Where does inflated value go?

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CorruptUser
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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:47 pm UTC

There are many definitions of market failure. Most involve some form of deadweight loss, or externalities. Externalities are things where the customer or producer don't bear the full cost or see the full benefit of a product, classic example pollution where the factory isn't the one paying for the damage, or CPR training at work that ends up saving lives outside of the workplace. Deadweight losses are where taxes or price controls shift the demand or supply curves away from equilibrium and total surplus decreases. But taxes are weird, in that all taxes cause a deadweight loss, but the spending causes a gain, and depending on how and what you tax and how you spend you can increase or decrease total surplus.

Interestingly, not all agree that the firm squeezing out every penny they can and keeping the entire surplus for themselves through different pricing is or is not a failure. E.g., the shopkeeper knows how valuable a good is, and charges you a different amount than someone else, with everyone whose demand is at least the variable cost gets the goods/service. That the shopkeeper gets 90+% of the actual benefit while the customer is barely better off is not of concern to some, so long as the total benefit is maximized. Typically they can't do this directly, but they can offer student/senior discounts to charge more or less by the cohort's expected wealth, offer coupons for poor people to use, charge different amounts in different regions, etc.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby ucim » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:48 am UTC

elasto wrote:For me, governments have a duty both to make me happy and to prevent me from being unhappy...
What is your duty in all of this?

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:42 pm UTC

1) Don't do things that make others unhappy, within reason
2) Pay your taxes so that government can help prevent people from being excessively unhappy

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby ucim » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:52 pm UTC

So... you have no duty to yourself to take care of your own happiness? You just sit around expecting some other entity to "make you happy"?

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:11 pm UTC

Government prevents others from unreasonably making you unhappy. It's a disagreement as to whether they should make you happy. We have things like food stamps and the like to prevent excessive misery, but not so much as to make you happy on welfare. Many actually resent the idea that people on welfare could ever be happy, but those people are dicks. As for duty to make yourself happy, by definition duties aren't about yourself.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby ucim » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:53 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:It's a disagreement as to whether [government] should make you happy.
Yeah, that's where we disagree.
CorruptUser wrote: As for duty to make yourself happy, by definition duties aren't about yourself.
That's not true. There are many cases in which you have a duty to yourself, such as a duty to wear seat belts or get vaccinated or get educated. Arguably these are also duties to others (to prevent them from getting sick or having to take care of you), but the point is the onus is on you to take care of yourself.

This includes things like saving for retirement, which "takes money out of the system" and "reduces efficiency" but for a good reason.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby Thesh » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:57 pm UTC

You have a moral responsibility to the people who depend on you. Saying "free market" or "voluntary contract" does not absolve you of that responsibility. The vast majority of people in this country are wholly dependent on property controlled by other people for their survival, and thus the people who control that property have to look out for the happiness of the people who depend on them. Since most of the people who control property feel they have absolutely no responsibility to the people who depend on them, it becomes the responsibility of government to ensure the happiness of everyone.
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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:09 pm UTC

Your duty to wear a seatbelt is more a duty not to mentally scar onlookers with your mangled corpse, a duty not to waste hospital resources, or a duty not to turn your kids into orphans.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:20 pm UTC

Happiness is a pathetic metric since it is undefinable. The government has an obligation to level the playing field as much a is possible. If it can't make things better then certainly it shouldn't make things worse.

The government has to recognize that not all people are as capable as others. Either through systemic inequalities, of happenstance. When it can, if it can, it has an obligation to provide some minimum level of protection to every citizen. What that means will always be in contention.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:08 pm UTC

There's also the issue of how to level the playing field. Ensuring that the kids don't show up without shoes or too hungry or sick to play, e.g. welfare, is one piece. Then you have the issue of kids never having been allowed to play so of course they arent as skilled as the ones that have been coached since preschool, and how you go about correcting this is another piece, whether it's funding little leagues for everyone or forcing teams to draft players they'd otherwise not draft is a thorny issue.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:05 pm UTC

So... you have no duty to yourself to take care of your own happiness? You just sit around expecting some other entity to "make you happy"?

