Libertarianism

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Thesh
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:Authoritarianism isn't a binary thing.


You're the one who wants the government to use it's authority to forbid loans unless they meet the specific, highly unusual requirements you set forth.

We're the ones saying "let them do whatever they want".

So, in this particular example, you are advocating for the authoritarian solution.


That's actually not what I said. I said banks could be allowed to print money by issuing an insurance-backed loan at inflation. I didn't place any limitations whatsoever on what people could do with that money if they had it, including lending it at 500000% APR for the hell of it. It's just that nobody would have a reason to borrow at more than inflation, so it wouldn't be worth it. You're the one who believes that the printing of money should be limited to a single authority, for the sake of allowing the wealthiest to earn money off of their money.

This is a thread about libertarianism, where economic power is proportional to wealth, and democratic authority is minimized. So, if you have an authoritarian view of how the economy should be ran, you have an authoritarian view of how society should be ran. For example, a society in which business owners can forbid black people from doing business is a lot more authoritarian than one in which businesses are required to provide equal service to everyone. Just because you view freedom as being principally the freedom to own property doesn't make you any different than someone who supports aristocracy as a political system.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Advocating for innovation, startups, and industry is not the same as arguing for authoritarianism. It's a simple fact that if you have wealth equality, nobody has control of enough wealth to handle spaceflight. One would need to get a great many people all agreeing to work together on it, and I am unaware of any co-ops that have managed successful spaceflight. In this area, concentrated wealth enables the creation of specialized industry. The same same is true in many other industries. Anything that's specialized and capital intensive is going to be easier to start if one has investment to ease the starting process.


I seem to remember that the United States government has done a bit of space flight, many, many years before it was ever attempted in the private sector. Also the Russians. IIRC, a lot of the R&D necessary to make the iPhone was also done out of government labs.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:32 pm UTC

Nazi Germany did most of the initial development work, and provided most of the education, for building our rockets.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:44 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:That's actually not what I said. I said banks could be allowed to print money by issuing an insurance-backed loan at inflation. I didn't place any limitations whatsoever on what people could do with that money if they had it, including lending it at 500000% APR for the hell of it. It's just that nobody would have a reason to borrow at more than inflation, so it wouldn't be worth it. You're the one who believes that the printing of money should be limited to a single authority, for the sake of allowing the wealthiest to earn money off of their money.


You're imputing morals again. It isn't anything specific to the wealthiest. Loans affect everyone from the top on down, and access to credit correlates with income mobility. If you break the credit market, it becomes a lot harder for the not-wealthy to ever become wealthy.

In any case, you're after "fixing" the market by adding price-fixing to get rid of profit. If you believe this would naturally arise without any sort of authoritarian intervention, why hasn't it? Banks can make a low interest loan now, if they choose. They can transfer that risk to another, if they choose.

If they wanted to, they could even repackage those up, counting on the diversification to make the risk negligible, and sell the repackaged risk off, much like you describe this insurance plan.

This is exactly how the housing industry crashed, and we got a massive recession. We should probably not do that again.

This is a thread about libertarianism, where economic power is proportional to wealth, and democratic authority is minimized. So, if you have an authoritarian view of how the economy should be ran, you have an authoritarian view of how society should be ran.


The second sentence is recursive.

Minimizing authority is, by definition, anti-authoritarian.

For example, a society in which business owners can forbid black people from doing business is a lot more authoritarian than one in which businesses are required to provide equal service to everyone. Just because you view freedom as being principally the freedom to own property doesn't make you any different than someone who supports aristocracy as a political system.


Ideally, nobody has to require business owners serve everyone, and they do so anyway. That is the least coercive state.

A good lawmaker might make laws that are good for equality, but a bad lawmaker can make ones that actively harm it. It's a matter of historical record that segregation was largely enforced legally. It was not *only* a matter of legalities, but laws that overtly discriminated made it's overall harm much worse. Had the government at the time avoided doing that, we'd probably be much better off now.

On the flip side, if a businessman figures out how to sell to everyone, he gets a larger market. Yes, he may have to work around existing prejudices and such, and that can be hard, but profit at least provides a consistent motive to do so. So, if we're using the history of racism as a justification for laws handed down being the best solution, that history is...not great. It's obvious that it would have been far better for the government to have treated people equally from the beginning. Unfortunately, this is another area of past mistakes that any current administration must live with the consequences of.

Property is only one freedom. It's a wide-ranging one, but it applies to other things as well. Free speech makes a good example, since very few people are actually against it. If we allowed government latitude to ban free speech where it thought best, the results of that could easily go awry. As a general principle, it is best to preserve freedoms for all, and limit government ability to ban them. This might result in obnoxious things being said from time to time, but the alternative could be far worse.

LaserGuy wrote:I seem to remember that the United States government has done a bit of space flight, many, many years before it was ever attempted in the private sector. Also the Russians. IIRC, a lot of the R&D necessary to make the iPhone was also done out of government labs.


Yes, but you're not getting that from a co-op.

If you're advocating a state run economy, that's a different kettle of fish, with different tradeoffs.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:53 pm UTC

Socialist: "Why should we allow people to use their power to spite people who they hate?"
Capitalist: "Ideally, everyone would love everyone."
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:15 pm UTC

Is there something wrong with that as a moral goal?

Everyone acknowledges that reality is short of that, but ideologically, what's wrong with it?

In practice, people do use power all of the time to spite those they hate. This is bad enough, but what's truly awful is when they manage to get others to do so as well. A hateful individual is a problem, but if that person gets power over the government, and passes laws to utilize the resources of others to pursue his hatred, he can potentially have an outsized negative effect. Limiting government focuses heavily on preventing the absolute worst cases. There are practical limitations preventing us from stopping literally every expression of hatred, but we can reasonably pursue the goal all the same.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:19 pm UTC

The problem is suggesting that we should not have a right to stop people from abusing power like that, on the hope that the free market will sort it out.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:31 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The problem is suggesting that we should not have a right to stop people from abusing power like that, on the hope that the free market will sort it out.


Certainly you have a right to stop people. The question is merely of how. If you see that someone has values different from yours, you are free to not do business with him, or advocate that others do the same. Provided these value differences do not rise to criminal levels, of course. If he's doing criminal things, call the cops.

There are contexts where a market solution doesn't apply. For instance, government agencies. I can't choose to have someone other than the IRS collect my taxes, so it is essential that the IRS not discriminate in any way. It'd also apply to say, the emergency room. Someone hauled in may have no real other choice for immediate treatment. So there's a similar burden there. Market mechanics can only work where an actual market exists.

But let us say an establishment said that they would not serve Democrats. The sort of place where choice exists. Perhaps a restaurant. In doing so, they deprive themselves overtly of a goodly portion of their potential customer base. They might also offend other customers who would wish to patronize such a place in company with Democrat friends. After all, if a group is deciding where to go, and one member cannot go there, then the group as a whole will choose somewhere else. That business experiences a competitive disadvantage.

The above is actually legal right now. Political party membership is not a protected class. You've got the requisite hatred to make someone dislike the other side. However, it's not common, because the financial incentive not to do so is strong. You may have businesses that are marketed only towards one faction, but it is rare for business to not serve a political party in general.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:33 pm UTC

It kind of reminds me of the failures of anarcho-pacifism. Yes, violence is bad, and in an ideal world we would have none of it. But if, into such an ideal world, some violence arises nevertheless, what do we do about it? Anarcho-pacifism says "turn the other cheek", which just results in whoever decides to be violent having no resistance and ruling unchecked over everyone else. To keep your pacifist society from collapsing upon contact with the first non-pacifist, some violence in response to violence is required.

I hope the analogy here spells itself out clearly enough.

(This was in response to Thesh, but ninja'd).
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:46 pm UTC

I think every libertarian recognizes that unlimited freedom simply leads to domination of the weak by the strong, which is no freedom at all. Where right-libertarians fail is that they define freedom by the non-aggression principle, and then develop a philosophy that assumes the freedom we have over our bodies naturally extends to land and natural resources, and everything that can be made with them. This is where the entire thing collapses. Because discrimination is an act of violence. "If you don't leave my property, I will throw you out by force." It justifies bodily harm by claiming violence against property; not people, property.

A system that seeks to be libertarian needs to see property not as an extension of our body, but simply resources that all of our bodies depend on. Resources, that we are conflicted over. You have a right to swing your fist, up to the point that it hits my face. You have a right to property, but not to the point that it deprives me of mine. If someone is denied access to property entirely, they die. It is a dependency; it doesn't belong to them. Democracy is the tool by which we resolve these conflicts.

There are many corporations in this world that are larger than many economies in this world; at what point does the distinction between private property and government just become meaningless?

My morality is easily summed up: Do not abuse power, live and let live.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:49 pm UTC

Violence falls into crime, and is pretty straightforwardly dealt with in a similar fashion to today. Libertarians are only against initiation of violence. Self defense or law enforcement to fix someone's attempted aggression is fair game.

I think that's nearly universal. Pacifists might not agree with it, but most political philosophies have some similar moral justification.

It is generally important not to respond to words with violence, though. That's a big deal for libertarians. There are a few exceptions, such as libel/slander/etc, but it would not be appropriate to respond to a restaurant banning a political party by burning it down. The restaurateur has a right to his property, and he is not required to serve everyone. The right of free association is important.

The point is to resolve the problem using dollars instead of violence where possible. Just about any social conflict can be resolved by violence if that's the kind of society you want, but if you can solve it in another way, it's generally preferable to do so.

Thesh wrote:There are many corporations in this world that are larger than many economies in this world; at what point does the distinction between private property and government just become meaningless?


This is an interesting question to me. While in practice the two are still reasonably distinct, I do see a theoretical overlap. If, say, Google decided to set itself up as a sovereign entity, what would that entail? This question basically gets us the entire cyberpunk genre, and a lot of fun potentials.

However, in practice, the dividing line is not a dollar value, but sovereignty over land. It is extremely rare for more than one country to assert dominion over a single piece of land in a fashion that isn't messy. Almost every square foot of land is in practice controlled by exactly one government. Companies do not have the same degree of ultimate authority.

If you get to a point where corporations, via private military or what not, do begin asserting exclusive rights over cities or similar and imposing their law, unchallenged by any other over it, then yes, they've crossed over into governmental territory, and ought to be held to those standards. The East India Tea Company is a historical case that gets weirdly close to this. It's not typical, though.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:07 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:You have a right to property, but not to the point that it deprives me of mine.

Interestingly, Locke's own account of the acquisition of private property contains a qualifier to that extent, something to the effect of you can take from nature so long as there's "as much and as good left" for everyone else. Of course like most nuances of many foundational thinkers, this has been widely ignored.

ETA: On the topic of where to divide governments from corporations and the ownership of land: would you say that in a feudal society, the local baron, who owns all the land that the peasants live and work on, is a part of the government? Or the duke or whatever above him? Under feudalism, nominally everything belonged to the king, and he would grant tenancy of parts of the country to his nobles who got to control those parts of it, and would grant tenancy to lesser nobles, and so on until eventually some minor noble granted tenancy to a peasant who actually worked the land. I think looking back on it we generally consider everybody but those final peasants to be part of the feudal government.

