A small, specific question about libertarianism

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sam_i_am
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby sam_i_am » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:08 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:In terms of useful things, I wouldn't mind seeing something which makes some of the divisions we are experiencing less painful. I think that large cities should have greater representation at both the state and federal level. Our government is beset with a government stuck with an agrarian tradition in an age where cities are the dominant human endeavor. The Libertarian ideal would be of a state as the servitor of the individual, whereas I see the state as the servitor of the group.

China's one child policy is not possible in a country which is moderately free.

Sales taxes aren't fair. At least that is the position that I currently hold. I'm open on it if you can convince me that with great wealth whatever good it does, is not self perpetuating and doesn't attempt to sell tax plans which unburden them at the expense of someone else. If the wealthy pay more it is because they benefit more from from the society they exist in. There are only to types of consumption that I'm interested in, things that we need and things that we want. Since by any metric that I am aware of, any given person has the same needs, the difference lies in what we want. Since you can't assure that the wealthy will buy in their taxing state, since inherently they are extremely mobile, and since the less wealthy have no such ability, it seems to place a greater burden on those with less income.



Are you suggesting that when a wealthy person spends money on food, or other goods, that they will travel outside the nation in order to avoid taxes?

And as far as sales taxes go, In many states, non-necessaries (such as soda) are taxed at a greater rate than what are considered necessities(like bread)

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Azrael » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:04 pm UTC

sam_i_am wrote:And as far as sales taxes go, In many states, non-necessaries (such as soda) are taxed at a greater rate than what are considered necessities(like bread)

Do you have a reference on that? Because I'm not aware of any broad acceptance of boosted soda taxes.

Yes, sales taxes usually avoid food (with or without having to be purchased at a grocery store), but sodas carries that exemption.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby sam_i_am » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:37 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
sam_i_am wrote:And as far as sales taxes go, In many states, non-necessaries (such as soda) are taxed at a greater rate than what are considered necessities(like bread)

Do you have a reference on that? Because I'm not aware of any broad acceptance of boosted soda taxes.

Yes, sales taxes usually avoid food (with or without having to be purchased at a grocery store), but sodas carries that exemption.


These are just the instances I know of off Hand. And for the sake of minimal rigor, I found references for them too.

Minnesota taxes on soda and chips

Ontario tax incentives for buying non-soda


And Soda was only the specific example that I knew. The heart of the matter is that Necessities need not be taxed the same as non-necessities.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:55 pm UTC

No, I'm stating that the wealthy spend as much for food as anyone else, however that implies that as a proportion of income that means that their outlays will be less. It doesn't matter if or where they buy anything. Any one person can consume only so much. And that race favors the wealthy. They may buy multiple properties, have multiple cars or whatever. But as a proportion of total income they will always spend less of their money on sales taxes than you would. I don't require that you believe that, but it is an article of faith for me. I would be happy to get with any sane tax structure. The only thing wrong with our present tax structure is that it tries to buy everybody who politicians need to get elected. Public financing of elections could fix a lot of that.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby omgryebread » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:15 am UTC

Sales taxes are incredibly unfair (for certain values of fair) and regressive.

Mississippi has a sales tax of 7%, this applies to groceries. Mitt Romney doesn't live in Mississippi, but let's pretend (I would use Gary Johnson, but I can't find any information on his income. It's much less than Mitt Romney, much more than average. This is a bit unfair, since Johnson wants to eliminate the income tax, and is a libertarian, while Mitt Romney does not and is not.) According to University of Washington Researchers a healthy 2000 calorie diet costs $36.32 a day in Seattle. We'll round that down to $30 because food is cheaper in Mississippi.

Mittens made $20,900,000 in 2011. According to the Social Security Administration, the average US salary in 2011 was 41,673.83, which we'll round to $42,000 (Mississippi's average is probably lower, but 30 dollars is probably still high for their food costs, so we'll call this even.) An average US salary earner needs the same caloric intake as Romney, and has the same health requirements. We'll call a healthy diet a requirement, even though most people probably don't eat an optimal diet, because I think a healthy diet is a pretty basic human right.


Sales tax in Mississippi on $30 is $2.10. In a year, that totals to 766.50. Our average worker is paying 1.8% of his salary in food taxes. If Romney lived in Mississippi though, he would pay 0.004% of his income in food taxes. The average worker's tax rate as a portion of his income would be 450 times higher.

Granted, Romney buys a lot more luxury items. It's still unfair that the worker's contribution to the government through his food is a decent chunk of his salary, while our hypothetical Romney-in-Mississippi's food tax is trivial.


My problem with US libertarians doesn't end with taxation policy, though. They only care about your freedom as it relates to the government. I like to say that Libertarians want government to stop invading your civil rights so companies can make a profit doing it. I like a government that exists to protect my freedom from others. Coercion via unequal negotiating positions exist, and labor laws, financial regulations, consumer protections, other stuff Democrats do protects me from that coercion. Their sane positions on drug policy, gay marriage, and government searches and habeas corpus don't outweigh that.

sam_i_am wrote:They are also Left of the democrats on nearly all moral-values issues such as drugs, contraception, gay-mairage, etc.
I'm not sure how you can be left of the Democrats on contraception. Democrats want it totally legalized, and would like the government to pay for it, or at least make insurance companies do so. Not sure how you can be left of the Democrats on gay marriage now either, since they just added it to the platform (took them long enough.) Especially since a lot of libertarians don't really support those things. The Democratic candidate for President, for example, fully supports abortion rights, while the Libertarian candidate does not. Drug policy I'll give you, though Libertarians don't support publicly funded treatment programs.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby sam_i_am » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:37 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:They are also Left of the democrats on nearly all moral-values issues such as drugs, contraception, gay-mairage, etc.I'm not sure how you can be left of the Democrats on contraception. Democrats want it totally legalized, and would like the government to pay for it, or at least make insurance companies do so. Not sure how you can be left of the Democrats on gay marriage now either, since they just added it to the platform (took them long enough.) Especially since a lot of libertarians don't really support those things. The Democratic candidate for President, for example, fully supports abortion rights, while the Libertarian candidate does not. Drug policy I'll give you, though Libertarians don't support publicly funded treatment programs.


6 months ago, Barack Obama was on the record against gay marriage. Many democrats, when running for office, say to the public that they are not in favor of gay marriage.

Democrats only look like they have any stance at all in gay marriage when you compare them to the Republicans.

Libertarians, on the other hand almost universally believe that the state should not have the authority to tell you whether or not you're married.



Mittens made $20,900,000 in 2011. According to the Social Security Administration, the average US salary in 2011 was 41,673.83, which we'll round to $42,000 (Mississippi's average is probably lower, but 30 dollars is probably still high for their food costs, so we'll call this even.) An average US salary earner needs the same caloric intake as Romney, and has the same health requirements. We'll call a healthy diet a requirement, even though most people probably don't eat an optimal diet, because I think a healthy diet is a pretty basic human right.


Sales tax in Mississippi on $30 is $2.10. In a year, that totals to 766.50. Our average worker is paying 1.8% of his salary in food taxes. If Romney lived in Mississippi though, he would pay 0.004% of his income in food taxes. The average worker's tax rate as a portion of his income would be 450 times higher.

Granted, Romney buys a lot more luxury items. It's still unfair that the worker's contribution to the government through his food is a decent chunk of his salary, while our hypothetical Romney-in-Mississippi's food tax is trivial.


You're glossing over the fact that Romney buys more luxury items, and spends a lot more in general as though sales tax on food

You're also glossing over what was discussed just a few posts ago where simple food is often taxed at a lower rate than more 'optional' items.

You're also missing costs of doing business, where a business often spends nearly as much as it generates in revenue, and the profit comes off of the margins.


Compare that to today, where if you make $40,000 about 20% of that is paid in tax, and if you make millions, but hire effective accountants, you pay less tax than that.
Last edited by sam_i_am on Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:19 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Steroid » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:57 am UTC

Why is the key factor, in taxation, the portion of income taxed, rather than the absolute amount? If my choices are a constant-dollar amount of taxes or a constant-percent amount, I'd rather have the constant dollars, since if I make more money, I get to keep more of it?

morriswalters wrote:In terms of useful things, I wouldn't mind seeing something which makes some of the divisions we are experiencing less painful. I think that large cities should have greater representation at both the state and federal level. Our government is beset with a government stuck with an agrarian tradition in an age where cities are the dominant human endeavor. The Libertarian ideal would be of a state as the servitor of the individual, whereas I see the state as the servitor of the group.

If the state serves the group, and the businesses serve the group (and they will always favor the larger market over the small), then who is left to allow the individual to pursue his own interests when they conflict with those of the group?

omgryebread wrote:My problem with US libertarians doesn't end with taxation policy, though. They only care about your freedom as it relates to the government. I like to say that Libertarians want government to stop invading your civil rights so companies can make a profit doing it. I like a government that exists to protect my freedom from others. Coercion via unequal negotiating positions exist, and labor laws, financial regulations, consumer protections, other stuff Democrats do protects me from that coercion. Their sane positions on drug policy, gay marriage, and government searches and habeas corpus don't outweigh that.