This question can be safely postponed until some future utopia arrives. Where the government can't find anything else to do that helps people, except by chasing some passive people who sit round and wait to be made happy.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby elasto » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:11 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
elasto wrote:For me, governments have a duty both to make me happy and to prevent me from being unhappy...
What is your duty in all of this?

People don't need a duty to make themselves happy - it's the default mode for everyone. People who are self-sacrificing do it because it makes them happy. People who are vapid consumerists do it because it makes them happy too (albeit fleetingly).

I'm not saying governments have a duty to do anything and everything to make us happy, or that if we're unhappy it's the government's fault. There's plenty of room for the blame to be shared around between ourselves, our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, our employers, our coworkers - as well as every level of government etc. etc.

I don't think any of us here are really disagreeing that the government has a duty of care towards its citizens; We are merely disagreeing as to how far that duty of care goes. I think the Scandinavian countries are pretty close to my ideal actually, fwiw: When people need a helping hand - whether that's in terms of unemployment, ill-health, addiction, falling into criminality etc. - the government is pretty generous in extending it.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:18 pm UTC

Surprisingly, I'm actually in favor of the government providing people jobs. Ideally, this would be through R&D grants or art subsidies, not as ideal but acceptable would be directly hiring people as teachers or police and the like. Because ultimately, when the factories are all but automated, when the cars drive themselves, when the mines are 'lights out', the only real options you have are either figure out how to turn the bulk of humanity into an organic factory for churning out engineers, artists and scientists, or just rounding up said bulk and turning them into burgers. And I don't like the burger idea.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby slinches » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:18 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I don't think any of us here are really disagreeing that the government has a duty of care towards its citizens; We are merely disagreeing as to how far that duty of care goes. I think the Scandinavian countries are pretty close to my ideal actually, fwiw: When people need a helping hand - whether that's in terms of unemployment, ill-health, addiction, falling into criminality etc. - the government is pretty generous in extending it.

Philosophically, I disagree with government having a duty to support its citizens. Instead, I think people should have a duty to support their own friends, family and communities. Government's role should be in enabling and encouraging this type of support rather than providing support directly. Who better to help those in need than those who know them and care for them personally? Pushing it off on "the government" is a cop out. The government is just other people, after all. So that means it's just pushing off the responsibility to show compassion and offer a helping hand onto others. That helps cultivate the culture of apathy towards those in need as it allows people to "do their part" through taxes, absolving them of any guilt for failing to helping others on a personal level. Besides, I think we can help others more effectively if everyone actively participated by helping another person one-on-one, when they can. It would put less burden on each of us since the help each person needs is what they get instead of a blanket government program that provides everyone in trouble the same thing regardless of their situation.

Of course, I don't think that would actually work in today's society. I see it more as a long term goal, but one we'll never be able to achieve if we continue to push off our responsibilities onto the collective rather than owning them ourselves.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby speising » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:55 pm UTC

people who are in need and have friends, families, and communities who are there to support them do not need government help. but what about those who are not so lucky? the governments role, among others, is to help those who need that help because they have no one else.
generally, the government has to step in when self regulating mechanisms fail (see capitalism, environment).

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby slinches » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:19 pm UTC

Those who have no friends or family and aren't part of a community of some sort are pretty screwed unless they are very lucky or are willing to seek out help on their own regardless of whether there are government programs for them or not. And if they do seek help, why must it be government rather than a community in the area that provides it? If we give tax breaks or other government support to those that help others, then we can help our society to be self-regulating when it comes to this sort of issue. And that really is the ideal goal I was speaking of: A society that shares the values of generosity and compassion and is willing to give a hand to others at a fundamental level.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby speising » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:41 pm UTC

what is government but a community in the area? how large is the area allowed to be before a good community becomes an evil government?

