Monday, May 28, 2012

Say three "outrageous" left-wing things a day

I'm pulling on my Dave Spart hat for this one...

Look across the North Sea and you find Scandanavian countries doing well, economically, socially, artistically and in many other ways. They are riding out the economic storm much better than we. They also have excellent free-health care, maternity and paternity benefits, free university education, free schooling, and so on. Every child gets the same spent on its education in Sweden - you can't buy your kid a leg-up through private schooling. Finland has a fully comprehensive school system (no selection before age 16) which produces some of the best-educated children in the world. These countries have high rates of social mobility as a result (very much higher, ironically, than the "land of opportunity" USA, which should perhaps now be relabelled "land of least opportunity").

But Scandanavian taxes are very high.

We used to have some of these same State-funded benefits too, of course, but even what we had is being slowly dismantled by successive Tory regimes. And Labour too, to some extent. The current Government is accelerating the demolition job. At the same time as the dismantling has gone on, economic inequality has also increased enormously.

What I find interesting is the way in which the economic and social arguments in favour of continued movement in this direction pan out. The justification is almost always economic - we need to get real and recognize that the economy needs "rebalancing" (but not in the Swedish direction, of course!). Private good, public bad. Competition always improves services. Cut taxes on the rich and the wealth will "trickle down". Tax them more and talent will leave the country. There's a whole industry devoted to the production and dissemination of this kind of right-wing apologetic, and while there may be some truth to some of it, most of it appears to be cut-and-paste slogans people have learned to repeat without thinking too much about them.

What's really driving economic policies that endlessly erode tax-funded State provision? Apply the cui bono test. Ask - to whose benefit? Scratch below the surface and answer is almost always the same: the wealthiest top 1% and big business.

However, over the last few decades it has become hard to say these things in public, and even harder to say something "outrageous" like "Why not renationalize the railways?" (which cost taxpayers far than they did when nationalized) or "Why not tax 90% above £500Kpa?" The reason is that the right-wing have largely captured the cultural zeitgeist. Say something fairly left-wing and you'll find people roll their eyes and imply you're a silly, outdated, naive fool. And so we lefties self-censor. We don't dare say what we think anymore.

However, we now have a five- or ten-year window of opportunity. Across much of the country, the penny is beginning to drop that (i) the Tories are, in fact, little more than a machine for manipulating the economy to the benefit of the top 1% and Big Business, that (ii) these wealthy elites are to a very significant extent controlling our Governments - even Labour Governments - and our media in their own interests, and (to a lesser extent) that (iii) decent State pensions, free university education, decent State schools and excellent, free healthcare are, actually, affordable and compatible with a successful economy.

As a result we might, for a little while, be able to shift public opinion enough to  reverse much of - no let's be ambitious: all of - what has happened over the last few decades and take Britain significantly in the direction of the successful and equitable Scandanavian model.

In France, Hollande was able to get elected with a promise to tax the rich significantly more (75%) only because another candidate, Melenchon, started saying out loud "Let's tax 100% above E473K". Given the price-anchoring effect, Melenchon's 100% figure suddenly made Hollande's 75% look quite reasonable, when previously it would have seemed outrageous.

So, in short, we lefties need to stop self-censoring. We need to take back the zeitgeist. Make a point of saying three "outrageous" left-wing things a day, out loud, in public. If we all start doing it, the country's cultural and political centre of gravity will start to shift, and the Labour party might eventually be prepared to stick its head above the parapet and take some effective action.

Takes some courage, though, doesn't it?

(Cue eye-rolling and poo-pooing...)

33 comments:

Mark Mitchell said...

The point about losing the ability to talk seriously about this kind of stuff is discussed very effectively by the late Tony Judt, in his final (short and highly recommended) book:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ill-Fares-Land-Treatise-Discontents/dp/0718191412/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338209859&sr=1-2

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Mark - it's now on my list.

The Atheist Missionary said...

It all comes down to how you define "the rich", what level of taxation will maximize the public good and how you define the public good.

Here in Canada, I pay almost half of what I earn over $55,000 Cdn. in federal and provincial income taxes. That's before I pay consumption taxes (13% on most goods and services in my province), outrageous property taxes, highway tolls, garbage collection fees and a myriad of other government fees.

