Libertarianism

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Weeks » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:34 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:And like holy fuck, are you really here defending indentured servitude right now?
To a degree, yes. Clearly abuses exist in that realm; the question is whether the objection is to the concept or to the abuses.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:51 pm UTC

ucim wrote:"Indentured" is not the same as "involuntary",


You can do the thing you're contracted to do, or you can voluntarily choose jail.

That doesn't sound like much of a choice to me.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:55 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If one person owned literally all wealth, then yes, you would no longer have choice, and people would only be as free to choose as that individual is benevolent. Given the track record of one person having ultimate power, this seems to be a poor bet. Fortunately, this is not the case.

If one fraction of the populace owns all the wealth, are not the remaining populace their slaves collectively? If your only choice is which slave master to serve, but you are required to serve one of them or another or else, is that really not slavery?


One entity is not the same as even a few entities. The former is a monopoly, and the latter provides competition(assuming we avoid collusion, etc).

Also, you're not required to work for anyone at all. You can start your own business if you wish. It's desirable that we reduce obstacles to that, of course, but even now, you can, and a decent percentage of people do.

Additionally, rich people do not own all property. They own a significantly greater than proportionate share, but definitely not all. It is still entirely normal for individuals in many countries to own their own homes or small businesses. Yeah, practical limits exist on how much you can reasonably own, but we are definitely not in a scenario close to slavery in most countries.

One could make a case for say, Quatar, though. It's a good deal closer than the US is. Quatar is not much like a libertarian state, though.

Thesh wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:We measure wealth in money. Do I need a citation for that as well?


Your argument was it resulted in less wealth. Saying that we spent more money on something doesn't imply that we have less wealth.


The exact effect on wealth depends on what you get in return. Spending money on health care is often a net gain.

However, spending more on health care for the same effect is a comparative loss.

Thesh wrote:You ignored the rest of my question. At what point do we go from everyone except for the one person who owns wealth being a slave to no one being a slave?


It's a standard monopoly issue. If one entity monopolizes the labor market, they will cause that market to become unfree. The labor market works no differently than any others.

As a general rule of thumb, three entities that are competing will suffice to make a market properly competitive. A lot of large markets are dominated by three large generalist companies, along with a variable number of specialists. Exceptions exist. If one of the largest generalists grows too large, that may be a warning sign that they're shoving one of the other entities out, and may be attempting to gain a monopoly. Large mergers between the top entities can also reduce competition as the number of entities with a meaningful share of the market decreases.

It's always the case that a tiny minority of the population will control a market, regardless of if that market is soda, or cars, or aircraft. Nevertheless, there is a huge practical difference between one person attaining a monopoly, and competition between a handful of players.

The above is all standard economics, and is not specific to libertarianism.

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
We measure wealth in money. Do I need a citation for that as well?

The question of if the gains in terms of equality, etc are worth the cost, sure...that's a standard argument, and the answer will vary depending on your values and the specific safety net in question, but the fact that safety nets require a good deal of wealth, and contain an economic flaw that will increase that drain at least somewhat is pretty basic.
The fact that wealth is not zero-sum is also, I should think, pretty basic, and yet here you are pretending that returns on investment are only possible for corporations.


This is a blatant misrepresentation of my comments in this thread. I invite you to reread them and note the many other explicit examples, and we can perhaps discuss my actual words.

Pfhorrest wrote:I was editing this into my previous post but I've been ninja'd meanwhile...

on the topic of enthusiastic consent vs coercion: you understand that coercion is not only on threat of violence, right? Like, a guy tells a girl he'll spread some horrible humor about her around their college if she doesn't sleep with him, and she believes him and is afraid of that consequence, so she does it, that's coercion. (That's basically blackmail, which we already brought up earlier). Or, a guy sees a homeless woman starving on the street and suggests that he can toss her some food money if she... y'know... [gestures].... That's coercion too


Spreading lies is, of course, libel/slander. That definitely constitutes coercion. Libel and slander are already illegal/immoral, so threatening to do them without recompense is not terribly different from the example of "I won't give your kids back unless paid".

The latter is more interesting. Is it wrong to offer people jobs because they are poor and starving? Would the same standard be applied if it wasn't sex work? Let's take your assumption that it's not, and it's possible to generalize to all work. Is a person doing wrong by offering employment of any kind to the poor? Libertarianism would say no. Yes, their poverty may limit their options, but unless you've created that poverty, you're not morally responsible for that. You're merely increasing their number of options by one. If you had walked by and not made a job offer, that person would not be better off.

It's not limited to the starving, either. Perhaps someone could offer a person a million dollars to drive a car they think is ugly and wouldn't otherwise drive. Sure, almost everyone will accept that offer. That doesn't make it forced. It's just sufficiently weighted that the most advantageous decision is obvious.

Pfhorrest wrote: it's that the fact that people are in this hopeless position where they have no choice but to turn over their bodies for other people to do what they like to in order to survive is an unjust prior circumstance, so the justice of the individual transactions following from that circumstance is kind of irrelevant.


Why should we assume that the position of someone in poverty is necessarily unjust? It might be just or unjust, and in any case, it is unlikely to be caused by the individual now offering them employment. Sure, if it is, then that person is just using garden variety force, and no conflict exists. But if it's not caused by that individual, and even if it is unjust, why is it only moral to offer employment to those who are not victims of circumstance? Surely a policy of only employing those who have never been victimized would only victimize people further.

Pfhorrest wrote:Basically, agreements between vastly unequal parties are not really freely made. Freedom demands equality. You cannot actually be free without being equal enough not to be dependent on those who you're supposedly free from. Dependency is contrary to freedom.


If that is the case, can any person meaningfully agree with government?

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Consent is binary. Either you give it or you don't.
Coersion isn't binary. It occurs by degree. Consent can be given freely, grudgingly, or helplessly. That is the continuum under which it occurs. See again "your money or your life".


Under a libertarian viewpoint, that is simply interpreted as "not consent", and the resulting exchange of money is considered theft. What gain is there to be had by considering it differently?

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I'm all for trying out ideas to try to better humanity, but I think our government should be based on the sort of humanity we have now, and allow the possibility for change, rather than being reliant upon it.
This is why I favor (restrained) capitalism over socialism. But in that case, greed (normally a vice) provides fuel for the economy that would otherwise be absent. It still needs steering, and I acknowledge that. But in the case of libertarianism, I don't see an equivalent benefit. It seems to me more like a codified version of heartlessness. It's touted to increase "freedom", but I don't think that it actually does this. There are a few good points about libertarianism, but as a social and legal framework, I think it misses something vital, and I'm not sure how to add that back in.


Looking over the history of government, the institution of laws or power structures that could be abused, but which society depended on humanity's better nature to not abuse them....it's rough. Abuse happens a lot when you rely on people to simply do the right thing.

Codification from a pessimistic viewpoint appears to be essential, or else someone will eventually abuse power for their own ends. Sure, people can be better, sometimes, but not everyone is, and those who seek power are often the sort to abuse it. Many people didn't think Trump could become president, but now that he is, existing checks and balances on executive power are appreciated by many. Hell, a lot of people wish we had more of them. One doesn't need cynical safeguards for the good men, one needs it for the bad.

Thesh wrote:Slavery: a system in which people in power limit opportunity for others for the sake of personal gain.


This is true of slavery, but one could use the same definition for nearly any power structure. Therefore, this seems to be a very vague definition of slavery. Not all power struggles are slavery, slavery is a term for one of the worst possible outcomes of loss of power.

Indentured servitude is historically distinguished by enforcement via state violence. In this regard, it differs from regular labor. The "paying in advance" is not a problem, and is merely a normal debt. The state use of violence to compel work is a problem.