But it cuts me off from being able to make and spend money as I see fit. I care about freedoms at different levels than you. I'm not particularly worried about starving, because I'm confident that I can always earn enough for food. I'm not worried about freedom in health care, because I'd rather get sick and die than live when I can't advance and get rich. I want, someday, to have so much money that I don't have to work or think about what I buy (should I have the chicken or the burger? get both!), which I can't do if I have to always take equal negotiating positions and protect the consumers of what I produce.

In other words, I advance up the hierarchy of needs faster than you. I say I have enough of the basic physiological needs and am now desirous of luxury. Why does your pace take precedence over mine?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby morriswalters » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:56 am UTC

Steroid wrote:If the state serves the group, and the businesses serve the group (and they will always favor the larger market over the small), then who is left to allow the individual to pursue his own interests when they conflict with those of the group?
I don't think there is a simple answer to this, but I'll try. The group outweighs the one where the goals are so important that they couldn't be accomplished by any one person or when the ones actions are detrimental to the group over all. That sounds trite but it's not. Healthcare in an urban environment is the poster boy for this example. Ask yourself this. How much effort by how many people must be exerted so that one Doctor can obtain his license to practice? I'll give you a short answer. A functioning, high level society, with a stable economy, and a stable social environment. And you shouldn't take this to mean that the majority rules. When government functions best is when the greatest good to the whole overrides the will of the current majority, whatever it is.
Steroid wrote:Why is the key factor, in taxation, the portion of income taxed, rather than the absolute amount? If my choices are a constant-dollar amount of taxes or a constant-percent amount, I'd rather have the constant dollars, since if I make more money, I get to keep more of it?
I'm not sure I understand what your asking. Care to clarify?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:11 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote: labor laws, financial regulations, consumer protections, other stuff Democrats do


Talking about and doing are different things. both your big parties are a joke when it comes to such things when it won't make their donors money.


Steroid wrote:In other words, I advance up the hierarchy of needs faster than you. I say I have enough of the basic physiological needs and am now desirous of luxury. Why does your pace take precedence over mine?


Put another way

"Why is my desire to have a solid gold house less important than the desires of all the people in that village to not starve to death"

"Why is your blinding agony more important than my itch?"

"Why is your dying child more important than my dying goldfish?"
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Steroid » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:19 pm UTC

Precisely. Now answer the questions. Why should I be more concerned with your pain than mine? Why should I look at two other people and automatically gravitate to the one who's worse off?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:36 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:Precisely. Now answer the questions. Why should I be more concerned with your pain than mine? Why should I look at two other people and automatically gravitate to the one who's worse off?

When one is major and one is trivial?

basic human empathy.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby yurell » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:49 pm UTC

HungryHobo, don't bother. Steroid's moral system has been established previously as 'whatever benefits Steroid, no matter how minor the advantage to him or how large the harm to others'.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Steroid » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:09 pm UTC

True. I guess what I'm asking, and I'll put it in the second person if it helps, why should you give any consideration to my well-being over your own, and if you shouldn't, why does that not suggest that libertarianism is the optimum form of government to live under?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Azrael » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:21 pm UTC

Why should anyone spend time explaining this to you again? Look, your personal ethical code as been well established, and you've made it clear that you reject the rationale behind opposing views. Could you please make an effort to remember some of the major positions (or even the major schools, despite the fact that they may contradict each other) taken by the rest of the world, so it's not Teach Steroid About Humanity every time you pop into one of these discussions?

The simple answer is that if you assume that society should make some effort to optimize total happiness, than curtailing resources spent on the upper end of a single person's diminishing return curve in order to refocus those resources on effecting larger net positive change at the lower end of several people's curves is a rational choice. Thus, keeping Bob from starving is more important that your gold toilet.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:49 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:True. I guess what I'm asking, and I'll put it in the second person if it helps, why should you give any consideration to my well-being over your own, and if you shouldn't, why does that not suggest that libertarianism is the optimum form of government to live under?


lets try rational self interest. when a group of people (rather than just one person with unlimited power) are trying to choose what system would be best to live under it's rational for them to not all assume they'll be the richest person in the group.

as such a system which attempts to optimise total, average or overall wellbing or happiness is a rational choice since it maximises each individuals chances of being in a reasonably good position while minimizing their chances of being in a really terrible one in the likely case of ending up as one of the not-rich even if it's at the cost of perhaps not being quite so amazingly well off in the very unlikely case that they actually end up as one of the richest of the rich.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:In terms of useful things, I wouldn't mind seeing something which makes some of the divisions we are experiencing less painful. I think that large cities should have greater representation at both the state and federal level. Our government is beset with a government stuck with an agrarian tradition in an age where cities are the dominant human endeavor. The Libertarian ideal would be of a state as the servitor of the individual, whereas I see the state as the servitor of the group.


Groups are nothing but a bunch of individuals. If every individual in a lot is better off...then the group is better off.

I do agree that many government policies are stuck in agrarian or industrial age mindsets. The incentives for having children are an excellent example of this. Realistically, I would appreciate getting rid of government incentive programs altogether...

China's one child policy is not possible in a country which is moderately free.


It's not an ideal policy, but it provides a very obvious rebuttal to the idea that high education is the only way to controlling population levels.

Sales taxes aren't fair. At least that is the position that I currently hold. I'm open on it if you can convince me that with great wealth whatever good it does, is not self perpetuating and doesn't attempt to sell tax plans which unburden them at the expense of someone else.


The word "fair" is highly subjective. Less subjective is the fact that sales taxes are regressive and incentivize saving. The first is generally seen as a negative, the latter as a positive(within reasonable degrees, certainly).

Personally, I favor a purely flat tax that treats all income equally, regardless of source, coupled with anti-inflationary policies

If the wealthy pay more it is because they benefit more from from the society they exist in.


I've always found this argument to be poorly justified. Many things, all people benefit from equally. An army to keep us from being invaded, clean air, clean water, a just criminal system...these things help everyone pretty much the same. You could argue that the rich have more to lose to criminals...but they're more capable of hiring protection from criminals, so it's mostly a wash. Anything impacting health...we've all got just the one body.

There are only to types of consumption that I'm interested in, things that we need and things that we want. Since by any metric that I am aware of, any given person has the same needs, the difference lies in what we want.
[/quote]

Want's are pretty universal too. I absoluely want a private aircraft and a yacht. Toss in a huge mansion on the beach. Also, that robot of death japan recently released with gatling guns controlled by the operators smile. Basically everyone has all manner of wants, that are limited only by their self-control and available resources. Some people are more able to save, yes...but society needs both saving and spending. Decrying either as bad is short sighted, you need a nice, healthy balance of savings and loans if you want the economy to have liquidity. So, ideally, you want to penalize neither of these things. A 0% inflation rate and a flat income tax will do this...alternatively, you can have a sales tax, and use inflation to balance the savings. This is...probably less desirable, but also fair, in a certain light.

HungryHobo wrote:
Steroid wrote:True. I guess what I'm asking, and I'll put it in the second person if it helps, why should you give any consideration to my well-being over your own, and if you shouldn't, why does that not suggest that libertarianism is the optimum form of government to live under?


lets try rational self interest. when a group of people (rather than just one person with unlimited power) are trying to choose what system would be best to live under it's rational for them to not all assume they'll be the richest person in the group.

as such a system which attempts to optimise total, average or overall wellbing or happiness is a rational choice since it maximises each individuals chances of being in a reasonably good position while minimizing their chances of being in a really terrible one in the likely case of ending up as one of the not-rich even if it's at the cost of perhaps not being quite so amazingly well off in the very unlikely case that they actually end up as one of the richest of the rich.


While it makes sense to assume some form of the mediocrity principle, and go for the best outcome for most people in general...if everyone held this viewpoint and maintained it solidly, lotteries would not be a thing. Therefore, we can safely say that many people do not operate heavily on this logic.

Furthermore, we can trivially establish that each and every one of us is not maximizing our resources for the best of humanity overall. I mean, I've got a flat screen TV. Could I have instead sent that money to starving children in africa? Absolutely. I've donated some money to charity, sure, but I utilize a fair number of entertainment options that are probably a lot less important than people starving to death, to an objective observer. Thing is...it's not that important to me. We all do it. If it's a choice between saving a loved one's life for $30k, or using that $30k to save many, many people in low income portions of the world, we'll pick the first one. And hell, almost none of us give up all our entertainment options to maximize overall happiness in humanity.