I operate a small business and employ approximately 10 individuals. By most standards, I would be defined as "rich". That being said, I have plenty of debt and live paycheque to paycheque. Admittedly, my paycheques are larger than most and I spend more than most. [No crocodile tears for me please]

When the level of taxation produces a disincentive for wealth producers to create income, you have a serious problem. Businesses will search for alternate jurisdictions and individuals like me will just go golfing with their kids (not that that's a bad thing!).

My point is simply that we should not assume that the size of the economic pie is static. That being said, I think it is clear that Scandinavian countries seem to have calibrated these factors quite well, in much the same way as they have placed religion in its proper place!

Anonymous said...

“Look across the North Sea and you find Scandanavian countries doing well.”
Iceland is now attempting to introduce laws, to convert itself into a bastion of free speech and example to the world.
Who’d have thought simply re-branding from Bejam could do so much?

“we need to get real” What is “real” about attempts to conserve a situation that would not have existed, if progress hadn’t first created it.
“We don't dare say what we think anymore”. Such as democracy being government of the people, by the majority for the majority? Rather than government of the people, by a minority, for a minority. Since that’s a republic.

“the penny is beginning to drop”. Also known as, asking questions.
“we lefties need to stop” supporting a party system. Whereby we can only vote for personalities not polices.

Jim Moore said...

I was going to say, cue lots of comments like those of Atheist Missionary along the lines of "I have agreed with everything you've ever wriiten but now you are attacking the rich like me I won't be reading your blog any more." This is what happened on Sam Harris' blog. Funny how right-wing atheists don't like having their beliefs questioned in a logical manner.

Oh and Atheist Missionary, assuming you work as much as your 10 employees, then you're creating just over 9% of the wealth of your company and they're creating the rest. If anybody thinks they deserve more than any other worker in society, then ask yourself how you'd like to live in a society without "lowly" garbage collectors that prevent way more disease and pestilence than all the doctors combined.

a progressive crank said...

Thinking over the cui bono test, having just read your pieces on the rebellious atheists, I can say that one of the drivers behind cutting state benefits and programs here in the US is morality. Not the morality of children starving or second-rate schools but the morality of self-sufficiency and responsibility.

Yes, I know it's horse exhaust but it's how things have been framed for the past 30+ years here — that socioeconomics and family support for education are meaningless, that everyone has an equal chance, all while social mobility is at its lowest in a century or so. While Mrs Thatcher was dismantling the welfare state there, Mr Reagan was convincing people here that what little social safety net existed had been corrupted to the benefit of the least deserving at the expense of the most industrious.

There is a puritanical streak in American culture intertwined with the myth of the self-made man, the pioneer. You wouldn't know it from the lack of self-control in the buffet line or fast food outlet: it is directed at other people. Someone else is getting rich from government assistance, says the person with a subsidized farm and mineral lease payments in his name. The government is trying to control my healthcare, says the person in state-provided mobility scooter (no push chairs here, no sir).

Smells a lot like hypocrisy, with a hint of self-delusion and sanctimony. And the most puzzling piece to me is that the most religious, those who expect an afterlife and a final judgment, seem the least concerned about the fate of "the least of His brethren" and most concerned with piling up worldly goods. I would expect the rapacious tycoons to be atheists and the pious to be in opposition. But then I would also expect those who hold with creation as the work of a spiritual being to be more concerned with conservation and stewardship.

Stephen Law said...

Prog crank - yes I am aware that's the culture in the US. Very entrenched too.

Jim - I didn't understand TAM to be saying that at all.

TaiChi said...

Stephen,

It bothers me that there appear to be a field of experts lined up against left-wing policies - I understand that economists heavily favour right-wing policies - which undermines my confidence in your points. Why shouldn't I cede the question of what is economically good for a country to this profession, and heed their warnings about high taxes for the wealthy, about the inefficiency of the public sector, etc.?
I'm not so much disagreeing with your view here, as asking for how you perceive economists given your view: are they ideologically driven, and not to be trusted? Is their advice mistaken, as they fail to value what ought to be valued? Or am I mistaken in taking economists to endorse right-wing theories?

Anonymous said...