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:44 pm UTC

The people with the most power to help, and the most responsibility for the poverty and suffering, are people who largely convince themselves that they have no responsibility to others, and throughout history they have always viewed the poor with contempt. Unless you can truly eliminate the inequality, that's simply not a reasonable goal. The fact of the matter is that many communities lack the resources to even be able to take care of themselves without government assistance, and that's purely the fault of the wealthy.
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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby slinches » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:56 pm UTC

speising wrote:what is government but a community in the area?

It's the community using force to influence its constituents. There are other tools like social norms, institutions and structures that can influence such things without resorting to force. Size isn't really a factor.



Thesh, you seem to want to solve the problem by using government force to eliminate inequality. I'd rather solve it by instilling the responsibility to our fellow man in everyone and strengthening social structures that will help it be self-sustaining in our culture.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:17 am UTC

slinches wrote:Thesh, you seem to want to solve the problem by using government force to eliminate inequality. I'd rather solve it by instilling the responsibility to our fellow man in everyone and strengthening social structures that will help it be self-sustaining in our culture.


I want to fix our laws so that every single person has as much control over their own life as possible, and as little control over the lives of others as possible. I want to make sure that, as much as possible, every single person gets out what they put into the economy and everyone has equal ownership of our land, infrastructure and natural resources. If we do not have that situation, we cannot expect to have what you describe.

In a free market, the more others are dependent on you, the more power you have to make money. Capitalism is designed to maximize your ability to make others depend on you, but only if you are already powerful.
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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby slinches » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:52 am UTC

Thesh wrote:I want to fix our laws so that every single person has as much control over their own life as possible, and as little control over the lives of others as possible. I want to make sure that, as much as possible, every single person gets out what they put into the economy and everyone has equal ownership of our land, infrastructure and natural resources. If we do not have that situation, we cannot expect to have what you describe.

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Although, since government is control over the lives of others, I think the fewest laws written in the least restraining way possible while still being effective is the best solution. And that's where the tools of social structures and institutions come in to help minimize the need for additional laws.

This is essentially the core of my libertarian leaning ideals.

Thesh wrote:In a free market, the more others are dependent on you, the more power you have to make money. Capitalism is designed to maximize your ability to make others depend on you, but only if you are already powerful.

Remember that government is a part of the market for power/influence/money, not something that operates outside of it. The same powers that could be used to create more independence will be used for the opposite, if given the chance. It is the most direct and forceful tool we have to control each other. I prefer to keep that power limited and only use it as a last resort. And when it does come to that, put checks and balances in place to help keep it from being abused as best we can.

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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:06 am UTC

Actually, I want a lot fewer laws. I want to replace all consumer and worker protections with broad, but simple, transparency laws and collective bargaining requirements, eliminate patents, and replace copyright laws with copyleft laws, which require a lot less to enforce. I want to replace all social welfare with either a UBI or social dividend on natural resources. We can get 90% of the way there without any government intervention through the use of worker and consumer cooperatives, but it would need to be done on a large enough scale.

Capitalism requires a ton of government regulation and intervention to function, and even then not that well. The real problem is that laws can be changed, no matter what. If you allow people to acquire enough power, they can control government, the media, education. Equality needs to be baked into the system if you want lasting freedom (or freedom in general, as far as I'm concerned).
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Re: Where does inflated value go?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:27 pm UTC

slinches wrote:Those who have no friends or family and aren't part of a community of some sort are pretty screwed unless they are very lucky or are willing to seek out help on their own regardless of whether there are government programs for them or not. And if they do seek help, why must it be government rather than a community in the area that provides it? If we give tax breaks or other government support to those that help others, then we can help our society to be self-regulating when it comes to this sort of issue. And that really is the ideal goal I was speaking of: A society that shares the values of generosity and compassion and is willing to give a hand to others at a fundamental level.


Some problems are just too big or too difficult to solve at this level. You can't, say, build a nuclear power plant, or an interstate highway, or develop new treatments for disease or anything like that if you keep everything at the local level. Sure, corporations can do some of these things, but corporate interests are less likely to align with community interests than an elected government, and a sufficiently large corporation is basically indistinguishable from a government anyway.


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