Our system of property title today is not very different. Even if you "own" your land, you're actually a fee-simple tenant of your state, who is the actual final landowner of all land. If you rent your home, how is your landlord not effectively as much a part of the government as a baron would be under feudalism? Yes, what our government (and landlords) can do is legally much more limited than back then, but that doesn't make the government as we usually think of it not a government anymore, so why would it make modern "barons" not government either?

And really, what practical difference does it make if we're talking about land or any other kind of capital? The money you use to live and work is borrowed from some bank or something; you're essentially "occupying" their capital the same way you would land, and paying them "fief" for your "tenancy". The bank in turn is borrowing it from the Fed. So how is the bank not every much a part of the effective government as a feudal baron was?

In short, all of the capitalists between the nominal government and the little people at the bottom of the heap are effectively no different from government from the perspective of the common man. "Landlord" even has literal "lord" right there in the name, ffs.
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:17 pm UTC

My problem with most thinking on that matter is it tends to only consider how your actions affect those around you. You also need to be considerate of future generations; we should try to make sure that the individuals who will be alive in the future are going to have at least as much as we do today. At this point, we have had enough abundance that it hasn't been a problem. 1000 years from now? Capitalism has absolutely no mechanism to limit overconsumption.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:43 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:ETA: On the topic of where to divide governments from corporations and the ownership of land: would you say that in a feudal society, the local baron, who owns all the land that the peasants live and work on, is a part of the government? Or the duke or whatever above him? Under feudalism, nominally everything belonged to the king, and he would grant tenancy of parts of the country to his nobles who got to control those parts of it, and would grant tenancy to lesser nobles, and so on until eventually some minor noble granted tenancy to a peasant who actually worked the land. I think looking back on it we generally consider everybody but those final peasants to be part of the feudal government.


I'd consider those hierarchies of government, somewhat similar to local/state/federal government today. Each is exclusive within its tier of control, but there's a clear hierarchy to it overall.

Our system of property title today is not very different. Even if you "own" your land, you're actually a fee-simple tenant of your state, who is the actual final landowner of all land. If you rent your home, how is your landlord not effectively as much a part of the government as a baron would be under feudalism? Yes, what our government (and landlords) can do is legally much more limited than back then, but that doesn't make the government as we usually think of it not a government anymore, so why would it make modern "barons" not government either?


I'd consider state and local governments to be somewhat similar. In special cases, like HoAs, you can get into strange quasi-governmental areas, where, despite you owning the property, there can be additional restrictions levvied.

Rental is different from ownership...even among the peasant class back then, there were different tiers. In general, folks who didn't own property had rather less wealth/freedom than those who did, but none are treated as tiers of government unless they had people beneath them, not merely property. It was also an era in which some forms of peasants were tied to the land, and were quasi-slaves in some fashion...that particular lack of freedom complicates things. The relationship between a slave and a master, or a serf and a landholder, is very similar to a government in some fashions. They have a lot of power over you, and simply moving away can be difficult.

In general, I'd characterize the improved freedom since then as a vast improvement in terms of libertarian ideals. Even when people nostalgically look back on a rosy tinted view of the past, they're usually envisioning life as one of the higher classes, not as a serf or similar. Some libertarians like to consider how to make governments more of an opt-it schema similar to getting a job or renting a house as another step down that path. I admit, making that work in practice seems...difficult. But in theory, people selecting the form of government they prefer, despite where they live, would be a nice goal. Just practically extremely troublesome.

And really, what practical difference does it make if we're talking about land or any other kind of capital? The money you use to live and work is borrowed from some bank or something; you're essentially "occupying" their capital the same way you would land, and paying them "fief" for your "tenancy". The bank in turn is borrowing it from the Fed. So how is the bank not every much a part of the effective government as a feudal baron was?


The fed does irk libertarians. It's a strange public/private preferential arrangement that blurs lines a bit. You'll see a lot written about it as a result, and some of it borders on the conspiratorial.

The great advantage of the modern era is that power has been broken up. In the olden days, if you displeased your lord, you were pretty screwed. If you piss off your credit card company, the worst they can do is deny you further credit for the most part. They can opt not to do further business with you, but the same is true for you in turn. Generally, they cannot turn you out of your house for not paying your credit card bill, and if you don't pay off your mortgage, you generally lose only the house, and your car cannot be taken as well. This allows a great deal more individual choice than feudalism did for the lowest tiers of society.

Ultimately, though, the difference is that the bank can't send people to murder you for not paying, and if they try, you can appeal to the state for defense. If the state decides to murder you, there is no higher authority to overrule. At a logical extreme, everything comes down to force, even if we prefer to use it as rarely as possible in practice.

An ideal government does look somewhat more like a corporation. We don't let corporations hand out the death penalty, and libertarians mostly agree that we'd be better off if the state didn't use that either. So, to some extent, they would get more similar.

Thesh wrote:My problem with most thinking on that matter is it tends to only consider how your actions affect those around you. You also need to be considerate of future generations; we should try to make sure that the individuals who will be alive in the future are going to have at least as much as we do today. At this point, we have had enough abundance that it hasn't been a problem. 1000 years from now? Capitalism has absolutely no mechanism to limit overconsumption.


This is a general problem with the idea of leaving enough for others, under any system. If one burns the last barrel of oil, one has not left enough for the next generation. Okay, what if one burns the next to last barrel of oil? Well, if they have to leave the last one for the next generation as well, then clearly we can't burn the next to last one. By induction, we can't burn any oil.

One can attempt to mitigate this by apportioning it out such that each generation has an equal amount of natural resources to burn, but that would require knowing how many future generations there will be, and perhaps the size of those generations. This is a fairly challenging problem, and it exists regardless of which economic system you prefer.

Ultimately, we probably cannot leave everything as good or better than we found it. Some resources must be used. Technological progress is really the only counter-force to this, as it allows us to increase our efficiency at resource generation for many things, but one can't very well develop additional technology without expending resources.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:59 pm UTC

I mean, close control of printing money is...probably a good thing given the whole "risk of inflation and money supply issues".

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:10 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:I mean, close control of printing money is...probably a good thing given the whole "risk of inflation and money supply issues".


Yes, libertarians are always worried about that. So much so, that they want higher interest rates, even though higher interest rates slow economic growth. They think inflation is inherently bad and inequality is inherently good, and that's why they love gold and bitcoin. In periods of growth, inflation would increase, and limiting it would just reduce the availability of funding for additional investments. There is a potential for a bubble, but as inflation goes up so do insurance costs for debt, which places a limit on it - remember, you can only borrow what you can pay back at inflation.

Instances of hyperinflation tend to be in response to a complete economic collapse and excessive international borrowing, rather than just people over-zealously printing money for the hell of it. The government starts printing to pay its debts, because the country itself is broke.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:25 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
dg61 wrote:I mean, close control of printing money is...probably a good thing given the whole "risk of inflation and money supply issues".


Yes, libertarians are always worried about that. So much so, that they want higher interest rates, even though higher interest rates slow economic growth. They think inflation is inherently bad and inequality is inherently good, and that's why they love gold and bitcoin.


These are sort of parodies of the beliefs, not much like the actual things.

Inflation, for instance, creates higher interest rates. After all, if the inflation rate is high, nobody wants to loan money at a loss, so interest rates tend to climb. Being concerned about keeping inflation limited to a modest amount helps control interest rates. You also want it to be, as much as possible, consistent. A steady amount of small inflation is manageable. People can plan for it, interest rates don't bounce all over the place, and life goes on. Dramatic changes are difficult, though. Variable rate mortgages climbing vastly in price...people getting stuck with high fixed rate mortgages if they want to buy....sudden spikes cost lots of folks a great deal.

As a matter of fiscal policy, it might seem ideal to aim for no inflation or deflation at all, but that's challenging. Nobody controls the economy perfectly, and variation inevitably happens. Deflation can get quite bad, causing recessions or depressions, so generally, it's preferable to err on the side of inflation a little bit. This doesn't make inflation good in a more is better sense, it's just sensible risk management.

None of the above is even specific to libertarian thought, it's pretty standard economic thought for most.

Crypto is still speculative. It might work out. It might not. You don't have to love it to be a libertarian, nor does being curious about it make you one. It's mostly a futurist thing, honestly. So, significant overlap, but definitely not 1:1.

In periods of growth, inflation would increase, and limiting it would just reduce the availability of funding for additional investments. There is a potential for a bubble, but as inflation goes up so do insurance costs for debt, which places a limit on it - remember, you can only borrow what you can pay back at inflation.

Instances of hyperinflation tend to be in response to a complete economic collapse and excessive international borrowing, rather than just people over-zealously printing money for the hell of it. The government starts printing to pay its debts, because the country itself is broke.


Yeah, hyperinflation invariably results in things going to crap in short order, and anyone sane will avoid hyperinflation as long as possible. So, it's something that is only done by people with poor options. Invariably, hyper-inflation follows increasing printing of money. Usually it's an escalating cycle as they print enough to damage the economy, and try to get out of it/stave off collapse by printing more. The point isn't merely to avoid the end of that cycle...once you get to a certain point, it's too late to stop. The point is to have a sound fiscal policy in the first place, with a stable currency, and avoid getting anywhere close to potentially triggering that.

The idea that printing money is merely the result of hyperinflation, and not the cause, is trivial to disprove by looking at historical events. Simply look at which event came first. You can *also* get inflation by choking off production. Both result in a suddenly increasing ratio of currency to goods. Obviously, a country shouldn't do either of those.

The US benefits greatly from the dollar being mostly stable, and we ought to preserve that as much as possible. Likewise, any other country is benefited by having a stable currency and financial system. When a currency goes to crap, it invariably bodes poorly for that country's economy. Let's consider, say, the Confederate hyperinflation bubble. Only real US hyperinflation example. https://inflationdata.com/articles/confederate-inflation/. It tracks directly to monetary supply, not to say, military defeats.

Of additional potential interest, Politifact came down extremely harshly on Cortez's economic statements of late. She(a socialist with a bachelors in economics, no less) made some statements regarding the reasons for low unemployment that do not match up with the data.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/jul/18/alexandria-ocasio-cortez/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-wrong-several-counts-abou/

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:39 pm UTC

I think if Libertarian-Capitalism is actually going to be functional, at least three things need to happen:

1) Limited liability corporations need to be eliminated. You want to say a corporation is a part of your body, then you are legally liable for all of its actions.
2) Absentee ownership needs to be eliminated. There is absolutely no good reason to allow people to just accumulate wealth by buying up properties with money earned just sitting on their ass. This includes intellectual property.
3) People need to be legally liable for the products they sell; they don't get to pass the buck, the blame is all down the supply chain.