Is this right? *shrug* But it's extremely normal for humans. Any system that ignores this is based on shaky ground.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby morriswalters » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:50 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I've always found this argument to be poorly justified. Many things, all people benefit from equally. An army to keep us from being invaded, clean air, clean water, a just criminal system...these things help everyone pretty much the same. You could argue that the rich have more to lose to criminals...but they're more capable of hiring protection from criminals, so it's mostly a wash. Anything impacting health...we've all got just the one body.
That's an interesting point of view. Two problems. One, the wealthier can't exist without the less wealthy. Two, the wealthy are more likely to be able to do more damage if they think it is in their self interest. We spent an lot of time making the people south of here(the US) hate us. Using the resources of the nation to ensure compliance for agribusiness on their banana plantations. We even had a name for it. Banana republics. That's a over the top generalization, but it makes the point. If you think that the wealthy benefited from breathing the air and drinking the water the same as the less wealthy, their general strategy was to move somewhere where the water and air are already clean and the hell with those who couldn't move. Witness the summer castles in the Adirondacks or the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. However I'm not out to bash the wealthy, however easy it is to do. But I believe that you are kidding yourself if you think that they consume the same amount of the resources of the government than the average man.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:01 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I've always found this argument to be poorly justified. Many things, all people benefit from equally. An army to keep us from being invaded, clean air, clean water, a just criminal system...these things help everyone pretty much the same. You could argue that the rich have more to lose to criminals...but they're more capable of hiring protection from criminals, so it's mostly a wash. Anything impacting health...we've all got just the one body.
That's an interesting point of view. Two problems. One, the wealthier can't exist without the less wealthy. Two, the wealthy are more likely to be able to do more damage if they think it is in their self interest. We spent an lot of time making the people south of here(the US) hate us. Using the resources of the nation to ensure compliance for agribusiness on their banana plantations. We even had a name for it. Banana republics. That's a over the top generalization, but it makes the point. If you think that the wealthy benefited from breathing the air and drinking the water the same as the less wealthy, their general strategy was to move somewhere where the water and air are already clean and the hell with those who couldn't move. Witness the summer castles in the Adirondacks or the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. However I'm not out to bash the wealthy, however easy it is to do. But I believe that you are kidding yourself if you think that they consume the same amount of the resources of the government than the average man.


And frankly, the less wealthy generally can't exist without the wealthy. I've never gotten a job from a poor person. Basically nobody in modern society can live exactly as they do without anyone else, because of the nature of specialization.

Wealth is power, absolutely. We have never actually found a way to entirely equalize power...and probably never will, since some people are just not interested in pursuing power, and some people are. Hell, a large percentage of the US can't even be bothered to vote. That said, if concentrations of power worry you, government typically offers positions of power that dwarf anything a corporation can muster. Corporations generally lack aircraft carriers and the like. If this a concern, smaller, more libertarian governments would appear to lessen the maximal disparity of power. Of course, the power difference remaining is still extreme. In a conflict with McDonalds, I'm unlikely to be able to actually affect them. They are almost certainly going to be unable to come after me with guns(and even a distopian evil-McDonalds is likely to have significantly less firepower than a government who has it in for me), but I'm probably not going to be able to do much to them. This, unfortunately, seems universal, and is probably unsolvable.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Torchship » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, there's a couple points here. First off, a cost of living increase for a segment of society may be acceptable, depending on how much/how large relative to the benefits realized by the rest of society. I'd accept a fairly large hit to notable portions of society if it increased the rate of advance of society as a whole, as this will eventually mean a better world for everyone...even if some segments take a hit short term.

Realistically, had I been able to abandon paying into these services at any point in the past(or indeed, even now), and of course, forsake the associated benefits, I would have. Health insurance isn't generally a problem through college...and if employed after college(not difficult provided you graduate and pick a field with decent employment opportunity), you can easily pick up health insurance that way. The very rich don't need health insurance at all, and the very poor already have medicare. You've got niches like self-employed middle class folks that pay substantially for health insurance, but self-employment is widely acknowledged to have more risk. It's a tradeoff. Many government services are things I will never utilize...or frankly do not want to exist(see, the war on drugs). The things I do want...I could easily afford in a privatized system. My current income tax alone is like buying a brand new car of the sort I drive, and driving it off a cliff. Every year. Total tax impact is much more significant, and hits the middle class pretty heavily. Reducing overall tax impact across the board will be wildly beneficial for most middle class Americans.


Indeed. However, you have failed to show how the benefit to the middle and upper classes outweighs the massive damage done to the lower classes. When 25% of the population - who were formerly paying ~20% of their income to taxes - suddenly have to pay 40% (or even more) for the same services, I require some rather high-quality evidence as to the value of this change to the rest of society. Industrial Revolution UK and Gilded Age US have been raised multiple times as excellent examples of the typical quality of life available to the lower classes in such situations, and they have been almost universally declared unacceptable.

Tyndmyr wrote:Why is it necessary?

Private schools and homeschooling have existed for quite some time. We've had massive public schooling for about 150ish years...that's notable, but not sufficient to establish that no other way is possible. Certainly, fairly big advancements in society have happened in places without public schools. We don't need wildly new things...people have learned without public schooling for ages.


Private education has indeed existed for many centuries, but has also totally failed to provide the kind of broad, highly educated populace upon which modern society depends. A technological and highly industrialised society such as our own relies on vast numbers of people who can invent the technology and develop the industry in order to be prosperous, and many of these people come from the lower-middle and lower classes. The availability of education has been well linked to social mobility and the size of the middle class; if good public education has created and maintained the large middle classes that generate the majority of wealth in the developed world, then elimination of public education will lead to the destruction of these same classes. In Gilded Age America and Industrial Revolution UK the education necessary to become an engineer (or some other highly productive professional) was only available to the (upper-)middle and upper classes; private institutions were priced clear out of the range of the lower classes for any but the most basic kind of education, and home-schooling is a ludicrous suggestion when the parents were barely more educated than the children.

Tyndmyr wrote:At current educational costs? Absolutely, it's not reasonable. The costs are just too bloody high. Education has been vastly outstripping inflation in cost for some time now(with college being a particularly notable offender). See also http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66

If we consider, say, 1960s costs, adjusted for inflation, we're looking at under $3k per student per year. That's *vastly* more affordable than the current 11.5k.


I don't think the 1960's are a very good point of reference for reasonable costs of education in the modern era. For one, technological advancements (computers, etc) have lead to an increase in costs, as students must be trained to use these vital pieces of equipment. Secondly, access to education has been vastly improved in rural areas, which will inevitably drive up costs. Thirdly, the wages of teachers have also increased significantly (in constant dollars) since the 60's.
Private education in the modern era is the only real comparison for private education in the modern era, and from what I've seen it does not perform significantly better than public education (in terms of total cost) on average. $3000 to $6000 seems to be the typical range of costs (to the student), but government subsidies usually double that figure. Certainly, I have never encountered any large-scale private education running for less than a cost of $6000, but maybe there's something I've missed.

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, if you are in the bottom quarter of the country by income, perhaps you shouldn't attempt to significantly exceed the national average in children. That's just poor planning by any metric.


I don't think "having a disabled child" qualifies as a poor decision, despite the fact that the costs to educate such a child could easily bankrupt more than half of the population.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:01 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:Indeed. However, you have failed to show how the benefit to the middle and upper classes outweighs the massive damage done to the lower classes. When 25% of the population - who were formerly paying ~20% of their income to taxes - suddenly have to pay 40% (or even more) for the same services, I require some rather high-quality evidence as to the value of this change to the rest of society. Industrial Revolution UK and Gilded Age US have been raised multiple times as excellent examples of the typical quality of life available to the lower classes in such situations, and they have been almost universally declared unacceptable.


We're looking at around 20% total taxation(I was reminded of some other taxes recently, such as a mandatory check on out of state vehicles to ensure that they have seatbelts. Costs $110. There's a bunch of gotchas, but I can't be bothered to add in every last one of them) for minimum wage folks, true. What do they get in return, in the US?

Medical? Well, sort of. Medicare is not only pretty limited, it's also contributing massively to price distortion, since it's a form of price setting. It's at least partially responsible for the inflated cost of health care in the US. That's a pretty obvious social burden that the US faces currently.

They get roads. They get defense. Those are mostly going to stay the same anyway.

They get police protection, in theory. However, police enforcement is heavily biased towards high-income neighborhoods, and crime heavily targets the poor. So, the idea that they're getting disproportionate benefits here is sketchy.

Fire protection happens by volunteer departments in places where they are not paid. Fire protection is something you'll have anyways, because as a society, we consider it important and react appropriately.

They get social security, which has consistently underperformed average investment opportunities. Given that society as a whole will have the entire spectrum of investment accumen, we can expect average returns when individual investment is averaged over society. Therefore, abolition of this program will result in a society that is wealthier as a whole, even if the extremes have more variation.

The average person makes a substantially higher wage...the middle class individual pays the majority of the taxes, and will receive a minority of the benefits(medicare will offer him no benefits throughout his working life, for instance). It's far worse in terms of cost than for the bottom quarter. Let us consider a single income family making $50k a year(someone who is solidly middle class by any definition). They have the statistically likely two children, one husband, one wife. 15.3% payroll taxes are levied in total. In 2012, he claims 4 exemptions, reducing income tax by 15200, paying $4785 in income tax(8700 taxed at 10%, rest at 15%. taxation goes up sharply after this exact income point), resulting in a take home of $37,565. He pays an average of $1180 in property taxes. He pays an average sales tax of 9.64%(source: http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/17/average-sales-tax-rate-record-high-shopping-arizona-25-highest-sales-taxes.html) on his remaining money, decreasing his spendable income to $32,877. We're looking at about $1k in unemployment tax...but that happens employer side, so that doesn't affect his take-home, merely the total markdown from cost to spending money. Mandated liability insurance would further increase this bill, but varies significantly. Add in gas and vehicle taxation, and he's looking at about a $20k total cost in taxes. You can buy quite a lot with $20k.

