MinotaurWarrior wrote:The first definition of fault on dictionary.com is: "a defect or imperfection." Being less intelligent than Einstein is an imperfection of mine.
Wrong definition of fault -- like many words, it has many definitions that are specific to certain uses. The definition we are concerned with here is the 2nd definition
:fault: [mass noun] responsibility for an accident or misfortune
Yes, it can be a synonym for blame, but I made it clear which definition I was using by talking about both blame and fault. My lack of super-genius is, as I said, my fault but not something I can be blamed for.
folkhero wrote:And the argument that libertarians want the poor to go without treatment is quite disingenuous. Do you think that it's the role of the U.S. or U.K. governments to provide medical care to those in Sudan who can't afford to pay for it themselves. If not, then by your own logic, don't you want to abandon sick people to their fate? As an Arizonan, should I feel compelled to support the medial care of someone in Baltimore more than someone in Omdurman?
It is most definitely our responsibility, as people with more (economic) power, to care for those who don't have as much.
That responsibility is stronger when it comes to people closer to us, because of how the human psyche works.
You can disagree on the degree of this responsibility, but to disagree with the principle would be properly inhuman
I'd disagree that disagreeing with the principle makes you inhuman
, but that's besides the point. You can be Libertarian and still thing that the rich should give to the poor. All that even the most extreme form of Libertarianism says is that the government should never forcefully take from the rich to give to the poor. That still allows for rich people to give to the poor.
nitePhyyre wrote:You are associated with everyone in your country; you all share a nation. All of the nation has an interest in your well-being. Healthy members of society have much higher outputs than the sick (or dead). It literally is good for the public at large. How would it not be a public good? By what logic is it a private good?
First, take the case of the elderly and irrevocably disabled. Under the current system, it's actually in my best interest to have every single elderly or disabled person I don't personally care about die, all else being equal. They provide nothing for me, and my tax dollars are spent on them. Now, I really hope I don't need to explain my reasons for being against the killing of the old and disabled, but my opposition to their deaths certainly doesn't come from an interest in their well-being.
Similarly, If I were a purely derivative street performer in LA, who never created any innovative contribution to the performing arts, and never would, my well-being would only effect the life of a citizen of North Dakota marginally more than the flapping of a butterfly's wings. The same might be said for the relationship between a videogame designer's health, and the well-being of a non-gamer. Not everyone's well-being is a good for everyone, and that's why I think health isn't a public good.
On the other hand, I do believe that my health is a private good for more persons than myself. You're right that most people benefit greatly from the continuing welfare of others. I just think that, ideally, it'd only be those who actually wanted me to be healthy who payed for my health.
MinotaurWarrior wrote:...but as I understand it the Ronpaul has personally provided free medical care to many people without government coercion, and even in that clip you provided you can catch a glimpse of his real point: people often make a false equivalency between a good healthcare system, and government intervention in the healthcare system, ignoring the fact that the private sector is also capable of intervening to do stuff like save a child's life.
The thing is though, the US has basically the highest child mortality rate of any western nation. Sure the private sector is capable of intervening. It doesn't.
With a lot of those statistics though, I wonder how much of it is our messed-up system, and how much of it is because of other differences. For example, the average population density of the US is 34.01 people /km^2, compared to Europe, with 69.85 people /km^2 (wikipedia). I recently took a road trip from Eastern Pennsylvania to Illinois, and one of the freakiest things you'll see on the way through America are signs indicating how far away the nearest hospital is.
Still, I won't deny that the Private sector does less than it can, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Like I said before, I think that if you want to create a functioning Libertarian state, you need to change both the public and private sectors.
MinotaurWarrior wrote:I believe that there are free-market solutions that would allow poor persons similar or better access to healthcare than they have now. If you want to get into it on that issue, I'd be willing to enter that debate, but I feel that there's a chance that could be viewed as a large de-railing of the thread.
I'm no mod, but at this point we are galaxies away from being on-topic. I'd actually be interested in how you would come up with a free market solution to healthcare. Something that would produce results as good as let's say the NHS, or France, or Japan.
