made a one dollar profit. If you're buying and selling there are terms like gross profit and net profit. A store typically buys products a lot cheaper than it sells them. Half price is very common*, and thus, sell prices are determined by keystoning(doubling the price). For such products, the gross profit is sell price minus buy price. For manufacturing, the "buy price" is replaced by total cost of manufacturing, labor included. Net profit the remaining profit after all expenses are taken out.

So, if you bought an item for a dollar, and sold it for two, your gross profit is 50% or $1.

After paying your rent, power bill, and whatever else, you probably have about a nickel left. This is net profit. In 2017/2018,average net profit for retail ranges across the 2%/low 3% range.

Typically, you are taxed on net profit(minus whatever deductions apply)**. The owner(s) of the business can reinvest these profits into the company or take them out as dividends(if a stockholder) or personal profits(if not. Double taxation or pass through may apply depending on specific structures). You may notice that 2-3% pretty much just counters inflation. Sure. Taxes are not inflation adjusted. Maybe they should be, but eh.

If you, as a stockholder, prefer equity over dividends, there's an easy way to get that. DRIP's, or dividend reinvestment programs basically use your profits to buy more stock. Therefore, equity v dividend doesn't really matter all that much from a stockholder perspective.***

Most companies don't have stocks. Only maybe 3700 US companies are publicly traded, and the number is shrinking, not growing. Used to be a lot more in the 90s. For the other 99% of companies, profit exists on the balance sheet, and determines how much is in the bank account, but nobody really cares about stock prices.

Socialism usually attempts to do industry better by getting rid of that couple percent of profit. This is likely one of the smallest contributors to cost in almost all cases, and even if you got rid of profit entirely, the effect on end-user pricing would not be very large. People who misunderstand this are likely confusing gross and net profit. Yes, the company may, in some sense, be making a lot of money off of a particular transaction, but when overall costs are considered, they are generally not ridiculously profitable. Walmart is generally in the 3% profit margin range, though they're down to about 2% at present. If one decreased all the costs at Walmart by 2%, the resulting price changes would be unimpressive.

So, making a SocialisMart that duplicated all of the efficiencies of Walmart somehow, but made no profit, would still look very much like Walmart. There is fairly little delta to be gained by attacking profit. Keep in mind that you need at least some profit coming in if you want to ever improve anything, or invest in new developments.

Walmart is only making about 24-25% gross profit, about 75% of it's costs are directly from it's suppliers. Walmart is not known to be overly generous to them, but if you wanted to make a Walmart equivalent more efficient, getting better prices is one possible way. I'm not sure how Socialism offers any potential answers here. Even if you attempt to remove profit from every layer of the economy, there's only a fairly modest increase possible assuming that there are absolutely zero costs to be paid for doing so.

So to for the rest. Should Walmart pay it's workers less? Right now, it already doesn't pay them a lot, and the very modest increases it has recently had are largely why it's net profit is so low right now. You can pour every profit dollar into labor, and Walmart will still be a fairly modestly paying job. Definitely can't get to $15 an hour or whatever is being suggested(currently, their scale starts at $10/hr). If you're slashing labor prices, you probably need to cut actual positions.

The biggest way to make gains is to get additional efficiency out of higher turn rates without increasing expenses. If you can boost per-store sales, you can get higher net profit, which gives you some breathing room for boosting other areas a shade. Not much, mind you, but small amounts. This is largely why Walmart works compared to small retailers. They have one giant store, with one logistical chain behind them. In terms of slashing overhead, Walmart wins. However, you probably can't replicate Walmart's trick at a higher scale. People are only willing to drive so far.

Thus, when folks talk about the advantages of Socialism, it seems curious when they talk about what advantages they will provide. They often talk a great deal about additional expenses they would incur. It is usually unclear how they plan to provide them. Explanations of efficiency are given only relative to straw-men of business plans, not actual industry leaders.

We could do this same thing with US auto makers instead, if you would like. They've got a net profit of around 2% as well. The idea that this could be vastly increased in some manner(such as sharing factories) that they are simply not doing at present fails to present a convincing motive for why this should be. If two manufacturers could easily vastly improve profits, they would gladly do so out of sheer greed.