If you have this, you might be able to have fairly efficient markets, provided you can come up with a currency scheme that doesn't inherently leave you with both high real interest rates and deflation. At least there would be pressures to prevent an individual from accumulating too much wealth since you don't want to have too large a company that you risk not being able to oversee it properly, which can lead to imprisonment.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Rental is different from ownership...even among the peasant class back then, there were different tiers. In general, folks who didn't own property had rather less wealth/freedom than those who did, but none are treated as tiers of government unless they had people beneath them, not merely property.

You get that I was saying that landlords are like government, not just owner-occupied-home owners, right? Landlords have people beneath them.

Ultimately, though, the difference is that the bank can't send people to murder you for not paying, and if they try, you can appeal to the state for defense.

But the state can send people to murder you, and the state generally agrees with the bank that you have to pay them, so the bank just tells the state "he's not paying up" and [lots of intermediate steps of escalation of course but ultimately still] people come to murder you for not paying the bank.

You do get that libertarian forms of socialism are all about not having the state defend capitalists, rather than having the state attack them? Like, if suddenly no private property laws were enforced at all, that would be less government, not more government. Right-libertarianism is less libertarian than left-libertarianism, because it wants the government to do the things that prop up capitalism that left-libertarians would have it stop doing.

It might help to think things through starting with the most libertarian position of all, anarcho-pacifism. I've already described (and you agree, as obviously almost everyone does) that that is too much liberty...

.. wait, it will help if I can get a little bit technical here for a minute.. Rights can be broken down conceptually into active and passive rights, and also orthogonally into first-order and second-order rights. (This has nothing to do with negative or positive rights; any of these types can be either negative or positive). These can be defined in terms of the basic deontic concept of obligation, or duty, to which all other deontic concepts are reducible: permission is the De Morgan dual of obligation, prohibition is the negation of permission, and supererogation is the De Morgan dual of prohibition -- where the De Morgan dual of a logical or mathematical function f(x) is -f(-x), so e.g. you're permitted to do something iff you're not obliged to not do it.

Anyway, a first-order active right is also called a liberty (or sometimes a "privilege"), and is equal to permission to do or not-do something, the absense of a duty. A first-order passive right is also called a claim (or sometimes a "right" simpliciter), and is equal to someone else's obligation, or duty, to do or not-do something to or about you. Claims and liberties subsequently limit each other: you have a liberty to do anything and only thing that nobody has a claim against, and any claim you have (like a claim against being assaulted) limits someone else's liberty. A second-order active right is called a power, and is a liberty to modify first-order rights; this is the sense in which a government has legislative "power", in that it is permitted to change who has what claims or liberties. A second-order passive right is called an immunity, and it a claim against the modification of one's first-order rights; these are the kinds of rights that the Bill of Rights spells out, specifically limiting the legislative power of the government, making people legally immune from that kind of legislation.

Now, all that laid out, I can finally get back to my point:

The most libertarian position of all would be one of, of course, unlimited liberties, which means no claims, which means nothing anybody ever does is considered wrong. This has obvious flaws and pretty much nobody holds this position, as it would be complete anomie.

The closest that anybody does hold is anarcho-pacificism, which says that you at least have a claim against people acting upon your person, which limits others' liberty. Unfortunately, as already spelled out, that has the obvious flaw of making self-defence prohibited, because your attacker also has the same claim against people acting upon their person.

So, we add in a caveat about self-defense, and end up saying that everybody has maximal liberty, except to act upon the person of others, except as necessary to defend against such action upon your own person. This brings us up to a minimalist form of anarcho-socialism, because we still haven't said anything against anyone being permitted to act as they want upon anything else in the world, so everyone has equal and inclusive liberty to use anything in the world and no claim to exclude anybody else from using it too.

We can then add in the concept of property other than one's person, and generalize the one kind of claim we have allowed to be a claim to property, leaving us with the first-order layer of classical right-libertarianism: we all have maximal liberty, except for the claim against actions upon our property (including our person), except as necessary to defend against such actions. We still haven't given an account of how anything rightfully becomes the property of any individual rather than the public at large, but I don't want to rehash that again here.

We could consider systems where there are further claims still, but those wouldn't be remotely libertarian anymore. I just want to note again here though how classical right-libertarianism is the least libertarian of all positions that could be considered libertarian. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the worst (I'm actually a propertarian like that myself), just, if you think more liberty is better by default unless you can justify otherwise, then your default would be more socialist, and you need to justify claims to private property. "Why can't I just go live in any house I find and drive any car I find and eat any food I find?" is a question that needs answering, and a first-pass libertarian consideration would default to "sure go ahead" until it was answered.

We still haven't yet touched on the second-order rights at all, though, and that's the more-neglected kettle of worms.

We might first consider a system where everyone has maximal second-order active rights, i.e. maximal powers, but that has the obvious flaw that anyone can just declare anyone else's claims void using their power and we quickly get tyranny. So the more usual libertarian approach actually starts with maximal immunity: nobody has any legislative power, first-order rights just are what they are, you have what liberties you have and what claims you have and they can never be changed by anyone, any pretense of doing so is illegitimate. Natural rights, more or less.

The problem with that is that you cannot create any new duties, or grant any new permissions, including changing who has what rights over what, i.e. who owns what property. Not even if everyone involved agrees. None of you have the power to waive your own claims to something and grant those claims to a different person instead, i.e. to trade goods. None of you have the power to take on a duty to someone in exchange for them taking on a duty to you in return, i.e. to trade services. I mean, you're allowed to say it, and to follow through on your word if you want, there's no limit to your liberty in that respect, but if everyone has maximal immunity then no such contracts are actually binding and if you renege on your word, tough shit for the other guy. (This maximal immunity also of course makes it impossible for anyone to acquire private property, so even with our final, classical right-libertarian, set of first-order rights above, this second-order scheme still results in effective socialism, because everything remains perpetually in the public domain and cannot be moved out of it). So we usually grant everybody at least one small power that limits that otherwise maximal immunity: the power to contract. By mutual agreement, people can change their claims with respect to each other.

Now we finally have the full picture of rights supported by your classical right-libertarian: maximal liberty except the claim to property except as limited by self defense, and maximal immunity except the power to contract. But I hold that this power to contact, without an exception to itself, can destroy a civilization just as much as the unlimited claim against assault of anarcho-pacifism can. This post has turned out way longer than I intended it to and I'm really tired now and proposing this bit wasn't the point of all of this, so I'm just going to wrap this up quickly. I think that, just as the limit to the claim against assault is basically to allow it to be used against itself (i.e. if someone is acting upon you [or your property], you're then allowed to act upon them as necessary to stop that), so too the limit to the power to contract should be disallowing it to be used in a recursive way like that.

Basically, contractual terms that affect the power to contact should be considered invalid. This means things like non-compete clauses (you can't contract away your power to contract with someone else), but also, most importantly to me, things like rent, and thereby also interest, because you have no power to make yourself obligated to enter into further debt, even in return for something. Essentially, this limits contracts to straightforward trades of goods and services. I will give you this in exchange for that. I will do this for you in exchange for that. I will give you this if you will do this for me. I will do this for you if you will do this for me. Those all create a kind of debt, in the abstract: upon the fulfillment of the antecedent clause, the subsequent clause becomes owed. But in a contract of rent or interest, you're not just agreeing to a debt (to owe back the principle or the property), but agreeing to enter further into debt upon certain conditions (to owe the interest or the rent). Without these kinds of contracts, a whole bunch of capitalist structures suddenly become unworkable, but not because you added more government: because you took away some government.

TL;DR: capitalism is supported by the state, and can be done away with by doing away with parts of the state, not just by adding more state. So at a first glance, a real libertarian on principle should be skeptical of capitalism, and of contacts, and of property, and even of the right to self-defense. All of those things require some kind of justification if you're starting from a maximally-libertarian position, and while I think some (most) of them can be justified, some of them cannot.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:18 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I think if Libertarian-Capitalism is actually going to be functional, at least two things need to happen:

1) Limited liability corporations need to be eliminated. You want to say a corporation is a part of your body, then you are legally liable for all of its actions.


Why would this be important for a more libertarian economy?

A corporation isn't really "part of your body". It's just a convenient abstract entity. The point of an LLC is largely to allow people with less wealth access to the advantages of a corporation. From a libertarian perspective, that's good. We don't want rights gated behind thousands of dollars.

We also generally want to encourage further compartmentalization of risk. This is literally one of the main things separating us from feudalism. So, no, you shouldn't be jailing people for trying to start a business and not making it work. LLCs do not protect one from overt criminal actions...if you form an LLC, you can't go around murdering people. It just means that if you get sued because your startup idea happens to step on someone else's toes, you only lose the business, not your house, your car, your wife's car, and you definitely shouldn't go to jail. Debtor's prison is probably not something to bring back.

2) Absentee ownership needs to be eliminated. There is absolutely no good reason to allow people to just accumulate wealth by buying up properties with money earned just sitting on their ass. This includes intellectual property.


Property management, ownership(or if you have people for that, people management) is a job, and deserves compensation.

If you have this, you might be able to have fairly efficient markets, provided you can come up with a currency scheme that doesn't inherently leave you with both high real interest rates and deflation. At least there would be pressures to prevent an individual from accumulating too much wealth since you don't want to have too large a company that you risk not being able to oversee it properly, which can lead to imprisonment.


Stagflation is a result of disregarding libertarian economic theory. See also, conflict with Keynesian economics. This actually provides one of the most popular extant disprovals of Keynesian economics, and is routinely trumpeted as proof of correctness by libertarians. We're not huge fans of wage and price controls, nor of solving budgetary concerns via printing tons of money. These sorts of problems are more of a concern for literally any other political/economic philosophy.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Rental is different from ownership...even among the peasant class back then, there were different tiers. In general, folks who didn't own property had rather less wealth/freedom than those who did, but none are treated as tiers of government unless they had people beneath them, not merely property.

You get that I was saying that landlords are like government, not just owner-occupied-home owners, right? Landlords have people beneath them.


No, they don't. The landlord/tenant relationship is not very similar to that of a peasant/lord relationship under feudalism. The latter was essentially attached to the land, and was in some respects equivalent to property, and the lord had legal power over them in various respects of their lives. The only real counterbalance in power was the Church. Kind of.

The modern landlord/tenant relationship is exceedingly different. For one, it's pretty easy to break a lease. If you hate your landlord, you can leave. This is like comparing slavery to modern labor. It brushes over some exceedingly important distinctions.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Ultimately, though, the difference is that the bank can't send people to murder you for not paying, and if they try, you can appeal to the state for defense.

But the state can send people to murder you, and the state generally agrees with the bank that you have to pay them, so the bank just tells the state "he's not paying up" and [lots of intermediate steps of escalation of course but ultimately still] people come to murder you for not paying the bank.


Ultimately, you should not be murdered merely for not repaying a debt. You may forfeit any assets acting as collateral, and your credit score might be trashed, but no, you can literally stop paying a debt, and nobody will ever attempt to murder you. Yeah, not paying that credit card bill ever again will cause you difficulty, but it won't cause you to die.