As an aside to whoever asked the room and board question. That's actually fine with me. Happened in the old west sometimes. Nobody has money, so they exchange services. You work some amount in return for room and board. In a world with fiat money, barter is a lot less practical nowadays, but it's not morally wrong.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:35 pm UTC

People seem to be fundamentally missing the point of the hypothetical one-person-owns-everything scenario. Given “libertarian” laws, that scenario is essentially tyranny and slavery because the one owner can deny anyone everything and leave them to die if they don’t do what the owner wants, because it’s all the owner’s property and his choice what circumstances he will allow it all to be used.

There is a smooth gradient from there to the real scenario we actually live in, as the number of owners increases and the different degrees of ownership/non-ownership increases with that. Is there some line where it suddenly stops being tyranny and slavery and becomes pure freedom and if so where; or does the degree of tyranny and slavery merely diminish, without ever changing in kind?

Also with regard to consent and prostitutes, you completely missed the point that the Johns (employers) aren’t the problem per se, the capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive, which in turn requires people to go out and work for others, are the problem. They are the pimps. Where’s my money, ho?

Also, self employment is still working for other people, your clients. The opppsite to working for others is living off the labor of others.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:49 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Under a libertarian viewpoint, that is simply interpreted as "not consent", and the resulting exchange of money is considered theft. What gain is there to be had by considering it differently?
In any continuum, there will be endpoints. I agree that this is a case of "not consent". But how far into "enthusiastic consent" is it necessary to go for your view of libertairian binary consent to flip over? Do people actually "enthusiastically consent" to the terms in their CC contract or email provider contract or to Facebook? I claim that the gradations are significant enough and important enough that the simplistic idea that consent is binary is just wrong.

Tyndmyr wrote:Codification from a pessimistic viewpoint appears to be essential
Agreed. But libertarianism seems to be codification of a pessimistic viewpoint, which is quite different.

Tyndmyr wrote:Indentured servitude is historically distinguished by enforcement via state violence.
SecondTalon wrote:You can do the thing you're contracted to do, or you can voluntarily choose jail.

That doesn't sound like much of a choice to me.
I agree, ST. The "enforcement via state violence" is a problem. Debtors' prisons were a thing, but they were a Bad Thing. I however have no problem with the enforcement of contracts (that were freely made). Especially when the benefit was paid up front. It's kind of like a book advance. You are contracted to write the book. You can't give the advance back because you spent it (on food, housing, whatever). Now what?

Pfhorrest wrote: [T]he capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive, which in turn requires people to go out and work for others, are the problem.
You mean, like...grocery stores are the problem?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:07 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
gmalivuk wrote: You didn't just want to clarify, at least at first. You declared that you wouldn't discuss it at all if Thesh was talking about anything other than the chattel variety.
[Citation needed]. And no, saying that "otherwise we'll just be talking past each other" is not refusing to discuss it.
Saying that's a different conversation carries the implication that you won't discuss it as part of this conversation.

gmalivuk wrote:Any job that pays me money can be used to pay off a normal debt. If one employer is a shithead I can in theory change jobs and work to pay off the debt in a better environment. I still have some freedom and choices, in other words, which don't exist in an indentured servant relationship.
Ok, this is a significant difference. It bundles a long-term work contract with a debt. Yes, that can become abusive. It however is not inherently abusive.
What the fuck do you think indentured servitude actually is?

But no, it is not actual slavery, and using the word "slave" to mean this, while colorful, is disingenuous in a serious discussion.

If you get to treat indentured servitude as simply a fine and normal way to pay off debt, Thesh and I get to call working for a sub-livable income "wage slavery".

Tyndmyr wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
We measure wealth in money. Do I need a citation for that as well?

The question of if the gains in terms of equality, etc are worth the cost, sure...that's a standard argument, and the answer will vary depending on your values and the specific safety net in question, but the fact that safety nets require a good deal of wealth, and contain an economic flaw that will increase that drain at least somewhat is pretty basic.
The fact that wealth is not zero-sum is also, I should think, pretty basic, and yet here you are pretending that returns on investment are only possible for corporations.

This is a blatant misrepresentation of my comments in this thread. I invite you to reread them and note the many other explicit examples, and we can perhaps discuss my actual words.
Your actual words were that linking to a generic overview of the free rider problem was sufficient citation for all past and future discussions of the economic effects of safety nets. You seem to be implying that because there's inherently some inefficiency, they necessarily result in an overall loss of wealth.

To which I pointed out that you understand the idea of return on investment in corporations, which can also happen despite waste (it's not as if any company in history didn't have waste), so where's the disconnect in thinking that some loss in a safety net necessarily reduces overall wealth?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:12 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:People seem to be fundamentally missing the point of the hypothetical one-person-owns-everything scenario. Given “libertarian” laws, that scenario is essentially tyranny and slavery because the one owner can deny anyone everything and leave them to die if they don’t do what the owner wants, because it’s all the owner’s property and his choice what circumstances he will allow it all to be used.

There is a smooth gradient from there to the real scenario we actually live in, as the number of owners increases and the different degrees of ownership/non-ownership increases with that. Is there some line where it suddenly stops being tyranny and slavery and becomes pure freedom and if so where; or does the degree of tyranny and slavery merely diminish, without ever changing in kind?


It's not a particularly smooth line. It's monopoly or not. We've already established that monopolies are bad and unfree earlier in the thread, and it only takes a few significant independent players in a market to make any market not monopolistic.

If you wanted to be technical, a two player market operates a little different than a 3+ player market, so one can make a case for three steps of freedom.

Workers are not slaves to business for the same reason that businesses are not slaves to workers. If there was a single labor union that had a monopoly on all labor, then sure, you could postulate something like that. However, that's not the case, and is not likely to be.

Also with regard to consent and prostitutes, you completely missed the point that the Johns (employers) aren’t the problem per se, the capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive, which in turn requires people to go out and work for others, are the problem. They are the pimps. Where’s my money, ho?

Also, self employment is still working for other people, your clients. The opppsite to working for others is living off the labor of others.


The nature of pimps is not particularly based on consent. All libertarian transactions, to include rent, are.

One would need to work even if rent did not exist. That's not a thing caused by those who rent out property. The specific example was working for food. One doesn't rent food, it's consumed. And those who rent do work.

Consider the landlord. Sure, housing is a necessity, but if you rent out a house, you must still interview the tenants, maintain the house, pay the taxes, repair breakages, go to court if the tenant does not pay, and so forth. This is all work. Now yes, you can hire someone to perform that work, and if the exchange rate between what you pay them and what they make you is favorable, still retain some profit. In this case, you are in management. This financial scenario is not different from any other case of managing employees.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Under a libertarian viewpoint, that is simply interpreted as "not consent", and the resulting exchange of money is considered theft. What gain is there to be had by considering it differently?
In any continuum, there will be endpoints. I agree that this is a case of "not consent". But how far into "enthusiastic consent" is it necessary to go for your view of libertairian binary consent to flip over? Do people actually "enthusiastically consent" to the terms in their CC contract or email provider contract or to Facebook? I claim that the gradations are significant enough and important enough that the simplistic idea that consent is binary is just wrong.


For all three of those, most people have probably not even read them, and do not know what they are. Consenting to something of which you are not even aware is a bit of a farce.

Consent for libertarian terms is not so much about enthusiasm as it is about choice. If you enthusiastically click the button to zoom past the EULA, that does not mean that the EULA is a valid contract. I understand what it's talking about in terms of freedom with regards to sex, but the principles involved, while identical between the two, are not primarily based on enthusiasm.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Codification from a pessimistic viewpoint appears to be essential
Agreed. But libertarianism seems to be codification of a pessimistic viewpoint, which is quite different.


How so? We're quite fond of charity and what not. Folks are free to do all the good they care to.

ucim wrote:I agree, ST. The "enforcement via state violence" is a problem. Debtors' prisons were a thing, but they were a Bad Thing. I however have no problem with the enforcement of contracts (that were freely made). Especially when the benefit was paid up front. It's kind of like a book advance. You are contracted to write the book. You can't give the advance back because you spent it (on food, housing, whatever). Now what?