I could do a similar example for upper classes, but it strikes me that showing how a millionaire CEO benefits from reduced taxes is...kind of trivial.

Tyndmyr wrote:Why is it necessary?

Private schools and homeschooling have existed for quite some time. We've had massive public schooling for about 150ish years...that's notable, but not sufficient to establish that no other way is possible. Certainly, fairly big advancements in society have happened in places without public schools. We don't need wildly new things...people have learned without public schooling for ages.


Private education has indeed existed for many centuries, but has also totally failed to provide the kind of broad, highly educated populace upon which modern society depends. A technological and highly industrialised society such as our own relies on vast numbers of people who can invent the technology and develop the industry in order to be prosperous, and many of these people come from the lower-middle and lower classes. The availability of education has been well linked to social mobility and the size of the middle class; if good public education has created and maintained the large middle classes that generate the majority of wealth in the developed world, then elimination of public education will lead to the destruction of these same classes. In Gilded Age America and Industrial Revolution UK the education necessary to become an engineer (or some other highly productive professional) was only available to the (upper-)middle and upper classes; private institutions were priced clear out of the range of the lower classes for any but the most basic kind of education, and home-schooling is a ludicrous suggestion when the parents were barely more educated than the children.


Modern society was created by private education. The renaissance didn't happen because the average guy on the street learned science. The industrial age did need people capable of operating machinery, and a very standardized education, and was an adjustment from agrarian society...but the industrial age has passed, and education is widely available in all manner of ways. In addition to a continuing proliferation of private schools, increases in communication speed have resulted in greater access for the motivated. I can go browse Berkley's materials for their classes, absolutely free of charge. This is not a type of access that was widely available in earlier ages.

Giving public education credit for the modern world is definitely overselling it. Now, anyone who really wants to learn basically can. The problems we face today are not those of basic availability, but of attitudes like anti-intellectualism. The solutions of the industrial age no longer apply...we no longer need people that are basically fleshy robots for operating factories.

Tyndmyr wrote:At current educational costs? Absolutely, it's not reasonable. The costs are just too bloody high. Education has been vastly outstripping inflation in cost for some time now(with college being a particularly notable offender). See also http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66

If we consider, say, 1960s costs, adjusted for inflation, we're looking at under $3k per student per year. That's *vastly* more affordable than the current 11.5k.


I don't think the 1960's are a very good point of reference for reasonable costs of education in the modern era. For one, technological advancements (computers, etc) have lead to an increase in costs, as students must be trained to use these vital pieces of equipment. Secondly, access to education has been vastly improved in rural areas, which will inevitably drive up costs. Thirdly, the wages of teachers have also increased significantly (in constant dollars) since the 60's.
Private education in the modern era is the only real comparison for private education in the modern era, and from what I've seen it does not perform significantly better than public education (in terms of total cost) on average. $3000 to $6000 seems to be the typical range of costs (to the student), but government subsidies usually double that figure. Certainly, I have never encountered any large-scale private education running for less than a cost of $6000, but maybe there's something I've missed.


Note that at a cost of $6k, that'd be just a hair over a third of the average federal educational cost. That is definitely a substantial savings. Subisidies...well, subsidies to the private sector are no different from subsidizing services to individuals, save in who benefits. Redirecting the money to companies does not inherently improve efficiency, so direct subsidies to private schools also need to not exist.

But wait...according to the US dept of education, the average cost of private elementary schools is a mere $3,267 per kid/year. We're well into the five times cheaper range. That's a ludicrous benefit to society if we've saved over 80% of the education budget.

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, if you are in the bottom quarter of the country by income, perhaps you shouldn't attempt to significantly exceed the national average in children. That's just poor planning by any metric.


I don't think "having a disabled child" qualifies as a poor decision, despite the fact that the costs to educate such a child could easily bankrupt more than half of the population.


That's an edge case. Average scenarios produce average results. There will be people on both extremes, naturally. However, the majority of children are not disabled, and there is a strong correlation with low income families having higher than average numbers of children. This is a pretty severe and pervasive problem that's being supported by subsidy....and really shouldn't be. You shouldn't rely on edge cases to justify the normal effect of something. There's beneficial edge cases to everything.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby yurell » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Medical? Well, sort of. Medicare is not only pretty limited, it's also contributing massively to price distortion, since it's a form of price setting. It's at least partially responsible for the inflated cost of health care in the US. That's a pretty obvious social burden that the US faces currently.


I'd like to point out that this is a problem with the US' approach, not with universal healthcare in general; most other places that have true universal health care have it a lot cheaper (hell, Romney just praised the cheapness and coverage of the Israeli health system).

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, if you are in the bottom quarter of the country by income, perhaps you shouldn't attempt to significantly exceed the national average in children. That's just poor planning by any metric. [...] Average scenarios produce average results.


Sorry, conflated those two posts for brevity. I think you'll find your distribution is just as important as your mean — in every developed country on the planet, the poor exceed the national average in children, because poor people tend to have more children than wealthy, educated people. Is this 'poor planning'? Probably. That doesn't solve the issue, though. You can't just tell half your population (remember, 50% of the US population is working class or lower) to have fewer kids (even ignoring the horrible things this would do to your demographics); even 25% will be a major issue.

"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity,
Nothing exceeds the criticisms made of the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed."

-Herman Melville

You are coming at this from a position of privilege, and passing judgement on those who aren't making purely logical decisions about their life and happiness sans those privileges (dammit I spell that word wrong every time). Yes, in a perfectly rational world where people didn't have 'emotions' or 'social conditioning' or 'cultural expectations' it may be 'ideal' for the poor to decide to have as few children as possible to conserve their resources; or they may go for more children in order to ensure more survive to adulthood (a la pre mid-nineteenth century).
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Torchship » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:23 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:We're looking at around 20% total taxation(I was reminded of some other taxes recently, such as a mandatory check on out of state vehicles to ensure that they have seatbelts. Costs $110. There's a bunch of gotchas, but I can't be bothered to add in every last one of them) for minimum wage folks, true. What do they get in return, in the US?

Medical? Well, sort of. Medicare is not only pretty limited, it's also contributing massively to price distortion, since it's a form of price setting. It's at least partially responsible for the inflated cost of health care in the US. That's a pretty obvious social burden that the US faces currently.

They get roads. They get defense. Those are mostly going to stay the same anyway.

They get police protection, in theory. However, police enforcement is heavily biased towards high-income neighborhoods, and crime heavily targets the poor. So, the idea that they're getting disproportionate benefits here is sketchy.

Fire protection happens by volunteer departments in places where they are not paid. Fire protection is something you'll have anyways, because as a society, we consider it important and react appropriately.

They get social security, which has consistently underperformed average investment opportunities. Given that society as a whole will have the entire spectrum of investment accumen, we can expect average returns when individual investment is averaged over society. Therefore, abolition of this program will result in a society that is wealthier as a whole, even if the extremes have more variation.


As Yurell said, it is the private, not the public side of US healthcare that has lead to the extremely high average cost. Many other nations have successfully implemented universal healthcare for far cheaper than the US system. Police and fire services will only become more biased towards the rich under a private system, as it is far more profitable to do so. Comparing social security to an average investment is incorrect, as investments made by under-educated lower-class people will necessarily perform below average. Additionally, directly linking the social security net to market performance is a terrible idea even in the most ideal of cases, as the time when it is most needed is the time when it is least capable of providing support.

Tyndmyr wrote:The average person makes a substantially higher wage...the middle class individual pays the majority of the taxes, and will receive a minority of the benefits(medicare will offer him no benefits throughout his working life, for instance). It's far worse in terms of cost than for the bottom quarter. Let us consider a single income family making $50k a year(someone who is solidly middle class by any definition). They have the statistically likely two children, one husband, one wife. 15.3% payroll taxes are levied in total. In 2012, he claims 4 exemptions, reducing income tax by 15200, paying $4785 in income tax(8700 taxed at 10%, rest at 15%. taxation goes up sharply after this exact income point), resulting in a take home of $37,565. He pays an average of $1180 in property taxes. He pays an average sales tax of 9.64%(source: http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/17/average-sales-tax-rate-record-high-shopping-arizona-25-highest-sales-taxes.html) on his remaining money, decreasing his spendable income to $32,877. We're looking at about $1k in unemployment tax...but that happens employer side, so that doesn't affect his take-home, merely the total markdown from cost to spending money. Mandated liability insurance would further increase this bill, but varies significantly. Add in gas and vehicle taxation, and he's looking at about a $20k total cost in taxes. You can buy quite a lot with $20k.


But a person on a $50 000 salary is already reasonably well off; the extra several thousand dollars that removing their tax burden would give them (after cost of the services which they were formerly receiving are subtracted) is not needed to provide any necessities. Certainly this extra money will enable the purchase of extra luxuries, but this is much less worthy a cause than providing fundamental necessities to lower-class people who cannot even afford to send their children to school without (massive) assistance.