Pfhorrest wrote:You do get that libertarian forms of socialism are all about not having the state defend capitalists, rather than having the state attack them? Like, if suddenly no private property laws were enforced at all, that would be less government, not more government. Right-libertarianism is less libertarian than left-libertarianism, because it wants the government to do the things that prop up capitalism that left-libertarians would have it stop doing.


It might help to think things through starting with the most libertarian position of all, anarcho-pacifism. I've already described (and you agree, as obviously almost everyone does) that that is too much liberty...


If you view "less laws" as always "more libertarian", then anarchy would be the most libertarian government.

In this situation, libertarianism would not be a position, we'd all be anarchists. We're not, so...the axiom this is based on must be called into question. Not all laws are equal. It's not quite as simple as just "less = good". The fact that we want to get rid of many current laws is true, but reducing the entire platform into a couple of words sort of mangles it.

Libertarianism has other rights as well, built likewise off the Non aggression principle and the principle of self-determination. Property is a very important right that stems from them, but it is not the only such right.

Pfhorrest wrote:We could consider systems where there are further claims still, but those wouldn't be remotely libertarian anymore. I just want to note again here though how classical right-libertarianism is the least libertarian of all positions that could be considered libertarian. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the worst (I'm actually a propertarian like that myself), just, if you think more liberty is better by default unless you can justify otherwise, then your default would be more socialist, and you need to justify claims to private property. "Why can't I just go live in any house I find and drive any car I find and eat any food I find?" is a question that needs answering, and a first-pass libertarian consideration would default to "sure go ahead" until it was answered.


We can go back over describing why consent is important and the chain that leads to property if you like. Liberty is desirable. It does not ever take priority over the NAP or self-ownership. Your idea of what is the "first pass" is incorrect.

This makes everything that follows very strange, and not very like libertarian ideology at all.

Pfhorrest wrote:The problem with that is that you cannot create any new duties, or grant any new permissions, including changing who has what rights over what, i.e. who owns what property. Not even if everyone involved agrees.


Why? This is weird. So long as you're not subjecting anyone to force, why can't you make an agreement by mutual assent? Of course you can. Contracts are literally this. You sign a contract whereby you give someone a dollar, and they'll give you a sack of potatoes at year's end, an agreement has been made. Before this point, you had no right to the potatoes. Now, you do.

Libertarians don't have any problem with the idea of personally obligating oneself. That follows from consent/self ownership. They have problems with the idea of non-consensually obligating a third party.

Pfhorrest wrote:. But I hold that this power to contact, without an exception to itself, can destroy a civilization just as much as the unlimited claim against assault of anarcho-pacifism can.


How?

We don't have any issue with someone deciding to be a pacifist. That is, ultimately, their call. I might think it's a wildly unwise call, but it's their life, and their decision. The same is true of their work habits, rental preferences, and so forth. So long as those relationships are consensual in nature, who cares?

Non-compete contracts, btw, rarely hold up at present. They're sort of a strange thing, but their applicability to contract law is pretty dubious. We can talk about particularly strange potential contracts, ala the hypothetical "can you sell yourself into slavery?" scenario, but in actual fact, I don't know of anyone who wants to sell themselves into slavery. If no market exists, it's kind of a moot point? One scenario that comes up as a result of consent/self determination is assisted suicide. That's something people sometimes express a desire to do that definitely impacts their ability to make future contracts. Pretty hard to agree to anything while dead. Libertarianism is explicitly for this freedom. It does not seem to destroy civilization.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:25 pm UTC

FYI, I added a third thing.

Requiring liability is necessary to make sure that people can't profit off of criminal activity and then get off because you can't prove they were aware of it. If you let a dog roam the neighborhood, you are legally liable for criminal negligence if they bite someone. You don't pay attention to what your employees do, and they engage in criminal activity where the plaintiff is not the company itself, you are legally liable for negligence. With great power comes great responsibility.

With absentee ownership, you can manage the property, but you can't just pay someone else to manage it for you and collect rent.

To pre-emptively clarify on my third point. If you are the only place in an hour's drive where you can buy food in a town, do you not have a responsibility to the town to make sure the food is healthy? If you are going to sell a product, you need to take responsibility for all of the external costs. You can't just pass them to consumers. "Consumer choice" and "buyer beware" are just not realistic.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:41 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you view "less laws" as always "more libertarian", then anarchy would be the most libertarian government.

Yeah, I kinda said exactly that. For most of history and in most of the world, "libertarian" meant "anarchist". This goes back to my earlier question of whether we're talking about the Libertarian Party of the United States, or libertarianism abstractly. Obviously, the platform of the Libertarian Party is not anarchist, but anarchism is still abstractly libertarian.

We can go back over describing why consent is important and the chain that leads to property if you like. Liberty is desirable. It does not ever take priority over the NAP or self-ownership. Your idea of what is the "first pass" is incorrect.

An absence of private property doesn't go against the non-aggression principle or self-ownership at all. I'm not talking about the government coming and taking all of your property, aggressively. I'm saying that claims to property are a separate thing in need of their own defense, apart from claims to non-aggression. That was the point of the parts you didn't quote: starting from maximal liberty, what are the steps necessary to get to your right-libertarian position? Just adding non-aggression and self-ownership doesn't get you there; that gets you to anarcho-socialism. Private property rights are something more on top of that.

Pfhorrest wrote:The problem with that is that you cannot create any new duties, or grant any new permissions, including changing who has what rights over what, i.e. who owns what property. Not even if everyone involved agrees.


Why? This is weird. So long as you're not subjecting anyone to force, why can't you make an agreement by mutual assent? Of course you can. Contracts are literally this.

I think you weren't following along with the exercise here. The "that" in my sentence you quoted is a hypothetical system of maximal immunity, no powers, including the power to contract, which was a step in the chain building up from scratch to get to right-libertarianism one piece at a time. The problem with that hypothetical system is that under such a system you would have no power to create duties, etc. So, to remedy that problem, we add in the power to contract, which gets us to right-libertarianism at last.

I was not saying that having the power to contract is a problem, but that its complete absence causes a problem.

Pfhorrest wrote:But I hold that this power to contact, without an exception to itself, can destroy a civilization just as much as the unlimited claim against assault of anarcho-pacifism can.

How?

The short version, because I'm on my way out the door, is there's nothing saying you can't sell yourself into slavery, which desperate people would do, which would eventually develop into a slave economy, not a free market. Note, again, because I'm not sure you're following along, that I'm not saying you or right-libertarians in general think it's okay to sell yourself into slavery, but that an unlimited power to contract would entail that you could. So there needs to be some limit to the power to contract. Which I think you agree with so far, we just disagree about where exactly the right limits to contracts go.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:43 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:I think if Libertarian-Capitalism is actually going to be functional, at least two things need to happen:

1) Limited liability corporations need to be eliminated. You want to say a corporation is a part of your body, then you are legally liable for all of its actions.


Why would this be important for a more libertarian economy?

A corporation isn't really "part of your body". It's just a convenient abstract entity. The point of an LLC is largely to allow people with less wealth access to the advantages of a corporation. From a libertarian perspective, that's good. We don't want rights gated behind thousands of dollars.

We also generally want to encourage further compartmentalization of risk. This is literally one of the main things separating us from feudalism. So, no, you shouldn't be jailing people for trying to start a business and not making it work. LLCs do not protect one from overt criminal actions...if you form an LLC, you can't go around murdering people. It just means that if you get sued because your startup idea happens to step on someone else's toes, you only lose the business, not your house, your car, your wife's car, and you definitely shouldn't go to jail. Debtor's prison is probably not something to bring back.


But LLC doesn't get rid of the risk, it just dumps it on the public. If your business does a billion dollars in damages, but only has assets of 100 million, that means that the public is on the hook for the remainder of the cost, even if the people who own the corporation actually have the assets to cover the damage. This means that the property rights of corporations and their shareholders are more valuable than those of the people that they harm... it's nonsense (especially if you're also insisting on a limited government that can neither provide oversight nor has the assets to actually cover the costs anyway).

If you want to retain the concept of LLC, then should function as insurance by the government. Corporations all pay into a fund based on their expected liabilities, so that if they go under, there's still money available to cover things like environmental damage, pension funds, that are otherwise lost.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:06 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:But LLC doesn't get rid of the risk, it just dumps it on the public. If your business does a billion dollars in damages, but only has assets of 100 million, that means that the public is on the hook for the remainder of the cost, even if the people who own the corporation actually have the assets to cover the damage.

If the business does a billion dollars in damages through negligence or malice, then that could easily rise to the level of a criminal offence (though admittedly that might be difficult to prove in many cases).

So, theoretically at least, we are mostly talking about unforeseen/unforeseeable damages here. Well, LLC are a perfect fit for this, because without some sort of legal cover many fewer people would risk starting a business. It would be mostly limited to those with preexisting deep pockets who could take the personal hit.

For industries where damages are unforeseeable but likely - let's say the pharmaceutical industry under libertarianism - I could easily see a mandate from government for the manufacturer to carry insurance. I don't think libertarianism proscribes regulation full stop - it's not anarchy - it just tries to limit it to the minimal practicable, and where at all possible carried out by the private sector. So mandating some industries carrying insurance seems like something most reasonable libertarians would permit.

Now, in theory, the insurance companies would play the role of the regulators here (making that redundant as a government function also): Before issuing insurance, they'd want to see all the trials the manufacturer did on their new drug including evidence of side-effects, and preferably carried out by a neutral, third-party agent who specialises in drug trials. None of this would be mandatory, but it would presumably factor into how much the original company got charged for their insurance - and failing to produce any sound evidence of due diligence would most likely result in no insurer being willing to touch them...

Then, presumably, the insurance companies would further dilute the risk by cross-insuring each other. So the public would only end up taking the hit if the entire industry went down. And, to be fair, you mostly allude to this kind of model in your final paragraph.

Now, I'm not a libertarian so I can see a number of risks and flaws in this arrangement (and, hence, maybe I'm just setting up a strawman here - though I've tried to be fair and put myself into a believer's shoes), but I don't think the concept of an LLC is at fault here; Indeed, I think it's a vital part of any modern functioning economy that wishes to have a low barrier to entry to newcomers.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:21 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:FYI, I added a third thing.

Requiring liability is necessary to make sure that people can't profit off of criminal activity and then get off because you can't prove they were aware of it. If you let a dog roam the neighborhood, you are legally liable for criminal negligence if they bite someone. You don't pay attention to what your employees do, and they engage in criminal activity where the plaintiff is not the company itself, you are legally liable for negligence. With great power comes great responsibility.


Requiring the owner be responsible for criminal behavior on the part of employees in all cases, even unknowing, would be injust. If they borrow the company car to use for a robbery, you are not morally responsible for the robbery. You didn't want it or know about it.

Now, if you're telling folks to do crimes, obviously you're responsible for that. That's already the case, though, and requires no change to LLCs.

With absentee ownership, you can manage the property, but you can't just pay someone else to manage it for you and collect rent.