1st, I think that if we cut back on corporatism (which is different from capitalism), and made our government less involved in the medical business, there would be global improvements in health, as the price of medical stuff such as drugs would drop, because the government frequently intervenes on the side of the "big guys".
But the second part basically comes down to the human capacity to not pointlessly act like D-bags, even when uncoerced. On the involved-party-payer side, you have (as I said earlier) a lot of people who are interested in your continuing health and would want to invest in it. On the third party payer side, other nations (Switzerland is one, iirc) have shown that non-profit insurance companies are, in many ways, better at being an insurance company than are for-profit insurance companies. Things that are better can survive in a free market. Then you've got stuff like charity. Basically, the way I'd like to see things handled would be that freely associated communities of those mutually interested in one another's health would pool together and create large medical savings funds, and maybe hire some people to manage that fund if it was large enough (they'd do the stuff insurance company employees do), forming something like a non-nationalized, non-monopolized version of the (iirc) Swiss system.
Especially considering that a large part of free market philosophy is comparison shopping to get the best quality/price. Good luck doing that when you are being airlifted to the nearest hospital, and you would die by the time it takes you to get the the second closest, cheaper, hospital.
Well, that's just a case of location being the most valuable quality. I'd also like to by obsidian from a volcanic region, where it's cheaper, but if I want some obsidian goods for some reason, I'm just going to have to admit that it's not worth flying to Hawaii to pick up a novelty item. But you're right that the monopoly power of some hospitals can be a real issue. I'm not sure how I'd want that handled.
Well, I don't think the government is what's responsible for the less wealthy demanding Y+B. I think that they are the ones currently responsible for part of that collective negotiation, but I don't think they're the only ones capable of it. If the markets were carefully freed up, and the role of collective negotiating body was passed over to, say, unions formed by free associations between citizens with common private interests, Y+B would still be demanded (it's not like senators invented peoples' demand to not watch their children starve), and X+A could still be provided, but only those parties that are actually directly invested in the dealing would control it, which, I believe, would introduce greater efficiency. If we just carelessly got rid of the government's current role in things, without making sure there was a free-market solution ready to take its place, I fully recognize that we'd be screwed, but I believe it's possible to transfer these things to free-market agencies.
We already have this exact system. The union's name is 'Government'.
The key difference would be that there would be unions
, plural, and they'd only be formed by the actually involved parties.
MinotaurWarrior wrote:including unionization (something I do support as an option)
I'm not sure how exactly you think unionization can possibly help here. The employer can simply make it that the terms of your employment are that you can't join a union. It's currently illegal at the moment, sure, but that's a clear example of government interference in the free market, preventing people from signing whatever kinds of contracts that they want...
Basically, I think that certain rights should be unalienable by any sort of organized body, not just what we call "government". Free speech and free association are two of those rights, except in certain corner cases (If you're a spokesperson, you're employer can require that you say stuff. The Humane Society of America can require that members not be a part of The Inhumane Society of Americans against Kittens and Pupies. Slander and Treason are always illegal. Et Cetera).
MinotaurWarrior wrote:non-profit organizations ("charities" and otherwise)
It's not at all obvious to me that NGOs are going to be significantly better at alleviating poverty than government. NGOs are uncoordinated, meaning that there may be duplicate charities covering the same service, while others might not get covered at all. There is no guarantee that this service will be filled, because the market in charities is on the donor side, not on the receiver side. Moreover, the distribution of funds going into NGOs is neither stable nor proportional to the magnitude of the problem that they're trying to solve, but rather to the effectiveness of the charity's fundraising campaign. A charity trying to promote literacy among poor inner-city children may be significantly underfunded compared to the "Save the cuddly baby seal" charity. An efficient centrally planned system avoids many of these sorts of problems.
Generally speaking, charities suck, I'll agree with that. Charities sell feelings of goodness and virtue, not results. Still, they have their role to play in providing those feelings and some good things.