So, again, why should we accept the luxuries of the middle and upper classes as more important than the fundamental rights of the lower classes? The mean income may very well increase under a libertarian system, but this means very little compared to the massive damage done to 25%, or more, of the population.

Tyndmyr wrote:Modern society was created by private education. The renaissance didn't happen because the average guy on the street learned science. The industrial age did need people capable of operating machinery, and a very standardized education, and was an adjustment from agrarian society...but the industrial age has passed, and education is widely available in all manner of ways. In addition to a continuing proliferation of private schools, increases in communication speed have resulted in greater access for the motivated. I can go browse Berkley's materials for their classes, absolutely free of charge. This is not a type of access that was widely available in earlier ages.

Giving public education credit for the modern world is definitely overselling it. Now, anyone who really wants to learn basically can. The problems we face today are not those of basic availability, but of attitudes like anti-intellectualism. The solutions of the industrial age no longer apply...we no longer need people that are basically fleshy robots for operating factories.


This part of your post strikes me as a bit of a non sequitur. I've shown multiple times that even the most basic kinds of education are unaffordable to the lower 25% of the population, yet you respond with vague claims about how "education is available". How precisely will that education be available to the lower classes, given that they cannot pay for it? The simple availability of information is not a counterpoint to this; if all it takes is a textbook to educate someone, then the Gilded Age US should've been knee-deep in self-educated professionals. Since there has never been a single example of a society - whether libertarian or socialist or anything in between - where even a large minority of the educated populace was self-educated, I totally reject your assertion that the availability of information is a sufficient stand-in for education. Almost all people require a solid, enforced framework in order to learn a subject in any depth, and that's expensive.

Tyndmyr wrote:Note that at a cost of $6k, that'd be just a hair over a third of the average federal educational cost. That is definitely a substantial savings. Subisidies...well, subsidies to the private sector are no different from subsidizing services to individuals, save in who benefits. Redirecting the money to companies does not inherently improve efficiency, so direct subsidies to private schools also need to not exist.

But wait...according to the US dept of education, the average cost of private elementary schools is a mere $3,267 per kid/year. We're well into the five times cheaper range. That's a ludicrous benefit to society if we've saved over 80% of the education budget.


Do you have a link to the DoE article where that figure is discussed? The only corroborating evidence I've been able to find is this Cato Institute article which simply parrots that precise number. As far as I can tell, the way the number is used in the Cato article refers only to the cost to the student, which agrees well with my earlier numbers. If government subsidies of private education are eliminated the cost will likely double, back into the same range as public education.
I also wonder where you got the $18 000 figure for the average public education costs, given that your own previous source for this subject (this one) lists the average cost at closer to $10 000.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Vince_Right » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:01 am UTC

Torchship wrote:...the fundamental rights of the lower classes?

I do believe there is a fundamental misunderstanding of rights in the above. Who took something from them?

Torchship wrote:... very little compared to the massive damage done to 25%, or more, of the population...even the most basic kinds of education are unaffordable to the lower 25% of the population

Is leaving people as they are really an act that does damage or is it not an act? How about Africa, are the rich Americans/Europeans/Asians doing damage to Africa by not providing education (except some current initiatives that are insufficient and under pressure in the crisis)?

I would actually use a libertarian argument to defend your points: If companies do not provide basic education to all possible talents, they will end up with a system where they miss out on some of the greatest talents. If their competitors are better at gathering talent, they will lose from the competition in a free market.
Weiss (2009) found that growth of GDP per capita could be derived as a linear function of the percentage of the population with an IQ above 105.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby yurell » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:08 am UTC

Weiss (2009) found that growth of GDP per capita could be derived as a linear function of the percentage of the population with an IQ above 105.


I'm incredibly sceptical about this, given the nature of IQ.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Torchship » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:29 am UTC

Vince_Right wrote:I do believe there is a fundamental misunderstanding of rights in the above. Who took something from them?


I don't hold that property rights are the only kind of rights, and hence believe that it is possible to violate rights in more ways than mere theft.

Vince_Right wrote:Is leaving people as they are really an act that does damage or is it not an act? How about Africa, are the rich Americans/Europeans/Asians doing damage to Africa by not providing education (except some current initiatives that are insufficient and under pressure in the crisis)?


Yes. I am a consequentialist, and hold that responsibility for the consequences of a person's actions (or lack thereof) lies firmly at the feet of that person. I've raised that basic point several times in this thread and no-one has objected, hence I consider it fairly safe to assume that everyone else here is also more-or-less a consequentialist.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby leady » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:12 am UTC

Torchship wrote:Yes. I am a consequentialist, and hold that responsibility for the consequences of a person's actions (or lack thereof) lies firmly at the feet of that person. I've raised that basic point several times in this thread and no-one has objected, hence I consider it fairly safe to assume that everyone else here is also more-or-less a consequentialist.


Awesome - so everyone is immoral because even if people say that, they don't act that way.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby HungryHobo » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:01 am UTC

yurell wrote:or they may go for more children in order to ensure more survive to adulthood (a la pre mid-nineteenth century).


If certain people get what they want an eliminate social security and social medical care then this would only become more rational.

After all if you're poor you need to make sure someone will survive to support you in your old age.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Vince_Right » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:08 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
Weiss (2009) found that growth of GDP per capita could be derived as a linear function of the percentage of the population with an IQ above 105.

I'm incredibly sceptical about this, given the nature of IQ.

You are not only one, I also believe there might be a different link in play and that this will not hold the test of time. It only supports that with better education the GDP growth is easier.

Torchship wrote:... hence believe that it is possible to violate rights in more ways than mere theft.

Correct, agree. What fundamental right is violated thought by not providing education? Where does that right come from?
The point is socialist ideas lead to "I want something"; "I convince the government to support this"; "The government makes someone else pay". That is not a right, on the contrary.

Torchship wrote:Yes. I am a consequentialist, and hold that responsibility for the consequences of a person's actions (or lack thereof) lies firmly at the feet of that person.

Agree on: "responsibility for the consequences of a person's actions"
Where on: lack of actions from a person, I'm a lot more mitigated. Look at concepts like bounded rationality, we have to focus on what we can handle, it might be morally better (and I believe so) to help others, but it is not our responsibility.

So in short: It is very sad if people can not get to education, it is probably not good for the local economy (missing talent), but it is the problem of the one that needs the talent, not mine. In other words "luck egalitarianism" is a beautiful concept, but it is not natural and it is certainly not my responsibility.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:32 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Medical? Well, sort of. Medicare is not only pretty limited, it's also contributing massively to price distortion, since it's a form of price setting. It's at least partially responsible for the inflated cost of health care in the US. That's a pretty obvious social burden that the US faces currently.


I'd like to point out that this is a problem with the US' approach, not with universal healthcare in general; most other places that have true universal health care have it a lot cheaper (hell, Romney just praised the cheapness and coverage of the Israeli health system).


Our health system is quite a lot different from...basically any others. In a few ways this is good(really high rate of research, for instance), but in many ways, definitely could be improved, and arguably, you could improve the bad without ditching the good in many cases, regardless of if you pursue universal care or not(though I'd say that cutting costs would make care more universal, regardless of government sponsorship).

But yeah, a lot of people would be better off in the long term if medicare, in it's current form, went away. A few would be harmed if it was replaced by absolutely nothing, but arguably a lot less than would benefit from the decreased pricing. Of course, this is mostly a criticism of medicare itself, not other possible medical programs.

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, if you are in the bottom quarter of the country by income, perhaps you shouldn't attempt to significantly exceed the national average in children. That's just poor planning by any metric. [...] Average scenarios produce average results.


Sorry, conflated those two posts for brevity. I think you'll find your distribution is just as important as your mean — in every developed country on the planet, the poor exceed the national average in children, because poor people tend to have more children than wealthy, educated people. Is this 'poor planning'? Probably. That doesn't solve the issue, though. You can't just tell half your population (remember, 50% of the US population is working class or lower) to have fewer kids (even ignoring the horrible things this would do to your demographics); even 25% will be a major issue.

"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity,
Nothing exceeds the criticisms made of the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed."

-Herman Melville

You are coming at this from a position of privilege, and passing judgement on those who aren't making purely logical decisions about their life and happiness sans those privileges (dammit I spell that word wrong every time). Yes, in a perfectly rational world where people didn't have 'emotions' or 'social conditioning' or 'cultural expectations' it may be 'ideal' for the poor to decide to have as few children as possible to conserve their resources; or they may go for more children in order to ensure more survive to adulthood (a la pre mid-nineteenth century).


Nah. I became a libertarian at an early age. I grew up in a home dramatically under average wage(dad made twenty five cents over minimum wage for most of my childhood), and there were six of us kids. I didn't come from privilege, and didn't adopt libertarian views because I was privileged. I am now privileged BECAUSE of my views. Had I opted to stay to the same lifestyle as my parents, skip college, continue working menial jobs at low incomes and crank out lots of babies post-haste.....I'd be as poor as my siblings who did that. Working my way through college and joining the military had lots of terribly un-fun times, but they got me out of the cycle, and I made those decisions because of my ideology.