TaiChi said...are they ideologically driven?
Aren’t we all? The question is, what perspicacity does each of those myriad ideologies possess? Given that whatever an individual cites as being paramount, the exclusion of all else shouldn’t condemn us to extinction. Elsewise, whatever they might think of as important isn’t going to continue either.
Or put another way: Identifying our primary purpose means we can sort the irrelevant from the vital. Thereafter, proper planning prevents potentially pathetic performance.
Plus an added bonus. That should there be something absolutely astonishing still to find out, we’ll be around long enough to discover it.

a progressive crank said...

Tai chi, in the spirit of cui bono, examine the sources of the arguments you hear: think tanks and policy groups are often used as counterweights to academic research but they are bought and paid-for opinion mills, with no peer review, no scientific rigor at all. And there are some universities that can be relied on to churn anti-tax/anti-social writings that frame their arguments as based on liberty and democracy but are often little more than libertarian policy papers.

As you probably know, economics came about as a tool to understand society through markets and commerce. At some point, the Economy became some kind of living thing, a god to whom sacrifices must be made and that must not, on any account, be angered. Think of the Cargo Cults in the South Pacific as an example or of any political conservative…

Modern political thought seems to hold that we work for the economy, not that it exists to serve us as a way of managing markets and resources through political action. I see it as economics is the theory and politics that practical application of those theories. Makes sense, as the two were once joined in a single discipline.

There is a lot of manufactured opinion and bespoke scholarship that passes for argument and the political right is more organized and disciplined, even authoritarian in its communications.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Jim, City employed garbage collectors in my municipality are very well paid and enjoy lucrative pension benefits.

Right wing and left wing is a false dichotomy. I support conservative financial policies (i.e. don't spend what you don't have) but would also support making post-secondary education free. The irony in Canada is that we currently have students in the province of Quebec staging massively attended protests against tuition fee increases when they aleardy enjoy the lowest tuitions in North America. Given that the tuition paid by a Canadian unievrsity student covers less than 20% of the actual cost of that education, I say pull off the band-aid and eradicate tuitions altogether. Removing the financial barriers to university attendance would also help eliminate the social/economic castes that are inevitably created between those who receive a university education and those who don't.

I appreciate that my staff work to increase my wealth and I pay them all competitive wages (set by my prevailing local labour market) to do so. My clients pay me a handsome hourly rate that is also dictated by the local laws of supply, demand and my expertise relative to my colleagues. What's the problem with that? Should I pay my staff more than what the market demands? Should I charge less than what my colleagues are charging?

Profit is not a dirty word nor is wealthy or rich. My point remains (and forgive me for repeating it) that we need to have national conversations about what level of taxation will maximize the public good and how the public good is to be defined.

jules said...

@ Jim Moore,

Your post almost made me gag. I've never understood why those who CREATE the wealth and jobs, take all the risks and responsibility, work their guts out and make the most of their talent, are savagely attacked. It just doesn't make sense to me. I guess that makes me "right wing". Too bad.

And people are not "workers". You must be thinking of insects - bees perhaps?

Communism has been tried and it didn't work. Quite rightly so, because it's fundamentally immoral.

a progressive crank said...

It would be helpful to move beyond a simple Manichean framework of extremes. There is middle ground between "property is theft" and "taxation is theft." Isn't there?

And who suggested communism? Are the Scandinavian nations used as examples communist? When did that happen?

I've not seen any instances where "those who CREATE the wealth and jobs, take all the risks and responsibility, work their guts out and make the most of their talent, are savagely attacked." I have seen some criticism, some of it harsh, leveled at business leaders who don't act in good faith with their communities, partners, and other stakeholders.

I take exception to the idea that one person takes ALL the risk in a business, unless you know of instances where an employer has indemnified his employees against a failure of the business or otherwise removed their risk. And how often do we hear of executives who are removed from their jobs but walk away with handsome severance packages?

How about this example?
Outgoing New York Times CEO Janet Robinson received an exit package worth $23.7 million after presiding over an eight year tenure that saw the company's share price fall by 80 percent. The company's net earnings over the past four years were $3 million. In addition to her exit package, Robinson earned a $1 million annual salary.

And there are lots more stories like that, of zero accountability for measurable losses, a fraction of which would get most employees fired with no recourse and certainly no lovely parting gifts.