At that point, it's standard debt collection. The company can collect what they can, and take you to court for a judgement if you have wealth but are not repaying. If you have no wealth to take, well...debt has risk. They can report it to a credit reporting agency or similar. Government is involved to the extent that they are required for a justice system, but a debtor's prison basically allows a company to offload some of the cost of risk to the government. Also, most modern day debts you can go to jail for in the US are a result of the government(child support, taxes, etc). You *shouldn't* be jailed for being late on your credit card bill.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:14 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote: [T]he capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive, which in turn requires people to go out and work for others, are the problem.
You mean, like...grocery stores are the problem?

No, and wow, I wonder if you're being willfully obtuse here. (But then I wonder that a lot).

A grocery store is just a business. They do probably own some capital, but mostly for their own use. I'm not using their capital, so they're not demanding money from me if I want to use their capital. If you wanted to look for a 'pimp' in that direction, you'd have to look a lot further, past the store, past the suppliers whose products the grocery store stocks, past the makers of those products (though their factories are a kind of capital), past the farmers who grow the ingredients that go into those products, on to whoever owns the land and equipment used to do that farming. Much more the land than the equipment.

But that's the farmer's 'pimp', not mine. An average person's 'pimp' is their landlord, and the bank(s) to whom they are indebted. Those are the people saying "where's my money bitch" to everyone every month.

Yeah, even without them, people would still need to buy groceries, and someone would have to work to supply those groceries. But like you say, that's just nature. It's people getting in the middle of that process and extracting value out of it for themselves just by virtue of being the gatekeeper of the stuff used to make it all happen that's the problem. Even if I had a magic Star Trek replicator that could provide me all the material stuff I needed for free, I would still owe someone money (and in my case, not even because I willingly borrowed anything, but just because I have to be somewhere and anywhere I might be, someone will demand money for that), and still have to go work for someone else (who works for someone else who ultimately works for someone who doesn't work and just lives off of rent and interest) to pay for that.
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Weeks » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:17 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I agree, ST. The "enforcement via state violence" is a problem. Debtors' prisons were a thing, but they were a Bad Thing. I however have no problem with the enforcement of contracts (that were freely made). Especially when the benefit was paid up front. It's kind of like a book advance. You are contracted to write the book. You can't give the advance back because you spent it (on food, housing, whatever). Now what?

Jose
Ok, so there must be a way to enforce indentured servitude contracts.

So society doesn't have a way to enforce indentured servitude contracts without state violence or abuse by the slaveowner, I mean employer.

So state violence and abuse are bad things.

So indentured servitude is a bad thing and there's no need to defend it.

ucim wrote:Any such situation can be abused - it's the abuses that need to be focused on.
Certain situations are more likely to end in abuse, there are a select few which 100% of the time are abusive, and one of those is being defended by you, because I guess you believe in concepts like unicorns and nice capitalists or something.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:22 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote: [T]he capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive, which in turn requires people to go out and work for others, are the problem.
You mean, like...grocery stores are the problem?

No, and wow, I wonder if you're being willfully obtuse here. (But then I wonder that a lot).

A grocery store is just a business. They do probably own some capital, but mostly for their own use. I'm not using their capital, so they're not demanding money from me if I want to use their capital. If you wanted to look for a 'pimp' in that direction, you'd have to look a lot further, past the store, past the suppliers whose products the grocery store stocks, past the makers of those products (though their factories are a kind of capital), past the farmers who grow the ingredients that go into those products, on to whoever owns the land and equipment used to do that farming. Much more the land than the equipment.


Farmers often own their own land these days, though some rent*. It's not super profitable. Farming is a mature industry, and the total money the industry gets is decreasing. Per the USDA, 2018 numbers are expected to be down about 7%**. I don't think that owning farmland is an obscene cash cow breaking the economy. It's not even a major corporate activity(the first source lists non-family corporations as holding only about 5% of farmland) In addition, over time, we see fewer tenants and more owner/operators, not more. Note that as agricultural exports are projected as flat, it is difficult to blame the decrease on the trade war.

*https://www.census.gov/prod/1/statbrief/sb93_10.pdf
**https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45117.pdf

What evil is perpetrated by the rental of farmland?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:41 pm UTC

Farmland rent is not the biggest of problems today, sure, but I didn't start in on that, that was just responding to Jose's nonsequitur about grocery stores, and how far-removed from anything resembling a problem they are, in compared to things that are much more problematic and much more obviously what we're talking about.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:46 pm UTC

Gotcha, is there a better real world example of a problem in renting today you'd like to toss around?

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:52 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Indentured servitude is historically distinguished by enforcement via state violence.
SecondTalon wrote:You can do the thing you're contracted to do, or you can voluntarily choose jail.

That doesn't sound like much of a choice to me.
I agree, ST. The "enforcement via state violence" is a problem. Debtors' prisons were a thing, but they were a Bad Thing. I however have no problem with the enforcement of contracts (that were freely made). Especially when the benefit was paid up front. It's kind of like a book advance. You are contracted to write the book. You can't give the advance back because you spent it (on food, housing, whatever). Now what?

It's nothing like a book advance.

If I get an advance from you to write X books in Y years, and I fail to do so, you take me to court and recover your losses. Something like that makes a sort of sense as the value of a book is highly variable as are the value of the work hours to produce it - if I spend three months working on four chapters, throw them all out at the end of it and in a fit of inspiration crank out 15 chapters in one month - the three months were not of a lesser value and the one month is not a higher value because of the nebulous nature of the creative process.

In addition, you are giving me an advance for a defined number of very distinct items in a very exact timeframe - X books, Y years, sometimes Z sales. There are no ways in the contract for the number of books to increase or the number of years for failure to meet the numbers, if it was 12 books in 10 years and 12 sellable books are turned in within 9 months the contract, the author doesn't have to stick around for another 9 years and so on. Sales are sometimes done on an advance paid unless the sales aren't a certain number by a certain day and then a portion of the advance is paid back...

Honestly, it has more in common with a bank loan or a office supply chain making a deal with an office than it odes indentured servitude.

And I say that because - a book publisher will only give a decent advance to someone who has already proven they can move books. Some random newcomer is not even going to get a $50,000 book advance. They'll be doing good to get a $10,000 advance for their first book - the range is between $5000 and $15,000. Even at the high end, you'll need to put out three books a year - books that at least meet the Publisher's sales needs to meet your advance too, and at $15,000 that's between 10,000 and 15,000 books. Publishers do well to break even, and most authors don't exceed their advance so the advance is all they get for the book. It's not that Publishers are greedy goblins and want to keep it all for themselves - it's that there are so many books written every year and only so many buyers out there. Publishers would love for that $5000 advance to be burned through nearly instantly and have to pay $4,000,000 in royalties every year to the author, who they'll then start giving $4mil advances to. Because they're still making more money off of it.

That said, the Publisher is the one taking the risk in the deal. The Author gives them a book, the Publisher prints the book and puts it out there and spends what they figure is a reasonable amount for marketing (which will be minimal) and word of mouth does most of the real work... but the loss is on the Publisher, and the worst the Author can expect is to not sell another book (something they're probably used to as they've been trying to sell a book for a decade)

Indentured Servitude is nothing like that. Indentured Servitude is people with no other options trying to escape a shitty situation by entering a slightly less shitty situation. The person paying the upfront costs is not facing risk as whatever the cost was for the initial agreement - I'm working mostly of Colonial US Indentured Servitude here, which was typically the boat ride over plus room, board, some clothing, and the going away gift basket at the end of the contract - and the contracts were often written in such a way as to incur further costs to extend the length of the contract.