Just because people want a pile of children due to emotions or cultural expectations does not mean it is smart for society to continue to subsidize this. That way leads to stagnation. Are some people going to have their emotions hurt because they can't have an above average-sized family on a below average income? Probably. But their expectation is not particularly reasonable, and society can't possibly fulfill every unreasonable expectation it's members have, nor is that it's job.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby yurell » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:04 pm UTC

Hang on, so you benefited immensely from the very same programs that you're now wanting to be cut? Or do you believe that pulling yourself up by your own bootlaces was really entirely you, and had nothing to do with, say, your parents being able to send you to high school instead of selling you as a chimney sweep?
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:11 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:As Yurell said, it is the private, not the public side of US healthcare that has lead to the extremely high average cost. Many other nations have successfully implemented universal healthcare for far cheaper than the US system. Police and fire services will only become more biased towards the rich under a private system, as it is far more profitable to do so. Comparing social security to an average investment is incorrect, as investments made by under-educated lower-class people will necessarily perform below average. Additionally, directly linking the social security net to market performance is a terrible idea even in the most ideal of cases, as the time when it is most needed is the time when it is least capable of providing support.


Not at all. Price fixing by welfare and mandated treatment of those unable to pay result in costs being passed along to those of us who can pay. I recently got quotes for a medical procedure, and as they noted that some policies don't cover it...I got a quote for if I didn't have insurance. Turns out it did...so I got the insurance quote as well, and it ended up being several times higher. In short, people with insurance are subsidizing those without...people with medicare are paying a third price, which may or may not match either or the other two, and costs aren't really being assigned anything like fairly. That's going to result in non-optimal consumption of services.

Note that we'll probably still have at least a somewhat higher medical cost even if the current mess is fixed. We dominate the world in medical research, and have medical folks with a high cost of living and medical insurance. All that money's coming from somewhere.

But a person on a $50 000 salary is already reasonably well off; the extra several thousand dollars that removing their tax burden would give them (after cost of the services which they were formerly receiving are subtracted) is not needed to provide any necessities. Certainly this extra money will enable the purchase of extra luxuries, but this is much less worthy a cause than providing fundamental necessities to lower-class people who cannot even afford to send their children to school without (massive) assistance.


$50k is indeed a reasonable salary for the national average. It was included solely because I was asked to demonstrate that the reduction of taxation would benefit the middle and upper classes. That's a fair request, since the middle class is statistically a pretty big deal for our society.

I do not contest that some people in lower incomes may be worse off in a system without as many safety nets and social programs. However, I believe that reduced costs makes these cutbacks more manageable, even for them, and benefit a majority of society. In the long term, improving society will improve even the lot of the poor folks. You'll always have those with less cash, but being poor in America now is very different from being poor in America a hundred years ago.

So, again, why should we accept the luxuries of the middle and upper classes as more important than the fundamental rights of the lower classes? The mean income may very well increase under a libertarian system, but this means very little compared to the massive damage done to 25%, or more, of the population.


What do you mean, "fundamental rights"? Under what possible system of rights do they have a right to having their lifestyle subsidized with my funds? This is *especially* true for the subsidization of large families.

This part of your post strikes me as a bit of a non sequitur. I've shown multiple times that even the most basic kinds of education are unaffordable to the lower 25% of the population, yet you respond with vague claims about how "education is available". How precisely will that education be available to the lower classes, given that they cannot pay for it? The simple availability of information is not a counterpoint to this; if all it takes is a textbook to educate someone, then the Gilded Age US should've been knee-deep in self-educated professionals. Since there has never been a single example of a society - whether libertarian or socialist or anything in between - where even a large minority of the educated populace was self-educated, I totally reject your assertion that the availability of information is a sufficient stand-in for education. Almost all people require a solid, enforced framework in order to learn a subject in any depth, and that's expensive.


Availability is not strictly binary. Is the ability to download all the information used to teach a course at Berkley as good as attending Berkley? Of course not. Is it better than not having access to that information at all? Of course!

Most people don't entirely self-educate, but the mere availability of wikipedia and google, for example, have led to many people doing at least some self-education on topics that interest them. This is absolutely a significant improvement over prior eras.

Do you have a link to the DoE article where that figure is discussed? The only corroborating evidence I've been able to find is this Cato Institute article which simply parrots that precise number. As far as I can tell, the way the number is used in the Cato article refers only to the cost to the student, which agrees well with my earlier numbers. If government subsidies of private education are eliminated the cost will likely double, back into the same range as public education.
I also wonder where you got the $18 000 figure for the average public education costs, given that your own previous source for this subject (this one) lists the average cost at closer to $10 000.


The original data appears to be derived from the report at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/ ... 09_059.asp

And yes, it is average tuition charged to students. A great many private schools receive funds from charity, religious organizations, alumni, and yes, in some cases, government. Only the last one needs to be cut. It is not essential that the student's family bear the entire cost...only that government does not.

Apologies on mixing up local costs and nationwide costs. Maryland does in fact have per student costs on the order of 18k, and when glancing back over stuff I'd referenced, I failed to make the distinction. Still, privatization is definitely associated with lower costs regardless of which data you use. The only difference is over how dramatic the cost reduction is.

Weiss (2009) found that growth of GDP per capita could be derived as a linear function of the percentage of the population with an IQ above 105.


This seems fascinating, but all I could find were offline references, would you have a link? There's some interesting implications of this, if tr, and I'd definitely like to explore this.

HungryHobo wrote:
yurell wrote:or they may go for more children in order to ensure more survive to adulthood (a la pre mid-nineteenth century).


If certain people get what they want an eliminate social security and social medical care then this would only become more rational.

After all if you're poor you need to make sure someone will survive to support you in your old age.


This relies on a few key points...first, it needs children to be fairly inexpensive gambles. This is...significantly less true in our society than in a more primitive one.

Secondly, it posits a society in which a low-investment child has a reasonable chance of supporting you. We live in a society where land, housing, etc are not cheap, and expect a far higher standard of living than developing nations do. This is significantly harder.

And, of course, unlike many developing societies, we have access to birth control, and that'll still be available(and cheaper than having a child) even at pretty low income levels.

In short, the same basic factors that encourage reduced children are still at play in modern societies without the emphasis on the safety net.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

yurell wrote:Hang on, so you benefited immensely from the very same programs that you're now wanting to be cut? Or do you believe that pulling yourself up by your own bootlaces was really entirely you, and had nothing to do with, say, your parents being able to send you to high school instead of selling you as a chimney sweep?


My parents never utilized medicare or the like, being right wing fundie christian sorts. God'll provide and all that. I was homeschooled until I attended college, and I definitely did work for them tons as a kid. Such is life. This is far from ideal, I'll grant you, and I don't really intend to defend their decisions as optimal, but as it happens, I have utilized remarkably few government services. I've driven on government roads, of course. I utilized work-study for one year, which I am given to understand is federally supported in some measure. Of course, I benefit from national defense, but hey, I went military for a while, so I don't feel a great debt there. And my taxes paid have been well out of proportion to benefits garnered from the gov. So, if anything, it owes me. Weird that nobody ever takes that view...

But yknow what? What if I had gone to high school, like most people do? What of it? Am I morally responsible for my parents decision? Am I forever unable to object to this way of doing things because someone else decided on something for me? Such a moral system can never justify throwing away broken social constructs. Imagine a pro-slavery advocate pointing out that his opponent has benefited from his parents owning slaves. Even if it's true, that doesn't affect the validity of his arguments at all.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby yurell » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:34 pm UTC

Hang on Tyndmyr, you don't think you come from a position of privilege, despite having parents able to take the time and money to educate you at home and being more dedicated to your education than getting their next fix? What happens to people whose parents aren't smart enough to home-school them, who can't afford to take the time, who are addicts? There are different levels of privilege, and there are convergences in these; a poor, black transwoman prostitute has it much worse than, say, a poor, white man in terms of ability to raise themselves out of 'their lot in life'.
cemper93 wrote:Dude, I just presented an elaborate multiple fraction in Comic Sans. Who are you to question me?


Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

yurell wrote:Hang on Tyndmyr, you don't think you come from a position of privilege, despite having parents able to take the time and money to educate you at home and being more dedicated to your education than getting their next fix? What happens to people whose parents aren't smart enough to home-school them, who can't afford to take the time, who are addicts? There are different levels of privilege, and there are convergences in these; a poor, black transwoman prostitute has it much worse than, say, a poor, white man in terms of ability to raise themselves out of 'their lot in life'.


"was homeschooled" is not quite the same thing as having parents who are smart and who put lots of time and money into educating you. It certainly can be, true, and in plenty of cases is. This is not particularly the case for the folks well on the fundie side of things, who are homeschooling not because they're well educated and can do it better, but are doing it for purely religious reasons. In my particular case, I've got parents who were wildly creationist, and thus, didn't bother to teach science, for instance. Are there people anywhere who had it rougher than me? I'm sure of it...but I doubt I was particularly privileged when compared to the rest of the country on average.