The best places to work have long been the ones that treat everyone as a contributor, regardless of when they were hired or how much they are paid. I guess not everyone has had that experience.

Dan P said...

Wealth producers are consumers with money creating demand, not businesses. The Republican Party always refers to rich people as "job producers". I am dubious of this line of thought.

I doubt that rich people create jobs with their disposable income except in the same manner as anyone else eith extra cash: They spend money. However, they do not start businesses with their extra cash.

As for the the feasibility of European austerity programs, read Amartya Sen.

jules said...

@ a progressive crank,

I'm not the extremist here.

"If anybody thinks they deserve more than any other worker in society, then ask yourself how you'd like to live in a society without "lowly" garbage collectors that prevent way more disease and pestilence than all the doctors combined."

Sure sounds like communism to me. The notion that no-one "deserves" a reward PROPORTIONATE to their efforts is obscene.

I stand by my statement that in this country, generally speaking, the selfish and greedy rich are seen as somehow exploiting the "poor" downtrodden masses. Socialism is largely driven by envy, but socialists are in my experience utterly clueless about how economics really works. For one thing, there's a mistaken idea that wealth is a limited resource - something that's either there or isn't, forgetting that it's CREATED. In their minds, since wealth is a finite resource (like water perhaps), then it's only "fair" that it be distributed as equally as possible.

Left-wingers also tend to ignore human nature. The kind of egalitarianism they advocate doesn't take into account the fact that creating wealth requires strong motivation and incentive - which they are only too willing to remove for the sake of more "equality".

Come on guys, it ain't rocket science!

I don't have any problem with bosses getting fat payouts (unless it comes from taxes); exactly WHO should decide who gets what, and why?

Also, Stephen, I think you're mistaken if you think we can just kind of plug in the scandinavian model and everything will be hunky-dory. There are historical and cultural influences which suggest it wouldn't be as simple as that.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/10/swedish-model-big-society-david-cameron

Dan P said...

Jules:

Actually, it is rocket science!

jules said...

"There is middle ground between "property is theft" and "taxation is theft." Isn't there?"

Is "property is theft" meaningful? seems to me highly dubious that it is. "theft" is the action of taking property without consent, but "property is theft" denies that there is such a thing as rightfully owned property, so the statement includes a term which entails a contradiction of the statement itself.

Dan P said...

To get back to the gist of Stephen Law's post:

The dominant political rhetoric has become so shifted to the right that to speak of something such as a progressive tax code marks one as a Marxist.

Proponents of raising the tax bracket on the wealthiest Americans are not proposing tax brackets anything like those in the past.

No need to worry! The Rolling Stones will not have to seek asylum in a French villa to record the next Exile on Mainstreet!

In the U.S., Fox news stations have discussed Obama's "Marxist" agenda, referring to tax code changes as "Class Warfare" and wealth redistribution.

Obama has also been portrayed as modelling the U.S. after European social democracies (somehow that is a horrible thing!).

In fact it is the Republican anti-Keynesian austerity measures that are modelled on European policies.

I think that Stephen Law's point is simply that if one supports anything resembling modest proposals, one will have to start with a higher asking price simply to make one's demands appear less radical in such a right shifted environment.

a progressive crank said...

@Jules:

I stand by my statement that in this country, generally speaking, the selfish and greedy rich are seen as somehow exploiting the "poor" downtrodden masses.

Why would anyone defend the "selfish and greedy rich?" Of course, they are, but I don't lump everyone with more money than me, or even Warren Buffet, into the "selfish and greedy" category. You can be rich, maybe even fabulously so, without being an antisocial jerk.

Socialism is largely driven by envy, but socialists are in my experience utterly clueless about how economics really works.

Actually, socialism is largely driven by egalitarianism: it doesn't look up and ask "why's he got so much?" Rather, it looks down and asks "why have they got so little?" In an industrialized society, as western Europe was becoming at the time, it was a reasonable question.

For one thing, there's a mistaken idea that wealth is a limited resource - something that's either there or isn't, forgetting that it's CREATED.

Funny that: Willard Romney said the same thing, that JMorgan's $3B loss must has been someone else's $3B gain. Most of us understand that economies expand and contract and that individual components can gain or lose value within the larger economy. But not our WIllard.