However, charities aren't the only possible form of NGO, especially if contract law got freed up a bit. Basically, poverty isn't just bad for the poor. It can host contagious disease, promote crime, and waste human lives. People have good, private reasons to want it gone. For example, consider the potential of an organization that offered free education to poor adults who scored sufficiently well on a test, in exchange for either working for either the program or its sponsors for X years, or owing Y percent of his or her income to the program or its sponsors for Z years. Or you could have a project to clean up a poorer area funded by business owners who wanted to improve their profits in the area / create new locations in the area, or any number of things like that. Some people have a vested interest in seeing poverty end, and that group isn't limited to the poor themselves.
As for childhood literacy, and other childhood stuff, as I said before, I think that children are a special case, and maintaining a certain level of well-being for them is the responsibility of the state by default. Children certainly aren't responsible for themselves, and we don't let people own other people, so I don't think parents can be 100% in charge of or responsible for their kids.
MinotaurWarrior wrote:Well, first off, there is the simple principle of the crowding-out effect. I can't provide any figures for it (it's always a difficult thing to show), but I'm sure that some doctors who treat the poor and are compensated by the government would, in some cases, have provided those same services free of charge. I'm sure it's not a huge phenomenon (certainly, we know for a fact that programs like medicare have increased the number of poor who receive healthcare services), but it probably does happen. At the very least, I know that I have relatives in medical professions who claim this is the case for them. The government doesn't need to be actively preventing charity to reduce it.
Again, how do you deal with the distribution problem? If a community in Detroit needs more doctors and can't afford them, but the doctors who are willing to donate their time live in Los Angeles, how do you match the need with the volunteer?
A free market in volunteerism.
That expensive treatment only extended his life slightly, and probably greatly reduced his quality of life. If, instead of having the government pay for his medical care, he had simply received more money, he would have been able to use that money to much greater effect, by purchasing things he actually wanted. Under the current system, elected and appointed officials decide for other people what is in their best interest, based purely on generalizations and best guesses. They use the very best generalizations they can, but generalizations are all they can use. The beneficiaries of these programs then live in a distorted world, where certain things are much cheaper than they would otherwise be (medical care is the prime example), and other things they might prefer to medical care are more expensive relative to their wealth than they would be if they had control of their share of the resources being spent on their behalf. This decreases total utility.
I'm not saying the system is perfect, but I could just as easily flip this type of example around, looking at the situation where you have, say, a drug-addict parent with an ill, dependent child, who, upon receiving the extra money from the government, rather than spending it on care for the child, funnels it back into their drug addiction. I suppose this might increase utility for the parent, but certainly not for the child.
Children are a special case. In a similar case, where, say, the mother buys drugs for herself instead of treating her own illness, I honestly have no problem with her choice.
Some of the things government does are outright evil. My priorities would probably be something like: environmental issues, war, general disentanglement of government and big business (getting rid of oil subsidies, tax loopholes, et cetera), free trade, immigration / emigration (make it easier), regulatory agency reform (generally favoring consumer warnings & education over bans), expanding free association & ability to make contracts (make more sorts of agreements legal), transferring welfare programs to the private sector, drugs, marriage (abolish it as a legal institution. Marry whomever you want), and other miscellany (loosening up on professional licensing, disentangling from holidays, et cetera)
I wouldn't consider myself a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I agree with most of those things. The problem is that the brand of libertarianism that you seem to advocate is very different from those of many other libertarians you're likely to run across. The the Ronpaul's of the world, for example, tend to argue for abolishing income taxes, gutting environmental protections, restricting immigration, supporting oil and gas subsidies (he has voted against elimination of various tax credits for oil and gas, for example), elimination of government healthcare plans and social security, etc.
Whenever almost anyone says "freedom", what they mean is "the freedom to do what I
want, even if I need to take away the freedom of others to do it" I'm aware of this, but that doesn't make me any less a fan of the liberty ideal. Though I should note that the Ronpaul actually has a sort of weird view on immigration (basically, screw illegal immigrants, but immigration should be easier than it is now, iirc), and I do agree that eventually the government should step out of healthcare.