I, obviously, do not support parents making their kids into addicts or prostitutes. If you choose those paths yourself, well...you should not be shocked when certain difficulties arise as a result. Kids being people, not property, they have rights too, and their rights are no less important than their parents. Given enough neglect, you can absolutely make the case that people should no longer have custody of their children.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:14 pm UTC

You can object to anything you wish, as long as you play by the rules, while those rules exist. But the ability to hold your point of view is, part and parcel, a result of the society you live in, whatever it's faults. Whatever purpose public education serves, it exists because most people want it to. Everything that exists, from social security, to medicare to the defense establishment, has happened because people wanted it or saw it as addressing a problem. The modern welfare state as you know it, has only come into being in the last hundred years. As long as we were an agrarian society some of the things you want worked. But they worked because there was room to move. We are long past that point.

I am perfectly willing to have the modern medical establishment go off the public tit. Do you have any idea off what that would entail? That would mean no public funding anywhere for anything related to medicine. No support to schools. No funding for any type. No subsidized loans for doctor wannabees. No public Hospitals. Hospitals have become so numerous because the sugar daddy you call the welfare state gives them money. Without those funds a significant number would fail outright. Rural hospitals are struggling now as the Government cuts back. It would be interesting to see how the economy would fare if you could pull it off.

I'm also willing to shut down public funding for education. But only if you mean all of it. No state Universities, zero funding for schools period. I'm quite certain that if we only did those two things that we could eliminate the deficit at both state and local levels . Property taxes could be done away with. What would you keep and what would you get rid of?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby HungryHobo » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I'm also willing to shut down public funding for education. But only if you mean all of it. No state Universities, zero funding for schools period. I'm quite certain that if we only did those two things that we could eliminate the deficit at both state and local levels . Property taxes could be done away with. What would you keep and what would you get rid of?


Don't forget to include the added costs of the camps you'll need to be herding all those usless,landless, assetless, sick, uneducated, hopeless poor people into to make sure they don't riot or cause other problems in the nice parts of town and mess up your lawn.

You need to fund the guards, guard towers, fences, ammo, it gets expensive. You can save on food by letting them get hungry enough to prey on each other and then you can make back even more of the cost by filming the results and turning it into a reality TV show.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Torchship » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:56 pm UTC

Vince_Right wrote:Correct, agree. What fundamental right is violated thought by not providing education? Where does that right come from?
The point is socialist ideas lead to "I want something"; "I convince the government to support this"; "The government makes someone else pay". That is not a right, on the contrary.


The right to education. It's probably one of the most widely accepted rights in the world, given that it's in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Vince_Right wrote:Agree on: "responsibility for the consequences of a person's actions"
Where on: lack of actions from a person, I'm a lot more mitigated. Look at concepts like bounded rationality, we have to focus on what we can handle, it might be morally better (and I believe so) to help others, but it is not our responsibility.


Oh certainly, ability to affect the problem affects potential blame to a large extent. However, this is clearly not a case where society lacks the ability to act; a public education system has been supported by the state for many decades without significant problem.

Tyndmyr wrote:Not at all. Price fixing by welfare and mandated treatment of those unable to pay result in costs being passed along to those of us who can pay. I recently got quotes for a medical procedure, and as they noted that some policies don't cover it...I got a quote for if I didn't have insurance. Turns out it did...so I got the insurance quote as well, and it ended up being several times higher. In short, people with insurance are subsidizing those without...people with medicare are paying a third price, which may or may not match either or the other two, and costs aren't really being assigned anything like fairly. That's going to result in non-optimal consumption of services.


I'm not entirely sure where you're going with this. As far as I can tell, you're complaining that the US's pseudo-universal healthcare system is pseudo-universal; it offers service to (more-or-less) anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. I specifically stated that universal healthcare has been done better and cheaper elsewhere (Israel, the UK) which is not affected in the slightest by what you've said here. The only relevant point is that of medical research, however I doubt this accounts for the several thousand dollar per capita difference between the UK and US systems.

Tyndmyr wrote:$50k is indeed a reasonable salary for the national average. It was included solely because I was asked to demonstrate that the reduction of taxation would benefit the middle and upper classes. That's a fair request, since the middle class is statistically a pretty big deal for our society.

I do not contest that some people in lower incomes may be worse off in a system without as many safety nets and social programs. However, I believe that reduced costs makes these cutbacks more manageable, even for them, and benefit a majority of society. In the long term, improving society will improve even the lot of the poor folks. You'll always have those with less cash, but being poor in America now is very different from being poor in America a hundred years ago.


Why do you believe that a loss of all public services will magically leave the poor in any fit state and why do you believe that society will equally magically continue on without them? I have already shown that 25% of the population cannot afford something as trivial as sending their (singular, able-bodied) child to school under a privatised education system; in what dreamland does this lead to a lower class that can interact with other classes as anything other than cheap, unskilled labour? How will the rest of society be better off when the vast numbers highly productive professionals that originate in the lower and lower-middle classes disappear? You claim that "costs will be reduced" and "the middle class will be better off" without in any way substantiating these claims. You've handwaved your way out of addressing this point several times now, and I see no point in continuing this discussion if you are going to refuse to answer even the most basic questions about how your system plans to deal with the issues that it causes.

The very fact that the poor are (comparatively) highly supported by society is the primary reason that the modern lower classes are so much better off than those of the past; appealing to this difference as though it's independent of the level of support provided by society makes no sense in this context.

Tyndmyr wrote:What do you mean, "fundamental rights"? Under what possible system of rights do they have a right to having their lifestyle subsidized with my funds? This is *especially* true for the subsidization of large families.


This one.

Tyndmyr wrote:Availability is not strictly binary. Is the ability to download all the information used to teach a course at Berkley as good as attending Berkley? Of course not. Is it better than not having access to that information at all? Of course!

Most people don't entirely self-educate, but the mere availability of wikipedia and google, for example, have led to many people doing at least some self-education on topics that interest them. This is absolutely a significant improvement over prior eras.


And? How does this address anything I said? You have totally failed to show that self-education is in any way an adequate replacement for the modern education system, and until you do so, I shall continue to reject your unfounded assertions.

Tyndmyr wrote:The original data appears to be derived from the report at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/ ... 09_059.asp

And yes, it is average tuition charged to students. A great many private schools receive funds from charity, religious organizations, alumni, and yes, in some cases, government. Only the last one needs to be cut. It is not essential that the student's family bear the entire cost...only that government does not.


Alumni are an adequate solution for only a tiny minority of schools; a poor inner-city school could never hope to draw the kind of wealthy support base necessary to significantly decrease costs. Charity is clearly insufficient; the US's charitable giving would have to increase by a factor of two in order to support the US education system.
Religious donations is the only one of your alternatives that seem to be a plausible support structure, and indeed we observe a factor of ~3 difference between the amount charged by religious and non-religious private schools; the non-religious schools charge essentially the same amount as public education costs the state. Of course, allowing religious dominion over education is a completely ethically repulsive "solution"; if a lower class parent wishes their child to have any kind of opportunity in life, they must take them to a religious institution to be educated. It's like the middle ages all over again.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby leady » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:00 pm UTC

There are some great stats out there if you look about the effectiveness of government programmes on the bottom deciles in society.

Effectively after 12 years of expensive schooling under the current system their educational outcomes are practically identical to no schooling (miniscule literacy rates etc). Also under most public heathcare systems (e.g. medicade) there is practically nil effect on their basic life outcomes (birth weights, cancer survival rates) compared to no health coverage.

Public services helping the poorest in society is very close to being a myth - what they really seem to be is an overpriced middle class comfort blanket.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:08 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:You can object to anything you wish, as long as you play by the rules, while those rules exist. But the ability to hold your point of view is, part and parcel, a result of the society you live in, whatever it's faults. Whatever purpose public education serves, it exists because most people want it to. Everything that exists, from social security, to medicare to the defense establishment, has happened because people wanted it or saw it as addressing a problem. The modern welfare state as you know it, has only come into being in the last hundred years. As long as we were an agrarian society some of the things you want worked. But they worked because there was room to move. We are long past that point.


There are more types of society than agrarian and post-agrarian. The industrial age was remarkably different from the modern information age. Just because it addressed a problem years ago, and was popular at the time doesn't mean it's effective.

Hell, some things that are currently popular are not effective. Currently popular ideas include such elements as obstructing gay marriage. I fail to see how that's a public good that the government should concern itself with.

I am perfectly willing to have the modern medical establishment go off the public tit. Do you have any idea off what that would entail? That would mean no public funding anywhere for anything related to medicine. No support to schools. No funding for any type. No subsidized loans for doctor wannabees. No public Hospitals. Hospitals have become so numerous because the sugar daddy you call the welfare state gives them money. Without those funds a significant number would fail outright. Rural hospitals are struggling now as the Government cuts back. It would be interesting to see how the economy would fare if you could pull it off.

I'm also willing to shut down public funding for education. But only if you mean all of it. No state Universities, zero funding for schools period. I'm quite certain that if we only did those two things that we could eliminate the deficit at both state and local levels . Property taxes could be done away with. What would you keep and what would you get rid of?


First off, all changes will have to be gradual. Can't go from 100% funding of student loans to 0% in a year...the market doesn't respond instantly, so you'll need a draw-down period to minimize transition costs. Really, this should be a concern in basically any societal change of note, but hey...world ain't perfect.

