JonScholar wrote:Your criteria seems to be getting more and more distinct. Now the argument is no longer that social infrastructure is justified only in the cases of nonrival, nonexcludable goods, but that infrastructure is only justified in the cases of nonrival, nonexcludable goods that are "predominantly localized."
I apologize for being unclear: what I meant by "predominately localized" is that the benefits are predominately rival and excludable- local in that they cannot be shared, and only one person (or a small group) can enjoy them.
JonScholar wrote:Then it sounds like the anarchists are the ones being logically consistent. If we accept a priori that all coercion backed by violence is negative, then why would you settle for only mimizing it when you could completely eliminate it?
A plan that works perfectly on paper but fails on implementation is of negative value.
Malice wrote:My point is simply that these things can be quantified, and more accurately than the "invisible hand" of the market.
This is an empirical question, and it is pretty strongly settled in the favor of markets. Think of the market not as an entity but as a method, not as a hand but as an adding machine. A market whose participants have no knowledge cannot do any better than those participants. What markets are good for is by taking people with vast specialized knowledge and compressing and aggregating their knowledge into small pieces of information that can be easily shared and used. Instead of limiting the whole to the knowledge and decision-making ability of a few, it more fully utilizes the whole's knowledge and decision-making ability.
Malice wrote:in order for it to work, you need a little bit of selflessness in there--a few people who can bend the system not to their needs but to the needs of those who can't speak loud enough for themselves. The vast majority of society will say "fuck the little guy, I need to make rent this month", and that attitude keeps the economy running and rents low, but at some point society needs to collectively say "here's a little something for you, little guy."
I agree with you that a society of Objectivists would probably be a terrible place to live. But a system that needs to be bent in order to accommodate selflessness is not a good system if you care about selflessness. If the vast majority of people are saying "fuck the little guy," the last
thing you want is for resources to be allocated by popular vote. Class warfare never comes out in favor of the poorest and the weakest.
Malice wrote:I believe that in a sense we elect a government partly to put that moral responsibility on somebody else.
I suspect that conservatives believe differently because they behave differently
Malice wrote:Not when the auction is for food, or health care, or shelter for those who need it and can't get it.
None of those things are binary. I have a healthy enough diet that costs me $2 a day. The average benefit per person for food stamps is about $4
. If they lowered the benefit to $3 a day, it seems unlikely that recipients would starve, though likely that their meal quality would decrease. Likewise, if the benefit was raised to $5 a day, it seems unlikely that many people would not starve because of the increase, but likely that that their meal quality would increase. If the conversation is about quality of food instead of starvation, does it have the same moral weight? We either need to separate out need and want, or simply eliminate need from the conversation. I consider it unlikely that needs will go unmet because of a lack of charitable giving (but likely that needs will go unmet for other reasons).
Malice wrote:It does seem like a clear, common-sense correlation though
Malice wrote:when parents want an abortion because they can't afford a child or don't want a child, those children can grow up poor and badly parented, which are (I believe) proven to be correlated with criminal activity.
In America, the young mothers that opt for abortions instead of child-rearing are more likely to be middle class and choosing college instead of a baby. "Wantedness" is not as significant as the other factors, and so even if unwantedness increases criminality when you control for other factors abortion does not control for other factors.
Malice wrote:I'm not condoning what they do; but I think we should attempt to understand their perspective before we decry it.
Good on you.
omgryebread wrote:How does classical liberalism deal with the free rider problem?
Many ways. I'll mention a few short sketches, but you can dig about as deep as you want on this issue. One is skepticism about the scope of the problem. Music piracy exists, but music is still made and bands still put food on the table.
One other suggestion is that, as behavioral economists are eager to point out, homo sapiens
is not homo economicus
. People can be induced by way of status or emotion to not free ride, even if it is otherwise costless to do so.
Another way is to question whether there is a better option. It may be that the existence of the free rider problem is a tax imposed by reality on public goods, and that attempts to circumvent that tax end up doing more harm than good (the builders of those public goods may inflate promises of the benefits at the expense of the payers for those goods).
omgryebread wrote:So if some charity should provide financial assistance for abortion, but no one is obligated to provide money to those charities, in my understanding of game theory and other examples of the problem (like blood donation), not enough people would provide the money to provide those abortions.
This issue is, to some degree, self-balancing. If not enough abortions are funded, then people who actually care will pull out their wallets and fund some abortions (remember, this is a tautology
by the definition of 'actually care'). If that's not enough to fund all abortions, then society has more important priorities.
But there's another more important issue, which has to do with how donations map to results. If someone is collecting money to build a highway that you would use but you think the subway will get built even if you don't give money, you have a strong incentive to say "only ask me if you don't get enough funding from everyone else" because the highway isn't granular. It either gets built or it doesn't, and you only benefit in the rare case where you make a difference. But with charities that give away private goods, they make a large number of small differences. If you mail a check for $450 to Planned Parenthood, they can fund an additional abortion (doing that once a year is less expensive than going to the movies every week), regardless of what everyone else does.
omgryebread wrote:There's no market mechanism I can think of to find the optimal amount of money available for abortions in the same way that there are market mechanisms to find the optimal price for a commodity.
This is true. The general rule is that customers are better than donors who are better than voters. The problem is that the last phrase of that is really important- if one wants to argue that donors aren't good enough to deal with the issue, then one shouldn't expect voters to be good enough to deal with the issue. Voters are generally choosing a package deal from a much smaller range of options and have no rational reason to expect their choice has an impact, encouraging voting for emotional identification rather than for good policies.
*Instead, we just pay them to have children.
**One could insist that we then make all contraceptives free, but that can lead to other problems
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