*This does vary by industry. Typically, there's a relationship with turn rates and value of item. Grocery stores run a low gross profit, for instance. Mostly an aside unless we get into industry specific things.
**Rough rule of thumb. Tax law is complicated, and elements like depreciation may mean that tax bill in a given year may not match that year's actual profits. However, correlation remains.
***Profits from valuation increases in share prices are only realized when you sell. This may make a difference, but this means that almost all "richest people" lists and the like are wholly paper extrapolations. So and so owns x shares of y company, and y company is valued at $z a share. Multiplication happens, and the journalist reports that individual as worth that much money. However, the actual value is tied up in stores, product, and other productive enterprise. It is not in yachts and personal spending accounts.
Last edited by Tyndmyr on Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:34 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you save up money to get a thing, you book profits while saving.


Huh? Consumers are reducing their savings and not expecting a cash return. Seriously, you were trying to explain why profits in and of themselves are a good thing, now you are literally saying that investing money is profiting in order to do so. In the long run, there are no profits; all that money is just the cost of building that business.

Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't matter if you believe they were necessary. They were part of the escalating costs. Ultimately, Detroit has too many costs to make it a desirable place to put a business.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dismiss all the problems with corporations, by just saying "whatabout unions" and ignore literally everything else about the economy, for the sake of dismissing the problems caused by imbalances of power.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you believe you can get superior efficiency out of it, have at it. Start your company, and enjoy loads of cash(or returning the money and dominating the market with cheaper goods than anyone else can produce).


Umm... What? Again, the post explained how an efficient auto market won't come from a single individual, but requires workers and consumers cooperating for their mutual best interest. The point, which you are absolutely opposed to acknowledging, is that structure would not allow you to earn money off of anything but labor, which isn't attractive to investors.

Tyndmyr wrote:No, I'm merely suggesting that you use the same language for discussing economics as everyone else. Profit is not a handy shortcut label for everything you dislike. I'm not suggesting you need to use super-formal language, merely avoid redefining words already in common usage. If you want to come up with a concept, figure out what that's named, or invent a new name for it.


No, you are ignoring everything I said, getting further from the original point, looking for a technicality in which putting money aside because it is necessary to run the business is profiting, while also not even addressing the whole line of credit part of my post. The point, to restate it, is that maintaining profit margins is not necessary, and it is what you are allocating the money for rather than the profits themselves that are beneficial, and none of that would be any different with a not-for-profit company than a for-profit one, as there is no intention to return those profits to investors/owners. All of your arguments about what profits are rest on thinking about the business in terms of earnings within a given time period, rather than the lifetime of the business (i.e. if costs are equal to revenues in its lifetime, the lifetime profits of the business are zero).

You are also ignoring the entire context this post was made in, which was talking about rewarding people for owning property, so all that is just completely moot.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:43 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you save up money to get a thing, you book profits while saving.


Huh? Consumers are reducing their savings and not expecting a cash return. Seriously, you were trying to explain why profits in and of themselves are a good thing, now you are literally saying that investing money is profiting in order to do so. In the long run, there are no profits; all that money is just the cost of building that business.


Alright, if you're going to buy a stock, you're either going to save for it, or you're going to borrow money to buy it. In either case, you need profits to actually pay for the thing. Either beforehand for saving, or afterwards, to pay back the loan.

The same is true of a company buying a new machine. In order to afford it, they need to make money.

Of course there are profits, still. If you have two companies, one of which has managed to afford machinery to make it's production more efficient, and the other that has not, then the first has profited more. Also, it has made society better off, because we can now have those things more easily.

However, what we can invest into the future is necessarily limited by profit. If you stamp out profit, you are stamping out investment in the future.

Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't matter if you believe they were necessary. They were part of the escalating costs. Ultimately, Detroit has too many costs to make it a desirable place to put a business.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dismiss all the problems with corporations, by just saying "whatabout unions" and ignore literally everything else about the economy, for the sake of dismissing the problems caused by imbalances of power.


You can talk about the imbalance of power between homeowners and firemen, if you like, but if you prioritize the fight while the house is burning, the resulting wreck is unsurprising.