Basically, I strongly disagree with

I however have no problem with the enforcement of contracts (that were freely made)


as those are contracts made under duress. If I hold a gun to your head and tell you that you have five minutes to get five miles from me before I start shooting and someone offers you a seat on their motorcycle to get away... but only if you agree to perform whatever labor they require for a month and here's a contract to sign up for it - that's not freely made. But that's the only way indentured servitude contracts come in to play.

Because if they weren't exploiting people, if the contract wasn't strongly in favor of the person holding the rights to labor, if it was a freely made contract between parties of equal negotiating power - it'd be a damn labor contract with wages, hours of employ and so on.


Full disclosure here - Using the numbers listed here, I consider 25% of US Soldiers to have joined in under duress.

Benefits: A significant number of soldiers (32%) called military benefits a major motivation for enlisting: health care, active-duty tuition assistance, and post-service support structures like the GI Bill. Military service is a “lifeline” for some Americans, the researchers note, citing one single mother who joined “just because I had my son and I needed the benefits, I guess you could say.”


Those are not things a person should have to sign up for a reasonable expectation of death in your occupation to enjoy. And yet here we are.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:55 pm UTC

Housing rent, as I've already said many times, is my biggest concern. Including housing lending (mortgages), because interest is just rent on money.

as those are contracts made under duress. If I hold a gun to your head and tell you that you have five minutes to get five miles from me before I start shooting and someone offers you a seat on their motorcycle to get away... but only if you agree to perform whatever labor they require for a month and here's a contract to sign up for it - that's not freely made. But that's the only way indentured servitude contracts come in to play.

I like that this example has the person creating the unjust situation and the person exploiting it for their benefit as separate parties, since that's the way it usually is in real life.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:55 pm UTC

Though I guess we can simplify that as two parties are needed for an abusive relationship, three parties are needed for an exploitative one - with the obvious statement that the exploitation occurs due to Party A and Party B having an abusive relationship, but Party A and Party C having a slightly less abusive one, making it the preferable one and, thus, the exploited one.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:35 pm UTC

What's wrong with renting housing? Is there a counter-example we can look to of a society without renting to compare?



That's an interesting point. I don't consider wanting benefits along to be enough to constitute duress, but some people have joined the military as an alternative to going to prison(I served under at least one airman who made that choice). That's a choice with duress clearly involved.

The former...well, a risky job should receive better compensation. But "join or go to jail" is definitely duress. It runs into some of the same conflicts of interest as for-profit jail systems. Fortunately, I think it's gone out of style in the modern era. The modern volunteer service is somewhat better, though definitely still imperfect.

Forcing folks into the military, or tricking them in with bad information, probably isn't considered enough, but it's a straightforward NAP violation. Hell, recruiters telling lies to sign people up is a stereotype, not one society seems all that concerned about.


Anyway, exploitation. I don't think it's necessarily wrong for a person to make money in helping people out of bad situations. A person who wants to be paid a salary in exchange for rebuilding something destroyed by violence is not evil. He'd want the same salary if building for another reason, yes? Of course, there's also the issue of solving the original force. Regardless of if you offer a ride or not, or accept money for it or not, the threat remains, and is unsolved. Another person may simply be shot instead. If you remove the duress, you also incidentally remove any potential exploitation.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:12 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What's wrong with renting housing? Is there a counter-example we can look to of a society without renting to compare?

I for one wouldn't claim there's anything wrong with renting housing in principle - indeed, there are some countries like Germany where renting not owning is the norm (or, that was the case when I last looked at least) - however it has gone badly wrong in some countries like the UK where people bought second homes because renting produced a better rate of return than a pension fund - which made house prices rise - which made it attractive to park your capital in housing even if you never rented it out - which made house prices rise further - with the net effect of making the rich much richer and the poor much poorer - since the poor very often have no choice but to rent.

As I say, I'd have addressed this on the supply side by building a load of government housing including half-a-dozen or so new cities.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:16 pm UTC

If allowed, I'd imagine private folks would love to build additional housing if it's so profitable. The US has housing shortages in a few areas as well(Bay area is brutally expensive), and they often coincide with strict building restrictions. Is that the case in the UK as well?

I can see that in some dense cities, one might literally run out of room, but that shouldn't be the case for the whole country.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If allowed, I'd imagine private folks would love to build additional housing if it's so profitable.

Planning permission and NIMBYism are part of the issue, yes, but houses can't be built in isolation - you need to build roads, utilities, schools, hospitals - basically whole communities - which makes sense to do with public funding and an overarching plan.

This is why housing isn't a normal commodity like coal or even a foodstuff. It's not something the market alone can address, and too many politicians here pandered to the middle-class vote and saw house prices rising at many multiples of inflation as a good thing instead of looking to the big picture and pulling the levers available to them to keep house prices stable.

Again, this is one of the flaws of democracy: Politicians look to keep voters happy over a period of a few years; What happens a decade or two hence matters not one jot to them. And the housing issue here has been at least three decades in the making.
Last edited by elasto on Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:37 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:37 pm UTC

Infrastructure is necessary, sure. So, basically, government's complicit in locking off the supply? Yeah, that's unfortunate. The US had our own bout with "housing is going to appreciate forever", and it was generally terrible.

It helps if you can move some of those infrastructure elements into the public sector, so politicians have fewer levers to pull to such ends, but when it comes to natural monopolies, you probably can't privatize all of them. Only makes sense to have one set of power wires to your house, after all.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I don't consider wanting benefits along to be enough to constitute duress,

When that's your only reasonable option - you cannot go to college because you can't afford it, your local jobs are terrible and low paying (if they even exist), you cannot get enough money to move, you have family members relying on you for support (especially ones with medical conditions), and/or you have prior mistakes (unplanned pregnancy at 16, for example) that are affecting your ability to improve your situation...

Basically, things that can only be defeated by "Don't be born poor" "Be born somewhere else" or "Go back in time and don't make that mistake" - those are duress.

Joining the Army is often touted (or at least it was in my rural high school in the late 90s) as an essentially free way to get a shot at a college education without needing to spend your own money. And perhaps at the mid 90s it wasn't necessarily a bad deal as for two years of service. Since 9/11 the requirements and payouts were changed, it needs 3 years of service but has a 100% payout (rather than a under 70k limit) but I'm not sure how that works out for the particulars and the current costs of college.

But yes, there were several people in my hometown for who a military career at 18 was basically their only option to not have their working career be "Maybe possibly promoted to Assistant Manager of the Wal-Mart or McDonalds" or get lucky enough to get one of the few jobs at the local cookie factory. Other than that, you could live at home and deliver pizzas or something for a couple of years to save up enough cash to move to a larger city and, with your mighty High School Diploma and possibly some Community College Classes (if your shitty ass Guidance Councilor reminded you that was a thing) get an associates in... something? and find a job that could get you somewhat approaching a middle class lifestyle - which of course would require a half decade of nothing going wrong, ever.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Infrastructure is necessary, sure. So, basically, government's complicit in locking off the supply? Yeah, that's unfortunate.

Yeah, I regard it totally as a failure by the politicians. But that doesn't mean I think less government intervention would have worked out better. Personally, the idea of private cities sounds like something out of a dystopian sci-fi...

So government will always be intimately involved in the success or otherwise of the housing market, and I really hope they pull their finger out and address the matter over this coming decade. Both political parties here are making the correct noises in terms of acknowledging the problem; Not sure either of them have the will to actually get anything done though - especially if it threatens the middle class vote.

Brexit hasn't helped in this regard - the government has passed, if not literally, then almost literally no legislation this parliament because of how much work Brexit entails...

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:06 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I don't consider wanting benefits along to be enough to constitute duress,

When that's your only reasonable option - you cannot go to college because you can't afford it, your local jobs are terrible and low paying (if they even exist), you cannot get enough money to move, you have family members relying on you for support (especially ones with medical conditions), and/or you have prior mistakes (unplanned pregnancy at 16, for example) that are affecting your ability to improve your situation...