I'd start with a phased legalization approach to drugs. Legalize one(starting with fairly low-impact ones like pot), and study the effects. It's likely that some will never be able to be legalized reasonably(PCP, etc), but we can probably reduce the ban list, and decrease prison costs.

Do a bit of defense cutting. I like defense, of course, but there are diminishing returns, and I'd like to reduce foreign involvement somewhat. It needs to exist, but a few dollars can definitely be saved. Dept of Homeland security would be axed entirely, for instance. I won't miss the TSA at all.

In med, I'd phase out medicare. This would have to be among the slower phase-outs, since the timeframe of a life is longer than say, that of attending college. People plan for retirement for much longer than they do for college, so you need a correspondingly slower shift away from it. Social security is going to be extremely similar for the same reasons. I would reduce the "must serve all comers" aspect of hospitals. They would eventually be allowed to refuse emergency services to people who have repeatedly not paid bills over a lengthy period of time. Burden of proof for non-payment falls on hospital for obvious reasons. This will absolutely result in a few additional deaths, regardless of the transition speed, as some people make a practice out of this and won't change until it entirely ceases to be an option. This is an acceptable loss, as long term, it leads to emergency room services being focused on people actually in need of emergency care. Some hospitals, like the great many that are religiously funded in the US, will probably continue to use charity instead of doing this. That's fine, free country.

College subsidies draw down, and go away(loans first, then grants). Public education likewise(I would also be ok with an entirely standardized federal-only primary education system, oddly enough. It's not popular among libertarians, but it would still be a vast improvement over the status quo).

Roads would be among the least changed things. We need roads sufficient for remaining government services to get their things done(especially defense), and if the road network's here anyway...you might as well utilize it as best as you can. There may be optimization possible in this regard, but that's a matter for engineers specializing in this field, not me.

Unemployment would be cut to a loan system. You can borrow a bit to get back on your feet, but there are limits, and non-payment would mean you'll eventually be denied benefits until you repay.

Currency would be mostly unchanged. I'd probably just make the fed an actual government institution, since it basically acts as one. However, I'd focus on limiting inflation as a matter of fiscal policy.

I'd also sell off rather a lot of public land. This would reduce maint costs for the government, and also increase the property tax base for whatever remaining property tax there is. Taxes would likely still not be zero under this system, but they would be significantly lower. I'd go to a pure flat tax, ideally. In some cases, this is actually an improvement for the lower classes, as many current taxes are surprisingly regressive. Deductions would no longer be a thing. As a happy side effect, the tax preparation industry would become unnecessary.

There would be a general striving to remove old, outdated laws from the books. Clean up and reduce IP law. Ditch as many of those ancient sin taxes or other religiously motivated laws as possible.

Protectionist policies for things like corn farming and the like would be phased out fairly rapidly.

Torchship wrote:
Vince_Right wrote:Correct, agree. What fundamental right is violated thought by not providing education? Where does that right come from?
The point is socialist ideas lead to "I want something"; "I convince the government to support this"; "The government makes someone else pay". That is not a right, on the contrary.


The right to education. It's probably one of the most widely accepted rights in the world, given that it's in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Why is that list of things "rights"? What philosophical concept do they derive from, or does this merely happen to be a list of desirable things?

I'm not entirely sure where you're going with this. As far as I can tell, you're complaining that the US's pseudo-universal healthcare system is pseudo-universal; it offers service to (more-or-less) anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. I specifically stated that universal healthcare has been done better and cheaper elsewhere (Israel, the UK) which is not affected in the slightest by what you've said here. The only relevant point is that of medical research, however I doubt this accounts for the several thousand dollar per capita difference between the UK and US systems.


Israel and the UK are not the US. We're vastly demographically different, and demand very different things from our government. For one thing, we're fat as hell because we eat terribly, and this is obviously a severe issue medically. Type 2 diabetes, for instance, is a severe issue. This sort of thing goes deeper than public vs privatized. In the end, we need to stop subsidizing terrible food and encourage personal responsibility to be healthy.

Why do you believe that a loss of all public services will magically leave the poor in any fit state and why do you believe that society will equally magically continue on without them?


It won't. Many poor people(let's say, bottom quadrant) will probably be worse off initially, even with the lower taxes. Some of them will plan ahead/be motivated by upcoming changes, and work hard to avoid them. Most, however, will not. However, as society as a whole is growing more efficient, average wealth will rise faster, and technology will see increased advancement. This will be disproportionately allocated to the not-poor, of course, but they will see some improvement. Therefore, over time, even the lowest classes will eventually be better off that if we continued in our current system.

How will society continue on without them? It already does. The unemployed/minimum wage workers are not a scarce commodity.

I have already shown that 25% of the population cannot afford something as trivial as sending their (singular, able-bodied) child to school under a privatised education system; in what dreamland does this lead to a lower class that can interact with other classes as anything other than cheap, unskilled labour? How will the rest of society be better off when the vast numbers highly productive professionals that originate in the lower and lower-middle classes disappear? You claim that "costs will be reduced" and "the middle class will be better off" without in any way substantiating these claims. You've handwaved your way out of addressing this point several times now, and I see no point in continuing this discussion if you are going to refuse to answer even the most basic questions about how your system plans to deal with the issues that it causes.


Primary education, they can afford. They will not attend the average priced schools, but the cheaper schools. The 10k+/year private schools? Rich people will be the only folks attending those, just like now. No change there, really.

And hey, even with current public schooling, poor areas trend significantly to poorer public school systems. Our current system is already nothing like a fair shot. Beating that is...not hard.

College prices have vastly outstripped...basically everything for ages now. Increased subsidies leads to increased costs in a never-ending feedback loop. College has become basically all about the money, and we need to go back to a system in which poorly performing colleges actually do go bankrupt and are removed from the system, and tuition doesn't put you in debt for most of your life. If the lower classes wish to attend these colleges, they can do so, but will likely work as they do. Decreasing overall cost of tuition is perhaps a net boon for the lower classes, as right now, they are most adversely affected by the vast amounts of debt, and especially if they fail to graduate, are saddled with a crippling amount of debt that can't even be shed via bankruptcy.

The very fact that the poor are (comparatively) highly supported by society is the primary reason that the modern lower classes are so much better off than those of the past; appealing to this difference as though it's independent of the level of support provided by society makes no sense in this context.


Nope. Diminishing costs to produce necessities is the #1 reason why the poor are better off. In the thirties, food alone occupied about 25% of the average budget. Now, it's about 9.5%, the cheapest in history. Starvation is inherently going to be more rare when food is cheap and plentiful.

And? How does this address anything I said? You have totally failed to show that self-education is in any way an adequate replacement for the modern education system, and until you do so, I shall continue to reject your unfounded assertions.


I've never asserted that self-education is a complete replacement for public education. Merely that self-education is easier and more effective now than it has been throughout history. Private education will likely continue to be the primary method of education, but self-education is an entirely valid option for those who are motivated and seeking to better themselves.

Alumni are an adequate solution for only a tiny minority of schools; a poor inner-city school could never hope to draw the kind of wealthy support base necessary to significantly decrease costs. Charity is clearly insufficient; the US's charitable giving would have to increase by a factor of two in order to support the US education system.


And again, the sizable cost differential between private and public schools is critical. We're not funding the public system through donation, we'd be funding the private one. Donations alone won't cover the entire cost, true, but they will defray the expense.

Religious donations is the only one of your alternatives that seem to be a plausible support structure, and indeed we observe a factor of ~3 difference between the amount charged by religious and non-religious private schools; the non-religious schools charge essentially the same amount as public education costs the state. Of course, allowing religious dominion over education is a completely ethically repulsive "solution"; if a lower class parent wishes their child to have any kind of opportunity in life, they must take them to a religious institution to be educated. It's like the middle ages all over again.


I'm not particularly fond of religion myself, being an atheist, but I can't deny that religious institutions do donate a great deal of money to education and other worthy causes. That, in itself, is not a bad thing. Instead of limiting their ability to offer free or inexpensive education, I would suggest that those who take issue with the system can also volunteer time or money for whatever schools or causes they consider important.

In addition, we can probably expect charitable giving to climb a little as taxes decrease. The sort of person who tithes or whatever is going to give proportionately more when he has more take home pay. This isn't going to double charity revenues or anything, but it is a reasonably predictable beneficial outcome of lower taxation, and it all helps. I anticipate that religious schools will, like religious hospitals, continue to be a major part of our society for some time. They'd almost have to be, religious people are a major part of our society. If you dislike a religion, convince the people to change, don't get the government to make them change.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:30 pm UTC

However, as society as a whole is growing more efficient, average wealth will rise faster, and technology will see increased advancement.

How do you know this? Historically, the extreme wealth and technological advances of modernity coincided with the largest, most comprehensive governmental organizations ever. The relation between those things is enormously complex, but it seems a clear warning that you cant just posit advances from simplifying government. The world used to be full of simpler and less invasive governments the current ones. It's exactly their money and technology that made modern states such attractive models and fearsome enemies that they displaced the more limited alternatives.

Perhaps a night watch state can be combined with modern society and its attractions, but that is speculation. Let alone a magic improvement to counteract the downsides of your plans.


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