I'm not advocating we get rid of unions, but focusing on power to the exclusion of all else can utterly destroy everyone's ability to get by.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you believe you can get superior efficiency out of it, have at it. Start your company, and enjoy loads of cash(or returning the money and dominating the market with cheaper goods than anyone else can produce).


Umm... What? Again, the post explained how an efficient auto market won't come from a single individual, but requires workers and consumers cooperating for their mutual best interest. The point, which you are absolutely opposed to acknowledging, is that structure would not allow you to earn money off of anything but labor, which isn't attractive to investors.


If you can make things more efficiently, and are taking no profits, then those items are cheaper, yes? You should be able to easily dominate the market if your assumptions are true.

You don't actually need investors to start a company. You can just start one.

No, you are ignoring everything I said, getting further from the original point, looking for a technicality in which putting money aside because it is necessary to run the business is profiting, while also not even addressing the whole line of credit part of my post.


It is necessary at every level, particularly at the level of society. If you need money/resources to borrow, someone else must have them saved. At some point, he must have accumulated more than he needed to spend. If he did not, he could not lend them now.

The existence of credit does not negate the need for profit.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:However, you don't specifically need a universal income to avoid it. It's mostly a result of our current benefits being set up oddly. There's no particular reason why we should have them, instead of having some sort of tradeoff where your benefits gradually decrease as you earn more money, tapering off slowly.


A universal income avoids it, but it is not the reason why a universal income is the most preferred outcome. That is because it is the most free outcome - the government should not be dictating how its assistance is best used, nor should it be financial aid to try and control the behaviours of its citizens. These are decisions best left up to the individual - a basic income provides the benefits of a welfare safety net while maximizing freedom from government involvement in a person's private lives.

The only other type of welfare that's acceptable, from a liberty-maximizing perspective, is governments directly offering services, like with fire and police departments and medical care (in the UK).

Tyndmyr wrote:Having the government manage investment into private industry in general is probably not desirable. It gets back to the governmental "picking winners" problems, and allows for vast corruption and pork barrel politics. Ultimately, if you have concerns about wealth and power coexisting, you don't want government to determine who gets the wealth directly. Even with indirect effects, we see a lot of problems with this, but the more closely the two are tied, the easier it is for a political victor to simply reward his supporters.


The government wouldn't be allowed to "pick" anything under the proposal - I specifically mentioned it would be privately targeted, by which I meant the government would provide money but the decisions on where the money goes are made by individual citizens. It's explicitly not the government picking winners and loser. It's the government creating an investment pool and letting individuals use it to invest as they see fit. Maybe giving every person in the country $20 a month or something to invest in whatever they see fit with the governments money.

Tyndmyr wrote:One most keep in mind opportunity cost. Yes, a wealthy person may benefit from being wealthy under this system, but they will benefit more under any other, and will thus seek out any other instead. The point that additional wealth still adds some non-zero benefit is noted, but ultimately is irrelevant. As a general rule, from the perspective of government, you want to balance incentives to get as much from the wealthy as possible while not chasing them out.

There are opportunity costs to massive wealth disparity as well. Ultra-wealthy individuals are not good customers, overall, and their outsized impact on the market from both a monopoly and monopsony and nepotistical point of view is actively detrimental to free markets.

Some portion of those who desire to be ultra-wealthy will obviously leave the country. You haven't yet given a particularly good reason for why we should value these people more than the entrepreneurs and ambitious up and comers we are enabling instead - people who will benefit from living in a country with a lower wealth disparity, but who can not accumulate enough wealth that their fleeing the country to make more money is particularly damaging.

Basically, you aren't demonstrating what value the ultrawealthy are offering in this scenario - does it matter, really, whether they hoard their money in our country or in some other?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Profit provides you with the funds to improve efficiency, as well as give flexibility if case of market fluctuations. This has already been covered, are you trolling at this point?


I think it's worth mentioning that in any free market scenario, profits are (practically by the definition of a free market) supposed to be transient, and rapidly approach zero.

Sustained profit is in and of itself a serious (arguably solely sufficient) indicator that a market is not free.

ucim wrote:


I'd like to hear a followup on the Ip conversation as well.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Alright, if you're going to buy a stock, you're either going to save for it, or you're going to borrow money to buy it. In either case, you need profits to actually pay for the thing. Either beforehand for saving, or afterwards, to pay back the loan.