Basically, things that can only be defeated by "Don't be born poor" "Be born somewhere else" or "Go back in time and don't make that mistake" - those are duress.


It's a good way out of bad situations. Sometimes the best way out for some. The fact that it's their best option doesn't make it evil.

Sure, there's risk involved. This is true for a lot of jobs, though. Lotta jobs where I grew up were logging or mining, either of which can have significant physical risk/bodily toll. Bailing on such an area for a job with more potential makes a lot of sense. I have zero regrets about joining the military and never moving back. Now, maybe the risks are misrepresented to eager young recruits, and that's a fair point, but their existence in general is unavoidable, and I can't think of a better way for people to take them other than volunteering and being well compensated for them.

Joining the Army is often touted (or at least it was in my rural high school in the late 90s) as an essentially free way to get a shot at a college education without needing to spend your own money. And perhaps at the mid 90s it wasn't necessarily a bad deal as for two years of service. Since 9/11 the requirements and payouts were changed, it needs 3 years of service but has a 100% payout (rather than a under 70k limit) but I'm not sure how that works out for the particulars and the current costs of college.


Post 9-11 GI bill is awesome compared to what came before. Extensions of time limits on use, larger amounts paid...it's generally a big improvement. You can also transfer the benefit to an immediate family member which is pretty nifty.

But yes, there were several people in my hometown for who a military career at 18 was basically their only option to not have their working career be "Maybe possibly promoted to Assistant Manager of the Wal-Mart or McDonalds" or get lucky enough to get one of the few jobs at the local cookie factory. Other than that, you could live at home and deliver pizzas or something for a couple of years to save up enough cash to move to a larger city and, with your mighty High School Diploma and possibly some Community College Classes (if your shitty ass Guidance Councilor reminded you that was a thing) get an associates in... something? and find a job that could get you somewhat approaching a middle class lifestyle - which of course would require a half decade of nothing going wrong, ever.


Yeah, a lot of local jobs in podunk towns were pretty rough. Military is the best option for many people. It's good. More ladders out of backwater towns is desirable, and I see nothing wrong with that. The fact that something is the best available option doesn't make it force, or unethical.

elasto wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Infrastructure is necessary, sure. So, basically, government's complicit in locking off the supply? Yeah, that's unfortunate.

Yeah, I regard it totally as a failure by the politicians. But that doesn't mean I think less government intervention would have worked out better. Personally, the idea of private cities sounds like something out of a dystopian sci-fi...


Less the whole city being owned by one dude, that'd be like...neofeudalism or something, and more just having more private options for things. Private schools getting built generally isn't a big problem. Frequently, US developments will put in some degree of infrastructure during construction. They do the whole neighborhood at one shot, usually townhouses or the like, and put in local roads, pools, handle water, sewage and power hookups. Sure, you still need government involved to approve the construction, and the development company needs to deal with government agencies for each of those things...but the endpoint construction is all handled in house.

You can also do things like home solar if you wish, and essentially use the grid as a battery, getting money off your bill for your contributions, and sometimes actual cash, depending on production and area. In that way, you're acting like a mini power company. Things like that are cool. In more rural areas, a lot of houses do their own well and septic, and install their own access roads when required. The chunk of land I have has fairly modest regulation for what I can do with it for the east coast, and if the construction is small enough, requires no inspections, approvals or permits whatsoever. It mostly works out. That's normal for rural areas, and while you get some rural areas that are ugly as a result, they mostly don't have housing shortages.

I'm not 100% certain of how exactly Brexit'll work. Kinda just...watching and seeing how it goes mostly. Definitely seems big, but my knowledge about politics on that side of the pond is rather less. Any thoughts as to how long the legislative roadblock might last?

As regards the middle class vote, that's kind of true in the US as well. A lot of problems can be laid to rest at the feet of the Boomer generation prioritizing their mostly middle class needs over just about everything else. Mortgage deduction favors the standard nuclear family with a white picket fence, but means they're effectively subsidized by renters. You've likewise got some strong generational divides on social issues such as gay marriage. It's...not great.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:20 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
The nature of pimps is not particularly based on consent. All libertarian transactions, to include rent, are.
Legally, in many places, someone can be considered a "pimp" simply for accepting money from a sex worker in exchange for some benefit. So, like, if I rent an apartment to a sex worker, now I'm a pimp because they're paying some of their dirty sex work money to me in exchange for a place to live.

Even if you want to focus on something a bit closer to the stereotype I'm sure you're picturing when you see the word "pimp", it could basically amount to the same role any other agent plays.

The "nature of pimps" is a continuum just like many other things, your unwillingness to acknowledge that notwithstanding.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Farmers often own their own land these days
That depends on who you're counting as "farmers". Most of the actual work on farms is done by hired workers who most certainly don't own that land. [source]
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:27 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Frequently, US developments will put in some degree of infrastructure during construction. They do the whole neighborhood at one shot, usually townhouses or the like, and put in local roads, pools, handle water, sewage and power hookups. Sure, you still need government involved to approve the construction, and the development company needs to deal with government agencies for each of those things...but the endpoint construction is all handled in house.

That seems fair in principle, but in this case wouldn't that just result in house prices going up even more? After all, now the housebuilder has a lot more build expenses and so has to mark up the sale price to compensate, which would quickly ripple through existing house valuations.

So unless I'm missing something it seems like it's still better to pay for the local infrastructure out of general taxation, even if in theory it'd make sense to make the beneficiary (the house-buyer) pay. Government can recover their investment through property taxes anyhow, if you wish.

You can also do things like home solar if you wish, and essentially use the grid as a battery, getting money off your bill for your contributions, and sometimes actual cash, depending on production and area. In that way, you're acting like a mini power company. Things like that are cool. In more rural areas, a lot of houses do their own well and septic, and install their own access roads when required. The chunk of land I have has fairly modest regulation for what I can do with it for the east coast, and if the construction is small enough, requires no inspections, approvals or permits whatsoever. It mostly works out. That's normal for rural areas, and while you get some rural areas that are ugly as a result, they mostly don't have housing shortages.

The US has a lot more land; It's also a lot easier for someone rural in the US to be self-sufficient - not just better weather meaning solar is viable, but there's a lot more big game to be hunted, culturally hunting with guns is a lot more accepted etc..

I'm not 100% certain of how exactly Brexit'll work. Kinda just...watching and seeing how it goes mostly. Definitely seems big, but my knowledge about politics on that side of the pond is rather less. Any thoughts as to how long the legislative roadblock might last?

Can't see it lasting less than five years myself. It's been almost two years already and the government still seems to have no internal consensus on what kind of Brexit they want - let alone coming up with a plan realistic enough for the EU to agree to.

In the short term I'd bet my (rented) house on both sides agreeing to a 'transitional period' which basically continues the status quo for another couple of years - long enough for both political parties to put their Brexit plans into their election manifestos.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:34 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
The nature of pimps is not particularly based on consent. All libertarian transactions, to include rent, are.
Legally, in many places, someone can be considered a "pimp" simply for accepting money from a sex worker in exchange for some benefit. So, like, if I rent an apartment to a sex worker, now I'm a pimp because they're paying some of their dirty sex work money to me in exchange for a place to live.


The particular example I was responding to was a "where's my money, ho" example. I didn't pick it, but I'm pretty sure they weren't talking about a standard apartment rental.