Yes, it is created but not by financiers and factory owners: everyone has a hand in it. No sensible person believes that everyone from the floor sweeper to the CEO deserves the same payout, but if business increases or per worker productivity rises, history shows that the rewards don't always make it to the workers who became more productive (another failed example of trickle-down economics…). Too much crony capitalism with boards of directors voting their pals raises and approving severance packages, all from other people's money. That's the old saw about socialism, that sooner or later, you run out of other people's money, as if only socialists were guilty of wallowing in the trough…

In their minds, since wealth is a finite resource (like water perhaps), then it's only "fair" that it be distributed as equally as possible.

This is a straw man: I doubt even Willard Romney believes this though he may tomorrow if he didn't yesterday. He's flexible like that.

The most prosperous time in America was when union membership was high and taxes were high (91% was the top marginal rate). No one paid that rate: George Romney only paid 35% (today's top marginal rate) in his day, and he was a big earner. So it was far from confiscatory or punitive.

I don't think Stephen was suggesting a switch to the Scandinavian model tomorrow. But there is a body of research that demonstrates that, given a blank slate and the Rawls' Veil of Ignorance, people choose a model roughly like that of Sweden. The Veil of Ignorance is a thought experiment where without knowing where in a given society you will be placed, you must set up an ideal wealth distribution. Given that in the US, by quintile, the top 20% own 84% of the wealth, the next 20% owns 10%, and the remaining 60% of Americans share the remainder.

The various alternatives [http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealth-inequality/] show the breaks at no less than 10% for the bottom quintile, where now they get something like .5%, increasing to a generous 35% for the top quintile. As the study showed, few people actually understand the system they're in: they don't know how much wealth is held by the top or how little is at the bottom. What quintile are you in?

This is a manmade system, not a natural phenomenon: we built it, just as the Swedes built their. The question we should be asking is, if we started over, would we build the same thing?

Anonymous said...

jules said...
Communism has been tried and it didn't work
Er… Communism, Capitalism, Common Marketism, all have merits. Pity they were all corrupted by the capers of essentially the same self-serving clan.

a progressive crank said...
instances where "those who CREATE the wealth,
like Robinson Crusoe, find their progression somewhat curtailed. Possibly due to an absence of the aid and diversity, that community and cooperation imbues.

jules said...
Socialism is largely driven by envy
Reminds me of the landowner who told a trespasser it was his, because his ancestors had fought for it.
The interloper replied, “Fine, I’ll fight you for it”.

there's a mistaken idea that wealth is a limited resource –
It was, before they invented fiat money and quantitative easing.
It will be again, when finite resources run out.

jules said...

Apologies, I meant to put inverted commas around "selfish and greedy".

I don't accept that it's a straw man that many left-wingers believe that wealth is a finite resource; it's not a unreasonable assumption to make given that they seem to have no understanding of the basics of economics. They seem to think that the public and private sectors are equal in economic terms, which is absurd.

The greatest period of prosperity in the UK was during the 19th Century, it was more or less laissez-faire. Same goes for the U.S. except it lasted longer. Anyone who thinks that the current financial crisis somehow "proves" that capitalism has failed simply isn't aware of the full sequence of events that led up to it, in particular the role that heavy government subsidies had to play in corrupting the free market.

It may be a man-made system, but you have to take human nature into account when designing it if you want to it work long term. Aren't human beings a "natural phenomenom" too?

That's enough eye-rolling and poo-pooing from me...

a progressive crank said...

It may be a man-made system, but you have to take human nature into account when designing it if you want to it work long term. Aren't human beings a "natural phenomenom" too?

Which is why we have laws, regulations, taxes, and various means of taming man's worst impulses.

If you really believe that ignorance of economics is the exclusive province of the left (who came up with the Laffer curve? Trickle down economics? Tax cuts as a means of job creation?) we don't have much to talk about. If anything high taxes, as an incentive to invest, increase wages, fund r&d, are more likely to boost hiring. As for the 19th century vs the mid 20th, don't confuse economic expansion with prosperity.

Mr. Hamtastic said...

I don't understand this argument. It has never made sense to me how we expect to create a "higher quality of life" by reducing our personal financial resources by handing them to the government, so they can decide what is best for us. Are we all that stupid, that we can't decide what is best for ourselves individually? Besides that, the more we reduce the spending power of the "rich bad guy", doesn't that just mean he will simply use less of that wealth in job creating investments?