No, you don't need profits to invest, and paying back your debt isn't profiting - debt and the interest on it is a cost to the business.

Tyndmyr wrote:You can talk about the imbalance of power between homeowners and firemen, if you like, but if you prioritize the fight while the house is burning, the resulting wreck is unsurprising.


Huh? I was talking about the fact that corporations are incentivized to make investments that give them more power over more productivity, which leads to more market fluctuations as the power is dependent on current market conditions.

Tyndmyr wrote:If you can make things more efficiently, and are taking no profits, then those items are cheaper, yes? You should be able to easily dominate the market if your assumptions are true.


You're either an idiot, or you didn't read what I wrote. I wasn't talking about a company, I was talking about many different independent companies that create a highly competitive market with standardized, open license parts in order to bring down profit margins across the entire industry.

Tyndmyr wrote:It is necessary at every level, particularly at the level of society. If you need money/resources to borrow, someone else must have them saved. At some point, he must have accumulated more than he needed to spend. If he did not, he could not lend them now.


Wait, are you calling wages above living expenses profits now? Now you are really getting away from the point, which to restate was about earning money off of property. And you still haven't shown that the profits in and of themselves, rather than the things people spend those profits on, are a good thing.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:05 pm UTC

Tobias wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:However, you don't specifically need a universal income to avoid it. It's mostly a result of our current benefits being set up oddly. There's no particular reason why we should have them, instead of having some sort of tradeoff where your benefits gradually decrease as you earn more money, tapering off slowly.


A universal income avoids it, but it is not the reason why a universal income is the most preferred outcome. That is because it is the most free outcome - the government should not be dictating how its assistance is best used, nor should it be financial aid to try and control the behaviours of its citizens. These are decisions best left up to the individual - a basic income provides the benefits of a welfare safety net while maximizing freedom from government involvement in a person's private lives.

The only other type of welfare that's acceptable, from a liberty-maximizing perspective, is governments directly offering services, like with fire and police departments and medical care (in the UK).


Why? If the government is offering a service, is it not inherently choosing what you should best do? I mean, yeah, you *could* choose not to accept it, just like you could not accept means-tested benefits, but how is this about maximizing liberty?

Also, one can have means-testing without having numerous regulations as to how the welfare is used. They tend to coexist in the US system, but it's not strictly required. Means-testing is just only providing benefits to those low on funds.

Tyndmyr wrote:Having the government manage investment into private industry in general is probably not desirable. It gets back to the governmental "picking winners" problems, and allows for vast corruption and pork barrel politics. Ultimately, if you have concerns about wealth and power coexisting, you don't want government to determine who gets the wealth directly. Even with indirect effects, we see a lot of problems with this, but the more closely the two are tied, the easier it is for a political victor to simply reward his supporters.


The government wouldn't be allowed to "pick" anything under the proposal - I specifically mentioned it would be privately targeted, by which I meant the government would provide money but the decisions on where the money goes are made by individual citizens. It's explicitly not the government picking winners and loser. It's the government creating an investment pool and letting individuals use it to invest as they see fit. Maybe giving every person in the country $20 a month or something to invest in whatever they see fit with the governments money.


So, basically a small basic income? Only with repayment? I'm not sure what kind of problem you're trying to solve here. Do you want who gets investment funding to be a matter of PR? This seems to have interesting overlaps with politics.

Tyndmyr wrote:One most keep in mind opportunity cost. Yes, a wealthy person may benefit from being wealthy under this system, but they will benefit more under any other, and will thus seek out any other instead. The point that additional wealth still adds some non-zero benefit is noted, but ultimately is irrelevant. As a general rule, from the perspective of government, you want to balance incentives to get as much from the wealthy as possible while not chasing them out.

There are opportunity costs to massive wealth disparity as well. Ultra-wealthy individuals are not good customers, overall, and their outsized impact on the market from both a monopoly and monopsony and nepotistical point of view is actively detrimental to free markets.