However, you make a good point about the ridiculous nature of paternalistic legislators. Those definitions are a bit insane.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Farmers often own their own land these days
That depends on who you're counting as "farmers". Most of the actual work on farms is done by hired workers who most certainly don't own that land. [source]


Of course. Retail workers don't own the walmart they work at, either. But if we're focusing in on rent as the problem, it seems we need to figure out why it is seen as such. Someone working for a paycheck doesn't seem to change much if the land is rented or not. I'm not certain exactly why others see rent as a problem, but perhaps it'll be expanded upon more.

elasto wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Frequently, US developments will put in some degree of infrastructure during construction. They do the whole neighborhood at one shot, usually townhouses or the like, and put in local roads, pools, handle water, sewage and power hookups. Sure, you still need government involved to approve the construction, and the development company needs to deal with government agencies for each of those things...but the endpoint construction is all handled in house.

That seems fair in principle, but in this case wouldn't that just result in house prices going up even more? After all, now the housebuilder has a lot more build expenses and so has to mark up the sale price to compensate, which would quickly ripple through existing house valuations.

So unless I'm missing something it seems like it's still better to pay for the local infrastructure out of general taxation, even if in theory it'd make sense to make the beneficiary (the house-buyer) pay. Government can recover their investment through property taxes anyhow, if you wish.

Supply increases, so eventually the price'll fall. Doesn't matter how much you pay to build, there's only so many houses the market can buy. If you have overbuilding, eventually it simply becomes unprofitable to build more.

In terms of how exactly utilities are handled, the roads and pipe have to be put in either way. If the check's being written to the government or another entity, it probably doesn't matter that much. Libertarianism holds that private entities are usually more efficient, but honestly, saving 10% off a water pipe likely doesn't amount to a whole lot compared to the cost of a house. The important thing is getting it built so the supply isn't choked off.

In the country, housing is generally pretty inexpensive, and having fewer utilities is nice. I rent at present, and not having a water bill once I build will be quite nice. Possibly power, too, if I can get enough solar there. A bit of a longer term plan, but something to aspire to. Anyways, a lot of the cost of housing is purely in the land, possibly with additional shortage requirements. Land in the country ends up being a great deal cheaper, and compliance costs are lower, so even if it is logistically harder to haul stuff from home depot to there, and less infrastructure exists, the country house will be cheaper. Size/density of population is definitely a factor though. If nobody can physically see your house from theirs, you're a lot less likely to have folks griping about a spoiled view or what have you. Far less conflict to result in more laws.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:53 pm UTC

The issue being ignored in the part of this discussion about housing rent is land. I barely give a shit about the cost of the structures someone lives in; that shit is cheap in comparison. It's the right to put it somewhere that's a problem. And land is in inherently limited supply: you can't make more of it. So whoever owns it has a huge advantage over whoever doesn't.

I own the structure I live in outright, and I have no qualms whatsoever about having to pay someone or another to build and maintain it for me (or else do that myself). The problem is that, structure or not, there's no way to avoid owing someone money just for existing in the place that they have the right to control. At least until I can become such a person myself, by acquiring enough money, but being not such a person puts me at an enormous disadvantage to acquiring that money, while giving the people I'm having to pay it to a huge advantage in never losing theirs.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
I'm not certain exactly why others see rent as a problem, but perhaps it'll be expanded upon more.

Obviously you disagree with the reasons, but I feel like Pfhorrest at least has explained extensively and repeatedly enough that if you still don't get it, it's not really anyone else's fault at this point.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:15 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:The issue being ignored in the part of this discussion about housing rent is land. I barely give a shit about the cost of the structures someone lives in; that shit is cheap in comparison. It's the right to put it somewhere that's a problem. And land is in inherently limited supply: you can't make more of it. So whoever owns it has a huge advantage over whoever doesn't.


Land is inherently scarce. Building more is difficult at best(though props to the dutch).

I agree that owning it is generally desirable, but without renting, people would still wish to own land, and the supply would remain limited. Doesn't renting give an incentive for people to build more, when they might otherwise simply enjoy having more land for themselves? I don't see a way around the fundamental scarcity issue, but for managing the land we have, holding land in common is subject to the tragedy of the same, so we usually need some property rights, and renting is handy for both parties.

Higher property prices are also an incentive to sell, which is how we get higher density housing and what not. Sure, that eventually hits limits, as you can only build so high in practice, but the hard limits on that are much higher than most locations currently have. Yknow, I think there was an XKCD about the eventual limits of this. Building higher and elevator efficiency...Might have to go look for it later. Anyways, building limitations are a more immediate limit in most locations. Sure, the cost of building gradually grows higher as you need to go higher/cram more people in, but as you say, a structure is often cheap in comparison to the land in urban areas. We shouldn't be experiencing so many housing shortages if land shortages are the only factor.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:25 pm UTC

Yeah, privatization is clearly the only possible resolution of the tragedy of the commons. That's why there are no public parks or literal commons any more.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:44 pm UTC

Maybe double-posting, don't want to get ninja'd:

In markets where there is bountiful, nigh-unlimited supply available, rent doesn't seem like a problem, but not because it isn't a problem, just because you can always just go around the problem. Alice wants to rent something out and Bob doesn't want to rent it, he wants to own it? And there's tons of ownable property available? Awesome, Bob can go own. And if someone for some reason wants to pay and pay and pay forever to Alice and never get any property in exchange for those payments, they're free to do so, but if they're sane and would rather not, they don't have to, because alternatives are availalbe, and everything's fine.

If the market is not so wide open and bountiful, though, you end up with people who have no choice but to rent, because nobody who owns already wants to sell when they can make more money from renting, and people who want to buy and not rent can't just go around them and buy something brand new because there isn't anything brand new to buy. You have to get it from those who already own it, and they have every incentive to price it out the wazoo because they can make indefinite sums of money from you paying them to use it forever if you can never afford to buy, so if you want to avoid paying them that by buying instead, they're going to charge you what a lifetime of rent would cost you anyway.

Consider a toy economy to illustrate why rent is so exploitative. You have two cows people, on an island with just enough land to grow enough food for two people, land of uniform quality, and no other industry besides growing food because it's a tropical paradise and nobody needs clothes or shelter or anything like that. The people are governed by space robots or something; law is imposed upon them from outside, and rigorously, so the actual choices they have available to them are limited to whatever the space robots say they are.

The space robots say the rules are "libertarianism", as you mean it here, i.e. capitalism.

But Alice and Bob each own half of the island, so everything is fine. Alice works her half of the island, and gets enough food for herself, or else if she slacks off she goes hungry but that's up to her and would be the case even if Bob didn't exist. Bob does likewise. Maybe they trade favors for each other, Alice will do some of Bob's farming if Bob will, I dunno, give her a back rub or something. The space robots have currency, and Alice and Bob can use this to keep track of who owes who a favor. If one of them is constantly bugging the other for favors and never doing anything in return, the other will end up with a lot of favors to cash in (i.e. a lot of money). It's important to note here, however, that so far, (let's say it's) Bob may owe Alice a lot of favors, he may be in her debt, but he just owes her what he owes her and isn't sinking further and further into the hole.

Now consider an alternate ownership scenario, but otherwise identical. Alice owns 75% of the island, while Bob only owns 25% of it, instead of half and half. Everything else is the same as before. Now, no matter how diligent a farmer Bob is, and how few favors he asks of Alice, he simply cannot survive just working his own land. He's only going to get half the food he needs and die. Alice, meanwhile, has 50% more land than she needs to grow her own food, which is useless to her because she doesn't need more food, the first half of the island she owns is enough for that. Bob, desperate, begs her to let him use her unused land. She could trade him for it: he can have the land, and in exchange, he owes her a year's worth of crops, to be paid out over the next ten years. Of course that would leave Bob without enough food to eat still, only 90% of his needs, so he would need to get more food from somewhere to survive. Alice says that instead of giving her 10% of his crops, which she doesn't really need anyway because she can get enough food from just half the island, Bob can instead just do 10% of her work for her. She could formally give him a job, pay him currency, and then collect money from him in payment for the land she sold him, and then pay him with that money, but since it's just the two of them may as well cut to the chase and just recognize it as what it is. Bob is doing some of Alice's work for her for a while, in exchange for owning some of Alice's capital.