Managing people is fine. You can definitely pay people to take care of things for you in a libertarian society. That's desirable.

To pre-emptively clarify on my third point. If you are the only place in an hour's drive where you can buy food in a town, do you not have a responsibility to the town to make sure the food is healthy? If you are going to sell a product, you need to take responsibility for all of the external costs. You can't just pass them to consumers. "Consumer choice" and "buyer beware" are just not realistic.


In the sense of "this food does not contain arsenic", yes you do. Safety, truth in advertising, these are fine. Nobody wants to buy the "pile o' arsenic special", so slipping that to customers is innately violating their rights. The sale must be consensual on both parts. If you are receiving something other than what was agreed upon, there's an obvious ethical problem.

You are not required to make a salad joint instead of a burger place. Make whichever you prefer. If someone wants to do a health-based restaurant, fine. If everyone there would rather eat burgers than healthy food, that's also fine.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you view "less laws" as always "more libertarian", then anarchy would be the most libertarian government.

Yeah, I kinda said exactly that. For most of history and in most of the world, "libertarian" meant "anarchist". This goes back to my earlier question of whether we're talking about the Libertarian Party of the United States, or libertarianism abstractly. Obviously, the platform of the Libertarian Party is not anarchist, but anarchism is still abstractly libertarian.


Anarchism and Libertarianism are related, but distinctly different ideologies. Anarchism tends to prioritize individual freedom over literally everything else. For Libertarians, it's pretty high, but it is subordinate to other principles.

If you view ideologies as a spectrum of prioritization of individual liberty, anarchism would be on one end, and libertarianism would be probably fairly close. But other ideologies would range along it as well. It's not an uncommon thing to value, but how it ranks compared to other values varies. However, anarchism is no more a subset of libertarianism than libertarians are a subset of democrats. Both sharing one value and giving it a different priority does not make one a subset of the other.

Pfhorrest wrote:An absence of private property doesn't go against the non-aggression principle or self-ownership at all. I'm not talking about the government coming and taking all of your property, aggressively. I'm saying that claims to property are a separate thing in need of their own defense, apart from claims to non-aggression. That was the point of the parts you didn't quote: starting from maximal liberty, what are the steps necessary to get to your right-libertarian position? Just adding non-aggression and self-ownership doesn't get you there; that gets you to anarcho-socialism. Private property rights are something more on top of that.


Ownership of property stems from the same ethical basis as ownership of self. The two are paired, and if you throw out the moral justification for one, you throw out the moral justification for the other. Libertarianism without property ownership is ideologically inconsistent.

Pfhorrest wrote:I think you weren't following along with the exercise here. The "that" in my sentence you quoted is a hypothetical system of maximal immunity, no powers, including the power to contract, which was a step in the chain building up from scratch to get to right-libertarianism one piece at a time. The problem with that hypothetical system is that under such a system you would have no power to create duties, etc. So, to remedy that problem, we add in the power to contract, which gets us to right-libertarianism at last.


You define maximal liberty as, by necessity, taking powers away. This is the part that is weird. It isn't consistent, and even anarchists would accept that people could voluntarily create duties. It's not only an assumption antithetical to libertarianism, it doesn't match the anarchy you're comparing to.

The short version, because I'm on my way out the door, is there's nothing saying you can't sell yourself into slavery, which desperate people would do, which would eventually develop into a slave economy, not a free market. Note, again, because I'm not sure you're following along, that I'm not saying you or right-libertarians in general think it's okay to sell yourself into slavery, but that an unlimited power to contract would entail that you could. So there needs to be some limit to the power to contract. Which I think you agree with so far, we just disagree about where exactly the right limits to contracts go.


It gets some hypothetical play in terms of a what-if.

I have some problems with it. In short, you can't *actually* negotiate away all future rights. Contracts generally must contain meaningful value for both parties to be valid. If one becomes a slave entirely, then everything you have is generally property of the owner as well, yes? Such a degree of slavery would by necessity be an exchange of value in only one direction.

Additionally, how would it be enforced? Libertarian ideology is big on recompense. Taking from the thief to give back to the victim is just. If someone sells themselves into slavery, then later decided, fuck this, and left, how would they recompense the owner for the lost time? Furthermore, how would it be enforced? Offloading all of the enforcement costs onto government would not be terribly libertarian*, and this has been the historical answer.

So, that particular scenario runs into some problems. However, if your objection is to making contracts that preclude future contracts in total, then someone purchasing assisted suicide services would qualify. Dying is a very strict inability to make future contracts, so a more final example cannot exist. Yet, a person ought to have such a choice.

*Also a big reason as to why libertarians are against debtor's prisons. That's generally either state enforcement, or private entities offloading enforcement costs to the state. Keeping people in jail isn't at all cheap, and if companies had to pay that cost themselves(and present it accurately when presenting terms), they wouldn't be thrilled about it. Expensive punitive actions are almost always the result of cronyism.

LaserGuy wrote:But LLC doesn't get rid of the risk, it just dumps it on the public. If your business does a billion dollars in damages, but only has assets of 100 million, that means that the public is on the hook for the remainder of the cost, even if the people who own the corporation actually have the assets to cover the damage. This means that the property rights of corporations and their shareholders are more valuable than those of the people that they harm... it's nonsense (especially if you're also insisting on a limited government that can neither provide oversight nor has the assets to actually cover the costs anyway).


So, you'd like to go after shareholders as well? How does that work with, say, mutual funds? Let's say that, oh, Google does something truly heinous, and cannot pay. How many people own Google stock? Well, there's some 600mil odd shares, but some own multiple shares. On the flip side, we have mutual funds, which have many investors, but own many stocks. It's a cinch that most mutual funds(roughly 55 mil investors) will have that. Pretty much any tech or growth fund. Google's held by somewhere north of 700 mutual funds. Exact numbers are literally impossible, as they buy and sell stock all the time. However, it is likely that more people, directly or indirectly, hold Google stock than there are citizens of the country.

It is not likely that Joe Blow, who invested his 401k into a mutual fund, holds any particular responsibility for the financial irresponsibility of the company that his mutual fund invested into. Emptying his retirement account is not particularly just.

Note that criminal offenses are prosecuted as normal. For limited liability, we're talking mostly about unpaid debts. Libertarianism accepts that some debts will not be paid. When making pretty much any contract, you ought to consider a worst case scenario, and debt inherently involves some risk. That's why it's profitable.

Libertarian ideology is not in favor of bailing out banks for making poor bets. If you're reaping the rewards, you ought to run the risk. It is also not in favor of a lot of government-run lending, so risks ought to be run by those who choose to accept them, not forced upon the public as a whole(which a required insurance schema would still do)

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:19 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, at this point I don't really see you as having good intentions for libertarianism. You really just don't seem to care at all about outcomes, and just want to be an apologist for capitalism. Literally, you default to the position that unless we can prove that it's worse for society, we should let people in power do whatever they want. That because you can think of a scenario where profits are a positive, you can completely dismiss everything negative.

I don't believe there is a single thing in this world, that you can't rationalize away or dismiss as "Well, the world isn't perfect" if you perceive it as benefiting you, nor do I think you make any attempt to see the world from the perspective of someone who isn't wealthy. You don't seem to place any value on people. Assume that the wealthy know best, and dismiss all other suffering as being necessary for the greater good.

Your views of economics are not in the least bit utilitarian; they're nihilistic, and based on economic theories that have completely failed to deliver in the real world. I don't think there is a single argument you will accept, because you have never examined the areas of the economies where the people are being failed, and just assume it's all the fault of things that are not capitalism while pointing out that America is on top without examining why.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:21 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:But LLC doesn't get rid of the risk, it just dumps it on the public. If your business does a billion dollars in damages, but only has assets of 100 million, that means that the public is on the hook for the remainder of the cost, even if the people who own the corporation actually have the assets to cover the damage. This means that the property rights of corporations and their shareholders are more valuable than those of the people that they harm... it's nonsense (especially if you're also insisting on a limited government that can neither provide oversight nor has the assets to actually cover the costs anyway).


It is not likely that Joe Blow, who invested his 401k into a mutual fund, holds any particular responsibility for the financial irresponsibility of the company that his mutual fund invested into. Emptying his retirement account is not particularly just.


He is a partial owner of the company, ergo, yes, he is partially responsible for any liabilities that the company accrues. If your property causes someone else harm, you are responsible for that. If he doesn't have a lot of stock in the company, then his out-of-pocket cost would be small, but it wouldn't be nothing.

(I'm pretty sure that 401ks wouldn't exist in a libertarian government anyway).

elasto wrote:So, theoretically at least, we are mostly talking about unforeseen/unforeseeable damages here. Well, LLC are a perfect fit for this, because without some sort of legal cover many fewer people would risk starting a business. It would be mostly limited to those with preexisting deep pockets who could take the personal hit.


Why should we care about whether it is easy or hard to start a business? Why is that more important than providing a mechanism for innocent third parties to get protection and compensation from maleficence by businesses?

Just as an example, in '84, a Summitville Consolidated Mining Company started a mining operation in Colorado. They mined there for 8 years, creating a huge volume of contaminated water, some of which made its way into local rivers. In '91, the company declared bankruptcy, leaving the government with the bill for $155 million dollars in environmental damages. Why shouldn't the government be able to recover that money from the people who owned the company? Why shouldn't individuals who suffered health problems or property damage resulting from this be able to get compensation from the people who owned the company?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Anarchism and Libertarianism are related, but distinctly different ideologies. Anarchism tends to prioritize individual freedom over literally everything else. For Libertarians, it's pretty high, but it is subordinate to other principles.

If you view ideologies as a spectrum of prioritization of individual liberty, anarchism would be on one end, and libertarianism would be probably fairly close. But other ideologies would range along it as well. It's not an uncommon thing to value, but how it ranks compared to other values varies. However, anarchism is no more a subset of libertarianism than libertarians are a subset of democrats. Both sharing one value and giving it a different priority does not make one a subset of the other.

In your first paragraph, you're capitalizing the L in Libertarianism, using it as a proper noun, like say the ideology of the Libertarian Party, or something similar, so everything you say is fine. But in your second, you're using it with a lower case l, in which case that's just false: all forms of anarchism are lowercase-l (common noun) libertarian, and most lowercase-l libertarian positions are anarchistic, with just a little bit along the edge (in the conceptual space of possible positions, not in the number of people who adhere to them) being okay with a small state.

Technically, all of the positions I discussed in that prior post, building up from maximal liberty to what I was calling "right-libertarianism", were still forms of anarchism. Even the "right-libertarianism" at the end was really just the groundwork for anarcho-capitalism, finally providing the contractual basis to build something like a state with. At no point in the construction did we add in any specifically statist power for anyone to command, or duty for anyone to obey.

Ownership of property stems from the same ethical basis as ownership of self. The two are paired, and if you throw out the moral justification for one, you throw out the moral justification for the other. Libertarianism without property ownership is ideologically inconsistent.