Who cares if they are good customers? If they opt to save instead of purchase, then that wealth/money is effectively invested in society. That's fine. We actually need a fair amount of that. Both saving and consuming are economically useful.

Avoiding monopolies and such is fairly easy, and can be done without upending society or dismantling the idea of the rich.

Some portion of those who desire to be ultra-wealthy will obviously leave the country. You haven't yet given a particularly good reason for why we should value these people more than the entrepreneurs and ambitious up and comers we are enabling instead - people who will benefit from living in a country with a lower wealth disparity, but who can not accumulate enough wealth that their fleeing the country to make more money is particularly damaging.

Basically, you aren't demonstrating what value the ultrawealthy are offering in this scenario - does it matter, really, whether they hoard their money in our country or in some other?


Having wealth is advantageous for a country.

This feels so simple as to be extremely obvious, but having wealth gives options. As an individual, a country, or what have you, having more is better. A wealthy country is able to afford more things. Not merely a wealthy government, understand, but the country as a whole. If you have a healthy business environment, then jobs exist and goods and services are more widely available. Having dollars in a country means not only can they potentially be taxed, but they are available for investment. Dollars are merely an abstract representation of wealth, of course, but if you have a rich individual living in your country instead of another, not only do you gain whatever tax dollars you get from him, but his spending and investment in your economy contributes to your country's economic well being.

Therefore, it is better to have a country in which the wealthy prefer to live in, as well as invest in.

Countries which the rich neither wish to live in nor invest in are economically terrible. Received FDI makes a decent proxy for this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_received_FDI

Tobias wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Profit provides you with the funds to improve efficiency, as well as give flexibility if case of market fluctuations. This has already been covered, are you trolling at this point?


I think it's worth mentioning that in any free market scenario, profits are (practically by the definition of a free market) supposed to be transient, and rapidly approach zero.

Sustained profit is in and of itself a serious (arguably solely sufficient) indicator that a market is not free.


For a market, yes. For an entity, no.

Mature markets have low profits. If we adjust for inflation, mature markets tend to average just about no profit. This is an average, and it's possible for individual players to perform better or worse.

It's also possible for a company to switch markets. Heavy innovators might get significant profits.

That said, if you had a company with unreasonably high profits and no particular change or innovation, that is definitely a clue. My first reaction would be to check to see if they have some favorable government relationship.

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you can make things more efficiently, and are taking no profits, then those items are cheaper, yes? You should be able to easily dominate the market if your assumptions are true.


You're either an idiot, or you didn't read what I wrote. I wasn't talking about a company, I was talking about many different independent companies that create a highly competitive market with standardized, open license parts in order to bring down profit margins across the entire industry.


That exists for auto parts right now. You can go ahead and do that if you wish. Nothing that you've talked about is at all novel, and no barrier exists to prevent you from demonstrating higher efficiency.

You seem to think that you can only prevail if you first dominate the entire market. That's not efficiency. That's a monopoly. If you can create more efficiently, you do not need to own everything else in order to outcompete.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:20 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:You're either an idiot, or you didn't read what I wrote. I wasn't talking about a company, I was talking about many different independent companies that create a highly competitive market with standardized, open license parts in order to bring down profit margins across the entire industry.

That's a monopoly.


I stand by my first sentence.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:22 pm UTC

You're planning for these companies to collude.

Start one. If your idea only works with many, and not with one, you are not actually relying on a free market.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:23 pm UTC

Okay, so the first.

EDIT:

Oh me yarm, look at all these operating systems that are colluding:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/POSIX#POS ... ng_systems

How devious!
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:35 pm UTC

There's a fine line between cooperation and collusion.

Yes, all ideas pretty much work on things that have been thought up before. Shoulders of giants and all that. Having a common ancestor isn't the same as having colluding businesses.

If you have a gas station, and other gas stations exist in town, cool. Can totally be a free market for gas. If you call each other and arrange to set prices the same, you're into collusion. Not a free market and definitely illegal.

If you believe the only way you can successfully run a gas station is in concert with a bunch of other gas stations, it indicates that even you don't believe your idea can compete fairly in a free market.