That seems kinda unfair, but it's just the unfairness of the situation as we started it. Why did Alice get to start with three times as much as Bob? Who knows, but as much as it sucks for Bob, it's not a horrible problem because it fixes itself over time. Bob works for Alice, and Alice gets some leisure time for a while, while Bob gets property, and eventually the transaction is through and now they're equals each owning half the island and it's just like the first scenario.

Buuuut... why would Alice do that, when she could instead get leisure forever and never lose ownership of her property? Because the space robots allow for rent. Alice can tell Bob she she won't sell him her excess land, but he can use it for a year, in exchange for doing 10% of her labor for her over the course of that year. A year later, they're still in the same scenario, and Alice will graciously let Bob use her excess land again for another year, in exchange for doing another 10%... no, let's say it's 11% this year... of her labor. Bob's not happy that it's 11% this year and his situation hasn't improved at all over last year, he's no closer to independence of Alice, despite literally giving it 110% (the 100 for himself and the 10 for Alice) for a whole year? Well, he's always free to decline her offer, and just keep to his own quarter of the island, and starve to death. And he'd better not make too much noise about it, or next year it might be 12% that he owes if he wants the privilege of continuing to live off of Alice's land.


Now extend that toy model to a whole diverse range of types of capital and labor and large classes of owners and workers, and you get a lot of more nuanced situations but the overall principle is the same. The workers work ultimately for the owners (via a lot of intermediate working for each other), and then pay most of what they get in exchange for that work to borrow the stuff that the owners own, that they need to continue living and working. The owners pay for the leisure they enjoy, but the money they pay comes right back to them, and they never lose their ownership; while the workers work and work and work and work and yet somehow year after year are no better off than they started, with no end in sight.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:32 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Saying that's a different conversation carries the implication that you won't discuss it as part of this conversation.
That's not what I said. What I said was that if we don't agree on the meaning of words, then there will be a failure to communicate.

gmalivuk wrote:What the fuck do you think indentured servitude actually is?
I think it is an agreement that, in exchange for a valuable item or service now (e.g. steamship passage to the New World), that one would agree to work for somebody at the destination for a fixed and agreed-upon period of time. For this to be a reasonable arrangement, the terms should be clear, equitable, and agreed-upon. Both parties need to uphold their side of the bargain.

Now, there are cases where actual chattel slavery is disguised as indentured servitude - these are crimes and should be prosecuted as such. They are essentially kidnappings via bait and switch fraud. Often this is perpetrated against the handicapped and defenseless. Such vile criminal activity should be rooted out and killed with fire. But that is not what I am referring to as indentured servitude. That is kidnapping.

gmalivuk wrote:f you get to treat indentured servitude as simply a fine and normal way to pay off debt, Thesh and I get to call working for a sub-livable income "wage slavery".
I'm ok with that, so long as you specify wage slavery. And yes, wage slavery in the extreme cases is also a Bad Thing. But it's also a sliding scale, whereas chattel slavery is not.

Tyndmyr wrote:For all three of those [TOS cases], most people have probably not even read them, and do not know what they are. Consenting to something of which you are not even aware is a bit of a farce.
I think at this point most people know that they agree that the company involved owns their data, can and does spy on them, and can change the terms at will. They don't like it, but they sign up anyway. Grudging consent. It's also grudging consent when I rent a rowboat that I think is worth $6/hr, but pay $25/hr for because that's the price and I still want to fish. I have a choice: I can take it or leave it. They are the only rental company on the lake that I just spent all day getting to.

Tyndmyr wrote:
ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Codification from a pessimistic viewpoint appears to be essential
Agreed. But libertarianism seems to be codification of a pessimistic viewpoint, which is quite different.
How so? We're quite fond of charity and what not. Folks are free to do all the good they care to.
It's not about charity. It's about the legal enforcement of contracts being the be-all and end-all. Every system has bad parts. Capitalism for example leads to undeserved accumulation of wealth and power. However, it harnesses greed to motivate people, leading to greater overall economic health. The undesirable parts of capitalism can be dealt with.

What does libertarianism bring to the table that offsets its harmful side? It's not enough that it codifies from bad behavior, rather, it should harness that bad behavior to produce good, and do so in a way that lets its downsides be mitigated.

Tyndmyr wrote:At that point, [book advance failure is] standard debt collection. [...] You *shouldn't* be jailed for being late on your credit card bill.
Weeks wrote:Ok, so there must be a way to enforce indentured servitude contracts.
I agree. Now, why can't enforcement of indentured servitude be handled similarly?

Pfhorrest wrote:
ucim wrote:You mean, like...grocery stores are the problem?
No, and wow, I wonder if you're being willfully obtuse here. (But then I wonder that a lot).
Yes, I'm being a bit willfully obtuse, but for the purpose of clarification. You said: "[T]he capital-owners who demand money from people if they want access to the things they need to survive..." and that's what grocery stores do. You can't have their property unless you pay for it. You need their property in order to survive. It really doesn't matter whether you need to rent or buy it; you can't have it unless you pay. And if you have no money, you can't pay.

Pfhorrest wrote:extracting value out of it for themselves just by virtue of being the gatekeeper...
Now I do anticipate (like here) you will distinguish between stuff they sell (which is also capital) and stuff they don't sell (which they need to hold or grow the stuff they sell), but the end result is the same. And in any case, the gatekeeper also provides value. Without the farm, there would be no food.

Weeks wrote:...there are a select few which 100% of the time are abusive, and one of those is being defended by you...
It's not the thing that is being abused, it is that that thing is being used as a disguise for something else (which is unforgivably bad). It's that something else that I condemn. Not the thing that's used as a disguise. I'm being very specific, because it's a meaningful difference.

SecondTalon wrote:...as those [indentured servitude] are contracts made under duress.
The source of the duress is important. If the person offering the contract is the one causing the duress, then this is theft (and perhaps kidnapping). But if the duress is simply the existance of a shitty situation that the person offering the contract did not cause, then no. That's like offering a job to somebody that desperately needs one.

Now, to be clear, I'm no expert in colonial history - I only know what I was taught in High School. I'm arguing more from principle (perhaps of the spherical cow variety). And yes, the book author may be contracted for 10 books instead of ten years of being a butler, but I don't see the essential difference between the two that makes one slavery and the other not.

One other difference, at least in colonial times, had to do with the time it took for messages to travel across the sea. The person who would be "hiring" you as a butler isn't the person who you got the voyage from, and you are trusting that the deal is on the up and up.

To the extent that it is, I don't see a problem. But to the extent that it isn't, then it's bait and switch, and perhaps kidnapping.

SecondTalon wrote:Indentured Servitude is people with no other options trying to escape...
No, Indentured Servitude is a tool used by people with no other options trying to escape... It's more akin to loaning money to the poor - something that can be a boon or a trap, depending.

elasto wrote:That seems fair in principle, but in this case wouldn't that just result in house prices going up even more? After all, now the housebuilder has a lot more build expenses and so has to mark up the sale price to compensate, which would quickly ripple through existing house valuations.
But the property taxes would be less because the government isn't putting these things in. It should be a wash.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:42 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Now, there are cases where actual chattel slavery is disguised as indentured servitude
Okay now you're apparently back to thinking the only form of slavery is chattel slavery. Which means all the other forms of slavery that existed for literally thousands of years before that were... what, exactly?

But it's also a sliding scale, whereas chattel slavery is not.
That's because chattel slavery is one of the ends of the scale. But it's absurd and ahistorical to call only that very end "slavery".