Were you really not following along in the constructive exercise at all? Starting from a "blank slate" of "everything is permitted", we added one obligation, along the lines of "don't act upon a person against their will", and then carved out a caveat "...unless you have to to stop them from doing so to you". We've made no mention so far of any kind of property other than people's own bodies, so so far, everyone is allowed to do anything they want to any other stuff in the universe, even if somebody else doesn't want them to do that to it. What is ideologically inconsistent about that scenario?

We then abstracted that right against people acting upon you to a right against people acting upon your things, where you are just one of your things, and that created property rights more generally. (Again: in this mental exercise of constructing a conceptual system of rights from the ground up). I think you're thinking of that kind of right when you say what I just quoted from you above, though it's worth noting that under such a conception, self-ownership is just a special application of property ownership generally, not the other way around. That is, if you have a concept of general property ownership, you pretty much have to get self-ownership with it; but you can have self-ownership without the broader concept of property ownership, which I just described again in the paragraph above.

Pfhorrest wrote:You define maximal liberty as, by necessity, taking powers away. This is the part that is weird. It isn't consistent, and even anarchists would accept that people could voluntarily create duties. It's not only an assumption antithetical to libertarianism, it doesn't match the anarchy you're comparing to.

I really think you're having trouble understanding what I'm doing here. I'm starting from a blank slate of all liberties and no powers -- which, yes, I know, is a position nobody holds, this is a thought experiment -- and then adding things to it one at a time to construct positions people actually hold, so as to show the relationships between these different positions, and illustrate the core claims they each have to justify. Specifically, to show that claims to property and power to contract are less libertarian -- small l, common noun -- than some systems without them, and need justification (if we're starting from an abstractly libertarian leaning that's skeptical by default of anything contrary to liberty), without which those more-libertarian (and simultaneously more-socialist) systems are our fallback.

Anyway, I don't see why you think "fewer powers == more liberty" is weird, or inconsistent. Yes, all liberty and no power is something not even any actual anarchists support, but I wasn't suggesting that it was. I'm just saying that if we start our thought process out as "being able to do what we want it good, and other people being able to tell us what we can or cannot do is bad", then the most naive initial application of that inclination is maximal liberty (nothing is obligatory or prohibited, everything is permitted) and minimal powers (nobody can change that, so nobody can create any obligations or prohibitions). Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will immediately see that there are problems with that and start making exceptions to get a more nuanced position, of course, but that's why I didn't stop there, and added those nuances one by one to get to various positions people actually hold. But each little nuance requires justification, if our initial leaning is pro-liberty, anti-power.

Contracts generally must contain meaningful value for both parties to be valid.

Which is a limit on the power to contract. As I said, we agree that there should be some limits, just not on what they should be. I was raising a problem with a hypothetical unlimited power to contract, to illustrate why limits are needed.

Additionally, how would it be enforced? Libertarian ideology is big on recompense. Taking from the thief to give back to the victim is just. If someone sells themselves into slavery, then later decided, fuck this, and left, how would they recompense the owner for the lost time?

If a slavery contract was valid, the recompense would be to return the slave to his owner, of course. If it's not valid, then the slave is free to walk away and no recompense is needed for "the lost time" because the "slave"'s time didn't actually belong to his "owner" in the first place. I guess the "owner" is owed back whatever he paid, because he didn't actually get what he paid for, because the seller didn't have the power to give it to him, because the power to contract has limits. (Just like if I sold you the Brooklyn Bridge. You gave me money, and maybe you got to use the bridge some, but you didn't actually get ownership of the bridge, because I didn't actually have the power to sell it to you, so you've been scammed and deserve your money back).

So, that particular scenario runs into some problems. However, if your objection is to making contracts that preclude future contracts in total, then someone purchasing assisted suicide services would qualify. Dying is a very strict inability to make future contracts, so a more final example cannot exist. Yet, a person ought to have such a choice.

You're mixing up the practical ability to make a contract and the legal right to do so. I'm only concerned with the latter. If contracts that limited your practical ability to enter into any other contracts were invalid, then taking a job in Antarctica would be invalid because there's a hell of a lot of potential contracts you will be unable to enter into while you are out of communication at the bottom of the world. But that's not the kind of thing we're talking about. We're talking about creating legal obligations to (or not to) take on other legal obligations. That's what should be invalid.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:57 pm UTC

Another thought: if you are paying people a premium for risk, are you not just encouraging more bubbles? If people can invest in 10 different companies in a new industry, knowing at least one or two will be dominant and your expected returns will be positive, then they can act in a way in which there is no risk to them even though their actions necessarily create a bubble that will necessarily burst. Paying people a premium for risk is just as likely to lead to economic instability as it is to lead to growth.

Coordinating your resources better so you don't have umpteen businesses entering a market where only a few can survive, and then investing the rest of the money in other new investments that are much more likely to benefit the overall economy (which, the more equal the wealth is, the more incentive there is for this) is more likely to lead to productive results. Yes, I know, any economic crash is really a good thing because creative destruction.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:44 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Tyndmyr, at this point I don't really see you as having good intentions for libertarianism. You really just don't seem to care at all about outcomes, and just want to be an apologist for capitalism. Literally, you default to the position that unless we can prove that it's worse for society, we should let people in power do whatever they want. That because you can think of a scenario where profits are a positive, you can completely dismiss everything negative.


We should let *everyone* do whatever they want, unless that forces something unwanted on someone else.

This isn't a matter of power, money, or profit. It's simply what liberty is.

Profits are positive in the same way that wages are positive. A profit is to the professional investor what a wage is to anyone else. Just, yknow, much less reliable. Given that I want folks to invest, I want investment to be profitable.

I don't believe there is a single thing in this world, that you can't rationalize away or dismiss as "Well, the world isn't perfect" if you perceive it as benefiting you, nor do I think you make any attempt to see the world from the perspective of someone who isn't wealthy. You don't seem to place any value on people. Assume that the wealthy know best, and dismiss all other suffering as being necessary for the greater good.


I'm not sure what part of the conversation you're talking about. Being wealthy is not an intrinsic identifier of wisdom.

However, in a properly functioning economic system, people should become wealthy as a result of making good decisions and building a better world. Observing that this is not always true in today's world is...trivial. The current economic system is imperfect. This isn't a libertarian specific ideal. I find that libertarianism and socialism are often in agreement on the problems introduced by cronyism, but we use different terms to describe this problem. Socialist worldviews often pair that with "capitalism", where libertarians perspectives tend to use capitalism to describe competitive markets, and cronyism to describe, well, non-markets where market decisions don't really apply, and often have been avoided or shut out using legal means.

Your views of economics are not in the least bit utilitarian; they're nihilistic, and based on economic theories that have completely failed to deliver in the real world. I don't think there is a single argument you will accept, because you have never examined the areas of the economies where the people are being failed, and just assume it's all the fault of things that are not capitalism while pointing out that America is on top without examining why.


They're based on fairly standard economics, which are presented here in a fairly simple version. If you'd like, we can talk about how inflation related to money supply differently based on what type of money it is...specifically, why M0 is particularly bad to bulk print...but I think that would get off in the weeds, and might get away from the philosophical aspects of the conversation.

LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:But LLC doesn't get rid of the risk, it just dumps it on the public. If your business does a billion dollars in damages, but only has assets of 100 million, that means that the public is on the hook for the remainder of the cost, even if the people who own the corporation actually have the assets to cover the damage. This means that the property rights of corporations and their shareholders are more valuable than those of the people that they harm... it's nonsense (especially if you're also insisting on a limited government that can neither provide oversight nor has the assets to actually cover the costs anyway).


It is not likely that Joe Blow, who invested his 401k into a mutual fund, holds any particular responsibility for the financial irresponsibility of the company that his mutual fund invested into. Emptying his retirement account is not particularly just.


He is a partial owner of the company, ergo, yes, he is partially responsible for any liabilities that the company accrues. If your property causes someone else harm, you are responsible for that. If he doesn't have a lot of stock in the company, then his out-of-pocket cost would be small, but it wouldn't be nothing.

(I'm pretty sure that 401ks wouldn't exist in a libertarian government anyway).


What's the virtue in punishing him, though? His personal responsibility is pretty minimal. Is justice being served here? If so, how? The unrepaid debt of the failed company is not, in a libertarian system, to society. Society isn't really treated as an economic entity in that fashion. We do have the government, but the government also shouldn't usually be making loans in this fashion. When a business goes bankrupt, largely it's unpaid obligations are to the bank or investors it borrowed from.

What's wrong with a 401k? Or any investment account, really. We'd probably simplify the tax code, sure, but saving for retirement is not likely something that would change under libertarianism. After all, libertarians are not super big on huge social safety nets. So, retirement planning ends up being fairly important.

LaserGuy wrote:Why should we care about whether it is easy or hard to start a business? Why is that more important than providing a mechanism for innocent third parties to get protection and compensation from maleficence by businesses?


You should care because if it is hard to start a business, then fewer people will do so. Basic incentives at play. The market will have fewer participants, lower turnover, and generally be less competitive. Thus, it will be slower to adapt, consumers will have less choice, and upward wealth mobility is hampered. Economically speaking, these are all obviously bad.

Innocent third parties can get protection and compensation from maleficence. Criminal acts fall under criminal law, and just because you have an LLC doesn't make you immune to criminal law. Even negligence may cause the veil to be pierced, sometimes, depending on the extent of it. When we talk of LLC's protection, we are talking about non-criminal debts. Individuals have similar abilities with regards to bankruptcy. When you do that, some debt often goes unpaid. This is an inherent risk in all debt.

LaserGuy wrote:Just as an example, in '84, a Summitville Consolidated Mining Company started a mining operation in Colorado. They mined there for 8 years, creating a huge volume of contaminated water, some of which made its way into local rivers. In '91, the company declared bankruptcy, leaving the government with the bill for $155 million dollars in environmental damages. Why shouldn't the government be able to recover that money from the people who owned the company? Why shouldn't individuals who suffered health problems or property damage resulting from this be able to get compensation from the people who owned the company?


Which stockholders are you going to recoup the money from? The ones who owned it when the company went bankrupt? When the problem started? Where does culpability lie?

If you wait many years for economic redress, and the company has failed in the meantime, collecting damages is going to be more difficult. This is particularly true if your community has allowed a vast amount of damages to accrue. If damages vastly exceed the company's assets available, you cannot collect on that. In some respects, this would be eased under a libertarian system, since the individual focus would make it somewhat easier for an individual to seek damages independently, but there is still an inherent issue that if damages are not sought promptly, there is a risk they may become uncollectable. This isn't in any way specific to libertarianism.

You can't fix that by assigning the cost to people who were not responsible for the decisions made. All that does is, like with the redistribution, change who the victim is.

Pfhorrest wrote:In your first paragraph, you're capitalizing the L in Libertarianism, using it as a proper noun, like say the ideology of the Libertarian Party, or something similar, so everything you say is fine. But in your second, you're using it with a lower case l, in which case that's just false: all forms of anarchism are lowercase-l (common noun) libertarian, and most lowercase-l libertarian positions are anarchistic, with just a little bit along the edge (in the conceptual space of possible positions, not in the number of people who adhere to them) being okay with a small state.