Your quoted idea literally included the goal of taking over all property everywhere. That's pretty wild collusion.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:41 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:...Profits pay people for the inefficiencies in the economy; that's what they represent. Profits imply artificial scarcity...[...] Please, point out something other than "profit motive" in which profiting is better for the economy than not profiting.


First off, your definition of the "efficent market" is not the same as the generally accepted definition of the term. What you are describing is more a "commoditized" market, where the goods are undistinguished from each other. Ignoring barriers to entry (some of which are natural and some of which are not), if you have indistinguishable goods, then supply and demand will force prices down to the lowest tolerable point, squeezing profits to the lowest tolerable point. But when goods are distinguishable, people will have preferences, and the sellers of preferred goods can increase the price (and profit). This doesn't make profits the cause of what you call market inefficiency and what I'm calling non-commodity. Companies will naturally want to distinguish their goods and in so doing charge (or sell) more to increase their profits. But this leads to on the one hand more goods, and on the other hand, more distinguished ("better") goods. Both are good things for the consumer and for the economy.

And even in a commodity market, profit is what encourages vendors to enter the market in the first place. More vendors means more competition, which keeps prices down. If there were no profits, there would be no vendors. Sure, this is "profit motive", but that's not a bad thing.

Profits are also what enable (though not require) companies to pay their workers better, and to keep paying their workers even through a downshift in the economy. And paying workers better attracts better workers, who make better products. Profits are what funds research and development. Profits are what funds expansion and retooling and modernization. A company that is making more profits can afford to do the things that will stand it well in the future. A company that is not making profits will disappear quickly, leaving its workers unemployed.

Thesh wrote:[ i]t is pretty obvious that property ownership inherently benefits the property owner at the expense of everyone that doesn't own that property. That's the default position, and for you to argue in favor of it you need to show that it is a net gain for society.
The benefit is simply that the freedom to own property is something that individuals (who make up society) want.

Thesh wrote:If you weren't so fucking unwilling to listen to a word I said then 1) this stuff would primarily be owned by worker cooperatives and consumer cooperatives 2) those things are just costs of production and 3) those are producible goods, which can be made to meet demand.
Again you are speaking in a manner unworthy of Serious Business.

1) Cooperatives are just a private group of people. What's wrong with a cooperative of one? 2) You can book them as costs of production; that is only relevant to a bookkeeper. What's relevant here is that the owner (of the tool) has control of it, and other people don't. Even if it's a cooperative, another cooperative can't just come in and take it because it's more efficient if they didn't have to buy their own. And 3) Yes, they are producable goods, which embody the labor of their production. All goods are a form of concentrated labor. That's my point. (And goods that embody a secret aren't producable by others.)

Thesh wrote:Like, it's quite obvious you don't know what the fuck you are talking about, and you are just angry that someone dare suggest that profits might be a bad thing.
I'm sure that you have studied this extensively and are an expert in economics. You are probably quite wealthy yourself because of your outsized intellect and insight, or if not personally wealthy, at least command the respect of the many workers in the collectives you help manage.

I'm not. I'm stupid. I probably shouldn't be allowed to tie my own shoelaces. So, I need things explained to me in a very simple way, starting from things I know. This is why I keep talking about owning a hammer or a boat, and how that would work in your system. And I'm not getting clear enough answers for me to be able to picture it.

Imagine Theshville - a socialist paradise according to Thesh. You can make all the rules, but you can't change human nature. I don't need to know all the rules, but I do need to know the ones about owning a hammer and a boat, and how compliance would be encouraged or enforced. Because as I see it, even if you started out with everyone happily working in their cooperatives, all it would take is one capitalist pig-dog to move into Theshville and ch*rp the thing up.

Tobias wrote:[T]he government should not be dictating how its assistance is best used...
Why not? It's (us as) the government paying for it, it should have a say in what it's used for. If you want your own say in what you use money for, earn your own money. That's what it's for.

Yes, if most people end up dependent on the (UBI) dole, social issues will result as this tightens government control over all of us. This is one of the reasons a UBI is not one of my favorite ideas.

Tobias wrote:I'd like to hear a followup on the Ip conversation as well.
Coming soon to a theater near you. :)

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:49 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:Like, it's quite obvious you don't know what the fuck you are talking about, and you are just angry that someone dare suggest that profits might be a bad thing.
I'm sure that you have studied this extensively and are an expert in economics. You are probably quite wealthy yourself because of your outsized intellect and insight, or if not personally wealthy, at least command the respect of the many workers in the collectives you help manage.