(Also ahistorical is your insistence on sugarcoating indentured servitude to mean something it never has in fact meant in practice. Sure maybe you could come up with something less awful that is vaguely similar enough to fit under the same broad label, but I'm pretty sure your imaginary nice version of it is not what anyone else was referring to with the phrase.)
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:44 pm UTC

There's a difference between something you buy to consume, which then doesn't exist any more so you will need to buy more if you need more later; and buying something to use, which you still have after you've used it, and you can continue to use as long as you like (modulo the inevitable decay of everything over time).

Groceries are the former kind of thing, while the topic is obviously the latter kind of thing.

And there not being someone who charges other people for permission to use their farmland doesn't make there no farm.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:46 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Now, to be clear, I'm no expert in colonial history
Yeah I feel like here in SB you ought to either know what the fuck the words you're using mean, or if you don't, you should at least start with the disclaimer that you're using words to mean things no one else uses them to mean. That way the rest of us know to ignore what you say, perhaps in favor of what it looks like you might want to mean if we give you more benefit of the doubt than you deserve.

(And again, if you're going to use unmodified "indentured servitude" to refer to your happy equitable imaginary version, then I'm about to stop saying the "wage" part of "wage slavery" and just start referring to all of it as "slavery". Each decision contributes about the same amount of clarity to the discussion.)
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Angua » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:53 am UTC

Indentured servants were often treated worse than slaves. If they died before their time was up, then you didn't have to pay them...
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:53 am UTC

ucim wrote:But the property taxes would be less because the government isn't putting these things in. It should be a wash.

No, because currently road-building, school-building, hospital-building etc. comes out of general taxation.

It makes a difference because we're considering the effect of a policy on the housing market specifically.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:51 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I'm arguing more from principle (perhaps of the spherical cow variety). And yes, the book author may be contracted for 10 books instead of ten years of being a butler, but I don't see the essential difference between the two that makes one slavery and the other not.


Alright. What would a non-exploitative Indentured Servitude contract look like and how would it differ from current Employee Contracts?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:44 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Maybe double-posting, don't want to get ninja'd:

In markets where there is bountiful, nigh-unlimited supply available, rent doesn't seem like a problem, but not because it isn't a problem, just because you can always just go around the problem. Alice wants to rent something out and Bob doesn't want to rent it, he wants to own it? And there's tons of ownable property available? Awesome, Bob can go own. And if someone for some reason wants to pay and pay and pay forever to Alice and never get any property in exchange for those payments, they're free to do so, but if they're sane and would rather not, they don't have to, because alternatives are availalbe, and everything's fine.

If the market is not so wide open and bountiful, though, you end up with people who have no choice but to rent, because nobody who owns already wants to sell when they can make more money from renting, and people who want to buy and not rent can't just go around them and buy something brand new because there isn't anything brand new to buy. You have to get it from those who already own it, and they have every incentive to price it out the wazoo because they can make indefinite sums of money from you paying them to use it forever if you can never afford to buy, so if you want to avoid paying them that by buying instead, they're going to charge you what a lifetime of rent would cost you anyway.


Ah, so you're more bothered by rent if owning is not an option, not when a choice exists between the two.

That's reasonable. If there are no houses for sale anywhere, then choice is restricted. I definitely think that personal ownership should remain an option. As far as pricing goes, no one entity should have a monopoly, so they shouldn't be able to force you to buy at insane prices. Are you postulating that the market's broken somehow in that respect? It seems as if in an area where there isn't anything new to buy, you'd have shortages in any case, and prices would spike, rentals or no.

The toy economy makes a decent example, but the big problem that arises "Alice won't sell land" is primarily a result of a monopoly situation. Bob has nobody else he can buy land from. If a range of people exist, their needs and desires will differ, and at least some will wish to sell.

Sure, owning things can be a good way to build equity, but it isn't always superior. In particular with housing, if you intend to live in an area for only a year or two, you'll probably spend more on the transaction costs of buying than you will renting.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:For all three of those [TOS cases], most people have probably not even read them, and do not know what they are. Consenting to something of which you are not even aware is a bit of a farce.
I think at this point most people know that they agree that the company involved owns their data, can and does spy on them, and can change the terms at will. They don't like it, but they sign up anyway. Grudging consent. It's also grudging consent when I rent a rowboat that I think is worth $6/hr, but pay $25/hr for because that's the price and I still want to fish. I have a choice: I can take it or leave it. They are the only rental company on the lake that I just spent all day getting to.


I like the rental company example, because the agreement to the price is explicit when you fork over the money. This constitutes consent. You might wish to pay less, but both of you have agreed upon the price. How enthusiastic you are over the deal doesn't matter, there's still no wrongdoing here.

ucim wrote:It's not about charity. It's about the legal enforcement of contracts being the be-all and end-all. Every system has bad parts. Capitalism for example leads to undeserved accumulation of wealth and power. However, it harnesses greed to motivate people, leading to greater overall economic health. The undesirable parts of capitalism can be dealt with.

What does libertarianism bring to the table that offsets its harmful side? It's not enough that it codifies from bad behavior, rather, it should harness that bad behavior to produce good, and do so in a way that lets its downsides be mitigated.


The downsides of capitalism are largely seen as regulatory capture and cronyism by libertarians. Getting rid of that and strictly enforcing anti-fraud is, while challenging, pretty much how you make markets actually work.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:At that point, [book advance failure is] standard debt collection. [...] You *shouldn't* be jailed for being late on your credit card bill.
Weeks wrote:Ok, so there must be a way to enforce indentured servitude contracts.
I agree. Now, why can't enforcement of indentured servitude be handled similarly?


You can have a similar arrangement, sure. However, it would probably not be called indentured servitude for the same reason we don't describe a book advance as indentured servitude.

It shares one trait, payment in advance, with indentured servitude, but indentured servitude means a helluva lot more than that. So much so that if you use it to describe every instance of payment in advance, you'll be gravely misunderstood.

ucim wrote:Now, to be clear, I'm no expert in colonial history - I only know what I was taught in High School. I'm arguing more from principle (perhaps of the spherical cow variety). And yes, the book author may be contracted for 10 books instead of ten years of being a butler, but I don't see the essential difference between the two that makes one slavery and the other not.


If the author doesn't come through, he's not going to go to prison. That constitutes force.

The book advance ends up being morally okay. The historical kind has problems.

Pfhorrest wrote:There's a difference between something you buy to consume, which then doesn't exist any more so you will need to buy more if you need more later; and buying something to use, which you still have after you've used it, and you can continue to use as long as you like (modulo the inevitable decay of everything over time).

Groceries are the former kind of thing, while the topic is obviously the latter kind of thing.

And there not being someone who charges other people for permission to use their farmland doesn't make there no farm.


In a larger society, it does. A lot of farmland was carved out of wilderness, and if you, say, let trees grow up, or let erosion occur, farmland can become unfarmable. More importantly, land has a lot of other uses. If someone does not wish to farm, and owns farmland, and cannot rent it, he may use it for another purpose. Maybe he enjoys hunting, and uses it as a place for him to hunt. People pursue economic incentives, and thus when an option is profitable, more resources are devoted to it. Eventually this reaches a balance, but land ends up working like pretty much everything else in this respect. Sure, land as a whole may be finite, but the land devoted to farming is variable.

elasto wrote:
ucim wrote:But the property taxes would be less because the government isn't putting these things in. It should be a wash.

No, because currently road-building, school-building, hospital-building etc. comes out of general taxation.

It makes a difference because we're considering the effect of a policy on the housing market specifically.


Schools are usually largely funded by property taxes, at least in the US. It's part of the reason why schools are funded vastly differently depending on the area. It's not 100%, since most things are funded by a mix of taxation sorts, but it's a decent summary.

Local road construction is also largely a property tax thing. Six of one, half dozen of another. You're gonna need similar services either way, how the money flows getting there is the main difference.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby doogly » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:35 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I definitely think that personal ownership should remain an option.

I'm sticking with all property is theft.
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