Apologies for being sloppy with the labeling. I've *mostly* been talking about the ideology, not the party specifically, and it should generally be clear in context which is which. However in this case, I definitely mean the ideology. The ideology of libertarianism, while a cousin to anarchy both historically and philosophically, is not part of it. Neither is the converse true.

A purely anarchistic state does not uphold rights. Someone with more force could abrogate another's rights. This is an innate conflict between anarchy and libertarianism. There might be some people who believe that, somehow, this will not happen, but the historical evidence for that is...pretty rough. Might makes right has been used a great deal in the past. In any case, libertarians believe that the government does have valid roles. Fewer than is commonly claimed at present, but not none. All political systems disagree to some extent about which roles government ought to serve, and save for anarchy, none of them are anarchy.

Pfhorrest wrote:Technically, all of the positions I discussed in that prior post, building up from maximal liberty to what I was calling "right-libertarianism", were still forms of anarchism. Even the "right-libertarianism" at the end was really just the groundwork for anarcho-capitalism, finally providing the contractual basis to build something like a state with. At no point in the construction did we add in any specifically statist power for anyone to command, or duty for anyone to obey.


Yup, those are all anarchistic ideals.

There is a pragmatic quasi-alliance between libertarians and anarchists in the US political scene, with the understanding that the practical changes we both want pull in the same general direction. This does not imply that the ideology is the same. Were the anarchists and the libertarians somehow as popular as the big two parties, and republicans and democrats as niche as third parties nowadays, a roughly similar amount of political disagreement would exist.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Ownership of property stems from the same ethical basis as ownership of self. The two are paired, and if you throw out the moral justification for one, you throw out the moral justification for the other. Libertarianism without property ownership is ideologically inconsistent.

Were you really not following along in the constructive exercise at all? Starting from a "blank slate" of "everything is permitted", we added one obligation, along the lines of "don't act upon a person against their will", and then carved out a caveat "...unless you have to to stop them from doing so to you". We've made no mention so far of any kind of property other than people's own bodies, so so far, everyone is allowed to do anything they want to any other stuff in the universe, even if somebody else doesn't want them to do that to it. What is ideologically inconsistent about that scenario?


It's ideologically consistent, but it's not libertarianism. Not all ideologically consistent systems are interchangeable.

You've placed the wrong thing as your highest order value, and as a result, derived the wrong system. If I said that the highest moral of socialism was "ecological preservation", I would similarly derive a very strange impression of what socialism is. That's something that socialists value, but it's not the most critical thing about socialism.

Pfhorrest wrote:That is, if you have a concept of general property ownership, you pretty much have to get self-ownership with it; but you can have self-ownership without the broader concept of property ownership, which I just described again in the paragraph above.


Not justified in the way libertarians rely upon. If you eat a burger, that burger becomes part of you, yes? At some point, the burger becomes owned by you. The rest follows as already described.

You can use a different philosophy if you like, but if you do, it's not particularly libertarian. You've missed a particularly fundamental element. You are using the term "libertarian" to mean merely "less restriction". That is something that libertarians like, but it would be like describing socialists as protestors.

I don't object to you tossing up a hypothetical scenario, I object to the language you're using.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Contracts generally must contain meaningful value for both parties to be valid.

Which is a limit on the power to contract. As I said, we agree that there should be some limits, just not on what they should be. I was raising a problem with a hypothetical unlimited power to contract, to illustrate why limits are needed.


There are a few limits, mostly imposed by reality, and by the necessity for agreement on both parties. If you manage to figure out a clever way to get around limitations imposed by reality in a reasonable fashion, excellent. That doesn't pose any obstacle. It is the agreement that is fundamental.

All ideologies, to some degree, have limitations like this. However, in the case of contracts, it's pretty minor. We can and do use both formal and informal contracts all of the time in the real world, and they generally work well. I do not have any problem in theory with a contract specifying some degree of limitation. A non disclosure agreement, for instance, is a real world example of this. There is no ethical problem inherent to one of those. If you do not wish to be bound by one, don't sign.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Additionally, how would it be enforced? Libertarian ideology is big on recompense. Taking from the thief to give back to the victim is just. If someone sells themselves into slavery, then later decided, fuck this, and left, how would they recompense the owner for the lost time?

If a slavery contract was valid, the recompense would be to return the slave to his owner, of course. If it's not valid, then the slave is free to walk away and no recompense is needed for "the lost time" because the "slave"'s time didn't actually belong to his "owner" in the first place. I guess the "owner" is owed back whatever he paid, because he didn't actually get what he paid for, because the seller didn't have the power to give it to him, because the power to contract has limits. (Just like if I sold you the Brooklyn Bridge. You gave me money, and maybe you got to use the bridge some, but you didn't actually get ownership of the bridge, because I didn't actually have the power to sell it to you, so you've been scammed and deserve your money back).


But if the slave is the seller, you see how no recompense can be made if we treat slavery as valid. After all, we're starting from a premise that everyone owns themselves. If you sell yourself into slavery, then you have given over your future time to the buyer. If you then use that time for other things, that time cannot be returned. Ultimately, control of your body always remains in your hands, and cannot actually be transferred, barring perhaps some kind of strange sci fi development. Or death, I suppose. Nobody seems to have a problem with giving one's body to science after death. After consciousness has departed, no conflict exists. From that perspective, one could say that slavery is not something one *can* properly sell. You can sell your work, but it is always possible you will change your mind later and cease working.

As far as selling bridges goes, this is not a special limit. It's merely a standard case of property rights intersecting with required consent. If the bridge owner agrees, you can totally sell his bridge for him. That's what a realtor does. If you are attempting to 'sell' something without agreement, you are obviously violating basic libertarian principles right off. This isn't specific to contracts, it's part of all human interaction. The agreement has to be between all involved parties, not merely some of them.

Pfhorrest wrote:You're mixing up the practical ability to make a contract and the legal right to do so. I'm only concerned with the latter. If contracts that limited your practical ability to enter into any other contracts were invalid, then taking a job in Antarctica would be invalid because there's a hell of a lot of potential contracts you will be unable to enter into while you are out of communication at the bottom of the world. But that's not the kind of thing we're talking about. We're talking about creating legal obligations to (or not to) take on other legal obligations. That's what should be invalid.


So, things like NDAs you dislike? I don't think libertarians have any particular problem with their existence.

Many wouldn't care to sign, say, non-compete agreements, but they don't believe that they are immoral for those who want to sign them.

Thesh wrote:Another thought: if you are paying people a premium for risk, are you not just encouraging more bubbles? If people can invest in 10 different companies in a new industry, knowing at least one or two will be dominant and your expected returns will be positive, then they can act in a way in which there is no risk to them even though their actions necessarily create a bubble that will necessarily burst. Paying people a premium for risk is just as likely to lead to economic instability as it is to lead to growth.


No. Not paying premiums for risk encourages bubbles. See also, the housing bubble. The risk was there, but folks discounted it's existence, and began acting as if it wasn't. This went poorly.

Hedging bets is a valid strategy. It is not absolutely guaranteed to work, as it is possible that no option you choose will be successful. Perhaps the industry as a whole will not be nearly so hot as you thought. Risk remains. It is lower, but you will also make less money relative to your initial investment, because you invested in many more companies. It's the difference between betting on black at the roulette table and betting on a single number. Risk/reward exists in either case, you've just traded off between the two.

For true diversification from an investment point of view, you often want to make your bets as independent as possible. If all of your investments can be affected by the same thing, you haven't gotten all the risk hedging out of diversification you can. So, it's generally advisable to select a decent range of widely separated industries or markets if your goal is to maximize diversification. If you choose to buy a range of options available within an industry, you are essentially betting on that industry as a whole. It's a valid option, it's just less diversified. Many mutual funds do something like this, focusing on a specific area, sector, or investment style. For instance, I've been heavily invested in trans-pacific growth funds for some time, and those have worked out pretty well.

Thesh wrote:Coordinating your resources better so you don't have umpteen businesses entering a market where only a few can survive, and then investing the rest of the money in other new investments that are much more likely to benefit the overall economy (which, the more equal the wealth is, the more incentive there is for this) is more likely to lead to productive results. Yes, I know, any economic crash is really a good thing because creative destruction.


That's the part of socialist ideology that gets described as "picking winners". Libertarians are against it on the basis that people are remarkably bad at it.

Economic crashes are definitely not a good thing. Libertarianism acknowledges that a degree of variability inherently exists in markets and economies, and you can't actually get rid of that without destroying them(much the same as with people). However, desiring a crash isn't part of the ideology. You may sometimes see people hoping for a crash with the idea that this'll somehow show that the current, non libertarian system is broken. Not unlike republicans hoping to see the economy crater when a democrat will catch the blame. This, however, is nothing like thinking crashes are good.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:17 pm UTC

If a decision is dictated, it's freedom. If it's arrived at democratically, it's tyranny. You are completely incapable of viewing economics from any other perspective than that of the property owner.

It's like your entire view of economics is that unless someone can use power over others to gain money at their expense, there is no way to fund anything. The whole concept of people working together in their own best interest just completely alludes you. Your default assumption is just that they will spend their money wrong, and that only rich people are capable of spending it properly.

How are you not just someone who is completely cynical about humanity, and has just said "Fuck it, I deserve whatever I can take!"?
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:28 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What's the virtue in punishing him, though? His personal responsibility is pretty minimal. Is justice being served here? If so, how?


His costs can scale as per his interest in the company. This is not a problem. The problem is pretending he doesn't have responsibility at all for his property when it damages someone or something else. This makes no sense from a libertarian perspective.

The unrepaid debt of the failed company is not, in a libertarian system, to society. Society isn't really treated as an economic entity in that fashion. We do have the government, but the government also shouldn't usually be making loans in this fashion. When a business goes bankrupt, largely it's unpaid obligations are to the bank or investors it borrowed from.


I'm not talking about "society"; I'm talking about specific people or property who have been directly harmed. Pick your disaster. What if BP didn't have 40+ billion dollars in assets to cover the cost of the Deepwater Horizon spill and just went bankrupt to avoid having to pay those costs (which is probably still a gross underestimate of the actual costs)? What happens if Purdue goes broke before it can settle all of the many lawsuits brought against due to Oxycontin? All of the people who have been harmed by these companies are just out of luck?

What's wrong with a 401k? Or any investment account, really. We'd probably simplify the tax code, sure, but saving for retirement is not likely something that would change under libertarianism. After all, libertarians are not super big on huge social safety nets. So, retirement planning ends up being fairly important.


It just probably wouldn't exist. Government isn't responsible for helping you with your retirement. That's your problem.

You should care because if it is hard to start a business, then fewer people will do so. Basic incentives at play. The market will have fewer participants, lower turnover, and generally be less competitive. Thus, it will be slower to adapt, consumers will have less choice, and upward wealth mobility is hampered. Economically speaking, these are all obviously bad.