I'm not. I'm stupid. I probably shouldn't be allowed to tie my own shoelaces. So, I need things explained to me in a very simple way, starting from things I know. This is why I keep talking about owning a hammer or a boat, and how that would work in your system. And I'm not getting clear enough answers for me to be able to picture it.


This is a useful exercise. You understand an idea well when you can thoroughly explain it to others. It's part of why I created the thread, and, i think, a shortcoming of libertarian ideologies sometimes. A lot of assumptions are out there, but not all in one place, and requires that one be sort of in the in-group to really get the oblique references causally going on.

Jargon's gonna happen to some degree, because nobody wants to re-explain everything all the time, but whenever you're discussing with someone outside of a given circle, there's value in making your ideas accessible. I like using examples and what not, but wordiness gets me a lot. Eh, room for improvement.

I look forward to the IP conversation.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:13 pm UTC

ucim wrote:First off, your definition of the "efficent market" is not the same as the generally accepted definition of the term. What you are describing is more a "commoditized" market, where the goods are undistinguished from each other.


My definition of efficient market is that someone can't expect to get ahead of someone else without working harder for it. That's exactly what efficient labor markets are about. All I'm talking about is not artificially restricting opportunity, for the sake of profits.

ucim wrote:The benefit is simply that the freedom to own property is something that individuals (who make up society) want.


Which, because of private property ownership, denies most people ownership of property.

ucim wrote:1) Cooperatives are just a private group of people. What's wrong with a cooperative of one? 2) You can book them as costs of production; that is only relevant to a bookkeeper. What's relevant here is that the owner (of the tool) has control of it, and other people don't. Even if it's a cooperative, another cooperative can't just come in and take it because it's more efficient if they didn't have to buy their own. And 3) Yes, they are producable goods, which embody the labor of their production. All goods are a form of concentrated labor. That's my point. (And goods that embody a secret aren't producable by others.)


The point is that in an efficient market you can't get ahead of other workers by owning a hammer, because all of the workers you are competing with have hammers too. You only profit off of your labor, and if you can get ahead of someone else because you can buy a hammer and they can't, then the market is not efficient.

It doesn't require all workers to be identical, it's just that the markets will respond to those costs and keep profits down over the long run. All of your arguments, like Tyndmyr, rely on looking at the markets at a particular point in time, and ignore that over the long run those profits should go down in efficient markets.

ucim wrote:I'm sure that you have studied this extensively and are an expert in economics. You are probably quite wealthy yourself because of your outsized intellect and insight, or if not personally wealthy, at least command the respect of the many workers in the collectives you help manage.


Literally, you just keep rephrasing the same exact argument over and over for why people deserve to profit, and I keep explaining how that just means the markets are inefficient. You never ever address my points, and skip right on to another rephrasing of your argument. You don't even actually make an argument for why someone deserves to profit, either, you just point to how in certain market conditions you might be able to profit, and then translate that into adding value to the economy, without considering what the opportunity costs are or why the conditions were like that in the first place. It's a complete load of crap.

ucim wrote:You can make all the rules, but you can't change human nature


Which is that when we allow people to have massive amounts of power, they will necessarily use it for the good of others? Or if you don't allow people to have power over others, they will sit around and starve to death?

Seriously, if human nature was what capitalists think it is (which is a purely cynical view of how people are selfish rational decision making engines), we would have gone extinct long before civilization.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:34 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote: If you wish to give everyone 27.5k/yr in basic income(half the average), you need to tax everyone an average rate of 50% in addition to the 10% for other services. Even taxed at 100%, an obviously unattainable amount, you need to tax a few of the highest earners. Feel free to construct whatever hypothetical tax structure you think is fair for this population, but regardless, if we're taxing 60% of the wealth in the country away, the burden will fall quite heavily on those at the top.