Yes, but this is what a free market actually looks like. Limited liability is government interference in the market to make it easier to make risky investments.

LaserGuy wrote:Just as an example, in '84, a Summitville Consolidated Mining Company started a mining operation in Colorado. They mined there for 8 years, creating a huge volume of contaminated water, some of which made its way into local rivers. In '91, the company declared bankruptcy, leaving the government with the bill for $155 million dollars in environmental damages. Why shouldn't the government be able to recover that money from the people who owned the company? Why shouldn't individuals who suffered health problems or property damage resulting from this be able to get compensation from the people who owned the company?


Which stockholders are you going to recoup the money from? The ones who owned it when the company went bankrupt? When the problem started? Where does culpability lie?


Probably the simplest would be at the time of bankruptcy, though it likely wouldn't matter much since the liabilities of the company would be accounted for in the stock price in real time. People would demand to have this information up front before they would consider putting money into the company.

If you wait many years for economic redress, and the company has failed in the meantime, collecting damages is going to be more difficult.


The timescale for this particular incident is only 8 years, which is fairly short as far as such things goes.

You can't fix that by assigning the cost to people who were not responsible for the decisions made. All that does is, like with the redistribution, change who the victim is.


If you are an owner, you are responsible for your property, including any companies you own in whole or in part. Not that complicated. What it means, importantly, is that investors have skin in the game when it comes to the companies they invest in, and are going to make sure that the companies they own behave in a responsible manner. This is a feature, not a bug. It doesn't change who the victim is; it makes sure that victims are properly compensated by the people who harmed them.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:34 pm UTC

I think the assumption is that because the free market is the aggregate of consumer preferences, ultimately it's the consumers who made the decisions and so they should be liable.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby sardia » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:12 pm UTC

Is it always bad if the public pays when a business takes too much risk and fails? You could pair it with a strong regulatory system. That should reduce the worst incidences and limit losses to the public as a whole.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:17 pm UTC

It's more a question of whether the public has a choice in the matter.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:You can use a different philosophy if you like, but if you do, it's not particularly libertarian. You've missed a particularly fundamental element. You are using the term "libertarian" to mean merely "less restriction". That is something that libertarians like, but it would be like describing socialists as protestors.

I don't object to you tossing up a hypothetical scenario, I object to the language you're using.

And I object to the language you're using, which is part of why I'm discussing these hypothetical scenarios.

I get that the thing that you in particular want to talk about in this thread is your particular conception of what libertarianism is, which I know is not a viewpoint peculiar to you, it's a viewpoint held by a lot of Americans and labelled by them with that word. What I'm doing is pointing out that there is a much broader spectrums of viewpoints that are and have been also labelled with that word, both in other places at present and everywhere historically; and that that labelling is sensible, because those viewpoints, along with yours, all place a very strong emphasis on liberty. (Which, yes, means less restriction: to reiterate the technical deontic logic stuff I already explained, liberty consists of permission, which is the negation of prohibition, which you might also call "restriction". You are free, libre, to exactly the extent that you are not prohibited or restricted.) In fact, most of them, as you note, place an even stronger emphasis on liberty than your brand of libertarianism, which was a large part of my point.

TL;DR: "libertarianism" is a broader spectrum of viewpoints than you take it to be, and most of those viewpoints are more libertarian, more in favor of liberty, than your viewpoint.

To modify your "misunderstanding of socialism" example for comparison, defining socialism are ecological concern would be senseless because there's no good reason the word would mean that. But defining socialism as something like "concern for the equal economic wellbeing of all people in a society" (just pulled that out of my ass, don't put too much weight in it) would make some sense, and would be a broader sense than "desire to use a powerful central state to forcibly redistribute economic wealth throughout society". So if I was talking to a socialist who thought that the only socialism was state socialism, I would be eager to point out to them that there is in fact a very broad spectrum of opinions rightfully called "socialism", many of which are actively against the state. Just like I'm pointing out to you that there's is a very broad spectrum of opinions rightfully called "libertarianism", most of which are actively against capitalism.
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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:08 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:And I object to the language you're using, which is part of why I'm discussing these hypothetical scenarios.

I get that the thing that you in particular want to talk about in this thread is your particular conception of what libertarianism is, which I know is not a viewpoint peculiar to you, it's a viewpoint held by a lot of Americans and labelled by them with that word. What I'm doing is pointing out that there is a much broader spectrums of viewpoints that are and have been also labelled with that word, both in other places at present and everywhere historically; and that that labelling is sensible, because those viewpoints, along with yours, all place a very strong emphasis on liberty. (Which, yes, means less restriction: to reiterate the technical deontic logic stuff I already explained, liberty consists of permission, which is the negation of prohibition, which you might also call "restriction". You are free, libre, to exactly the extent that you are not prohibited or restricted.) In fact, most of them, as you note, place an even stronger emphasis on liberty than your brand of libertarianism, which was a large part of my point.

TL;DR: "libertarianism" is a broader spectrum of viewpoints than you take it to be, and most of those viewpoints are more libertarian, more in favor of liberty, than your viewpoint.


That is, again, defining libertarian solely on the basis of liberty(using a very particular definition of it). This is akin to defining Democrats by voter participation rate. Yes, voting is important to them, and it is a bit connected with the name, but it isn't the only defining feature.

Sometimes, unusual viewpoints that cross gaps get multiple labels associated to clear things up. Describing a person or party as a "Social Democrat" carries different connotations than merely saying they're a Democrat. It's not unrelated, but important distinctions can exist even between fairly closely related movements.

To modify your "misunderstanding of socialism" example for comparison, defining socialism are ecological concern would be senseless because there's no good reason the word would mean that. But defining socialism as something like "concern for the equal economic wellbeing of all people in a society" (just pulled that out of my ass, don't put too much weight in it) would make some sense, and would be a broader sense than "desire to use a powerful central state to forcibly redistribute economic wealth throughout society". So if I was talking to a socialist who thought that the only socialism was state socialism, I would be eager to point out to them that there is in fact a very broad spectrum of opinions rightfully called "socialism", many of which are actively against the state. Just like I'm pointing out to you that there's is a very broad spectrum of opinions rightfully called "libertarianism", most of which are actively against capitalism.


Yes, the word socialism does have a root word of society. And yet, not every political theory concerned with society is socialism. So too with libertarianism. Pretty much every political philosophy has to grapple with society and freedoms to some extent, but classifying them merely on that would be simplistic. Redistribution is not derived from the name, but is very significant to socialism. So too, economic equality. Merely relying on the root word of the name isn't great at describing political philosophy.

Hell, I would point out that other things frequently called socialism, such as the nordic model, are also using the term rather broadly. There are important distinctions between say, Norway's governing philosophy, and the historical USSR's. Referring to them as the same ideology is something you do if you're aiming to put it down, use the term as a generic pejorative, or otherwise not actually engage with their beliefs.

The "anti-capitalist libertarian" is called left-libertarian. It's kind of on the far side of anarchy, if you view the political line as a circle, wrapping all the way around from right wing to left. Not a perfect analogy, but close enough. It differs quite significantly with regards to ideology as well as which thinkers it tends to respect. Libertarian Socialism is a good word as well, though it is properly more socialist than it is libertarian. This might be more compatible with, say, Thesh's viewpoints. I think both he and I will agree that there is a very significant difference between that and libertarianism.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:21 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Is it always bad if the public pays when a business takes too much risk and fails? You could pair it with a strong regulatory system. That should reduce the worst incidences and limit losses to the public as a whole.


Sure, regulation is a plausible solution to this, but then you wouldn't be looking at a libertarian system anymore.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:25 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Just as an example, in '84, a Summitville Consolidated Mining Company started a mining operation in Colorado. They mined there for 8 years, creating a huge volume of contaminated water, some of which made its way into local rivers. In '91, the company declared bankruptcy, leaving the government with the bill for $155 million dollars in environmental damages. Why shouldn't the government be able to recover that money from the people who owned the company? Why shouldn't individuals who suffered health problems or property damage resulting from this be able to get compensation from the people who owned the company?

From my non-libertarian perspective, what went wrong there was a failure of external monitoring and regulation. Companies should not be able to knowingly or unknowingly spend years polluting public land without someone noticing something. (And if it was done knowingly, laws might well have been broken.)

Catch it in time and something can be done about it. Catch it years later and, really, all options are bad. Even if the company still exists, there might be noone working for it who played any part in the decision-making, so in a very real sense you are still punishing the innocent.

Killing the concept of LLCs to try to prevent something like that is cutting off your nose to spite your face, economically speaking. Only the already rich will create new startups, meaning industries will tend towards monopoly with all the complacency and exploitation that entails. Basically a disaster for consumers across the board.

But, I agree though; IMO scenarios like that become much more likely in a libertarian society, and are a big reason why I think a well-regulated free market beats a self-regulated one.

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Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:34 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That is, again, defining libertarian solely on the basis of liberty(using a very particular definition of it). This is akin to defining Democrats by voter participation rate. Yes, voting is important to them, and it is a bit connected with the name, but it isn't the only defining feature.

Again you seem to be unclear on whether you want to talk about a common noun generally or the platform of a particular political party. A Democratic viewpoint is a different thing from a democratic viewpoint: the former is a viewpoint associated with the party called "Democrats", while the latter is a viewpoint associated with democracy. Likewise, a Libertarian viewpoint is different from a libertarian viewpoint: the former is a viewpoint associated with the party called "Libertarians", while the latter is a viewpoint associated with liberty.

You said (I think, maybe I misunderstood) that you wanted to discuss the latter, but then you seem to keep restricting things to discussion of the former.

(Also, how is liberty = freedom = permission = non-prohibition = non-restriction etc "very peculiar"? Advocating for unlimited liberty would be peculiar, sure, but not understanding what liberty is like that).

The "anti-capitalist libertarian" is called left-libertarian. It's kind of on the far side of anarchy, if you view the political line as a circle, wrapping all the way around from right wing to left. Not a perfect analogy, but close enough. It differs quite significantly with regards to ideology as well as which thinkers it tends to respect. Libertarian Socialism is a good word as well, though it is properly more socialist than it is libertarian. This might be more compatible with, say, Thesh's viewpoints. I think both he and I will agree that there is a very significant difference between that and libertarianism.

Yeah, I've used the terms left-libertarian and libertarian socialist both in this thread, and I use both of them to describe myself, as I think does Thesh, though they're probably more in the mainstream of them than me (because I am, unlike most of them, still propertarian, despite being anti-capitalist).

On a different note I'm not quite following your description of where you think left-libertarianism and (what kind of?) anarchism are on a circular political spectrum (I get the spectrum shape just fine, just not where you're putting things on it), but this is as good an opportunity as any to drop my own view of the political spectrum, and where various kinds of libertarianism and socialism fall on it:

Image

I'd say that anything in the top 50-75% of the chart could rightly be called "libertarian" to some degree, and likewise anywhere in the left 50-75% of the chart "socialist" to some degree.
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