$27.5k/yr is probably too high for this type of income distribution. But if you aim a bit more conservatively, you can still end up with something quite decent. For example, if you give everyone $15000 in basic income, then tax incomes back from 15-25k at 20%, 25-35 at 25%, 35-65k at 40%, and 65k+ at 50%, you can cover the cost of both the equivalent to the flat tax and the basic income. Everyone making 50k or lower ends up ahead; everyone making 60k+ ends up slightly behind. This works even better in a real world example where you have a handful of people making 200k, 500k, 1m+.

I'm a little surprised that you're so against this, actually, because basic incomes and negative income taxes are often favored solutions to this problem by libertarians. The link notes that just a straight replacement of all currently existing anti-poverty programs could provide a basic income to the poorest Americans to the tune of 20k per year (probably more once increased efficiencies of removing all of these program costs are added in).

[edit]Like, as soon as you accept the premise that there ought to be some assistance provided to people who don't have the means to provide for themselves (on moral or humanitarian grounds, if not necessarily economic ones), you're pretty much going to either have to look at something like this or something like a welfare state. Maybe there's other options, but it's probably going to be one or the other, or a mix of both.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:56 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote: If you wish to give everyone 27.5k/yr in basic income(half the average), you need to tax everyone an average rate of 50% in addition to the 10% for other services. Even taxed at 100%, an obviously unattainable amount, you need to tax a few of the highest earners. Feel free to construct whatever hypothetical tax structure you think is fair for this population, but regardless, if we're taxing 60% of the wealth in the country away, the burden will fall quite heavily on those at the top.


$27.5k/yr is probably too high for this type of income distribution. But if you aim a bit more conservatively, you can still end up with something quite decent. For example, if you give everyone $15000 in basic income, then tax incomes back from 15-25k at 20%, 25-35 at 25%, 35-65k at 40%, and 65k+ at 50%, you can cover the cost of both the equivalent to the flat tax and the basic income. Everyone making 50k or lower ends up ahead; everyone making 60k+ ends up slightly behind. This works even better in a real world example where you have a handful of people making 200k, 500k, 1m+.


Dialing down the magnitude of the allowance does make the financial cost more bearable, though it trades off pretty directly with it's utility as an income.

So, for the US, the average income* is $39kish, so a 50% solution ends up being 19.5k/yr, and the distribution you propose is roughly a 27% solution. Ballpark, almost 10k allowance is what it'd translate to in US terms. I'm not sure that 10k/yr is actually a basic income given that full time minimum wage employment comes out to around 15k/yr.

The real world does have more of a curve on the income distribution. This ends up focusing more attention on the super rich. If you lose the Adam, things get uglier fast. It's easier so long as you can still offload more costs on the Adams, but the instant they start bailing and the burden rolls downhill, it gets really ugly.

*Single person, under 18 excluded. An actual implementation might include some allowance for children.

I'm a little surprised that you're so against this, actually, because basic incomes and negative income taxes are often favored solutions to this problem by libertarians. The link notes that just a straight replacement of all currently existing anti-poverty programs could provide a basic income to the poorest Americans to the tune of 20k per year (probably more once increased efficiencies of removing all of these program costs are added in).


That article mostly only advocates it on the "less evil than the current system" basis, and that's based on an impression of our current economic costs of social safety nets that may be inaccurate. Now, sure, they're costly, but relative to a basic income system, they end up being relatively small. A UBI ends up being a ridiculous whale of a governmental program, and it may be difficult for some to envision without doing the math. Their apparent belief that it would be less costly than the current system does not stand up to investigation.

But it's most correct to say that the article discusses the issue, not endorses it.

[edit]Like, as soon as you accept the premise that there ought to be some assistance provided to people who don't have the means to provide for themselves (on moral or humanitarian grounds, if not necessarily economic ones), you're pretty much going to either have to look at something like this or something like a welfare state. Maybe there's other options, but it's probably going to be one or the other, or a mix of both.


Only if you make the jump from "there ought to be" to "the government ought to".

Libertarians tend to dislike that particular jump. Sure, once you jump to making it a government responsibility, you end up with some programs...but where you draw the lines does matter to some degree. Republicans seem to care a great deal about only helping the worthy, whereas Democrats seem to have a more egalitarian approach, but in either case, the difference of scale for UBI ends up being a very significant difference.


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