I mean, really, which is better? Having the government mandate our lives and finances,and giving up our freedom to succeed or fail? Or keeping the government as small as possible, limited, following laissez faire economic policies and encouraging meritocracy?

a progressive crank said...

I guess we're even, as I don't understand your response.

There is zero empirical evidence that cutting tax rates leads to increased economic output, absent any other initiatives. This image makes it pretty clear:
http://i.imgur.com/EeLr0.jpg As does the American economy from the early 50s to mid 70s.

A dollar in the pocket of a member of the working class is going to pass through more hands and be part of more transactions than one in the pocket of a derivatives trader. At its most basic, money is like blood — it needs to circulate. A person with pools of non-circulating or pooled blood may already be dead. So with economies.

There is nothing to compel anyone who disagrees with the idea of society, full stop, to stay in one they find repellent. Seems to me a lot of economic migration is toward societies with regulated markets and the rule of law, and away from corrupt failed or emerging states, laissez faire at its most essential. If you want evidence of meritocracy, writ large, think about that.

And the idea that government is some malevolent force under no one's control is pathetic and tired. If this were true, how are we in the 236th year of an experiment that has run under the same rules, barring less than 30 amendments?

To wander off topic a little (this will be my last comment on this thread) the solution to non-responsive government, nothing to do with the size of it, is reducing the cost of political challenges. Right now we have far too many politicians who have been in office far too long and are insulated from their constituents and the issues of the day. To challenge an incumbent is expensive, due to the high cost of media advertising which is primarily how candidates get their message out. The need for money to mount a challenge or a robust defense has created a whole economy of its own, with lobbying and PACs. In the 90s, as I recall, a Senator had to bring in $15,000 each week of his six year term to be able to defend his seat: that $4,680,000 total has is $7,500,000 or more.

No one is naive enough to think a large donation from a trade group or corporation is in the spirit of open democracy: there's an implicit quid pro quo. And since the entities giving those funds are not really constituents, not voters or people, what chance do actual voters or people have to be listened to?

We don't need smaller government, we need more responsive government. We don't need term limits: we already have them — they're called elections. We need lower barriers to entry into the electoral process by reducing the dependence on expensive media-centered campaigning. Just as the Drug War failed by tackling supply and ignoring demand, so is campaign finance reform doomed, for the same reason. Take care of demand and supply will take care of itself. That's how markets work. Mucking with the supply and hoping demand catches up looks suspiciously like a command economy, as in the USSR circa 1955.

If you want smaller, more responsive government, manage the demand for government services and subsidies and the supply — the size — will take care of itself. Government is smaller and spending lower in the current administration than either has been in quite some time: look it up. But there is room for improvement.

Anonymous said...

jules said...
Aren't human beings a "natural phenomenom" too?
Hmmm…and fortuitously transitory. If the planet is to survive this intellectually challenged infestation.

Mr. Hamtastic said...
doesn't that just mean he will simply use less of that wealth in job creating investments?
Playing “double up stakes” at the trading wheel isn’t investing. If those losses are made good from the population’s purse, who will buy the means of production’s products?

Having the government mandate our lives
In a real democracy the people mandate the polices they wish followed. With a few tweaks and the interweb, that could become practical. But, to make good decisions we’d need access to relevant information. Plus an understanding of what it is we are attempting to achieve.

a progressive crank said...
how are we in the 236th year of an experiment that has run under the same rules, barring less than 30 amendments?
It appears that the Tea Party may have been formed with the intention of manipulating the people, into voting for the repeal of a particular amendment. One that took the right for politicians to elect politicians away, and gifted it to the people instead. Who have to vote to give it back.

we need more responsive government.
Which explains why they don’t permit a referendum, that would potentially supply the unequivocal mandate to achieve that.

jules said...

"Hmmm…and fortuitously transitory. If the planet is to survive this intellectually challenged infestation."

WTF?

I really can't be bothered to respond, other than you sound like a complete idiot, and a pretentious one at that.

jules said...

"Seems to me a lot of economic migration is toward societies with regulated markets and the rule of law, and away from corrupt failed or emerging states, laissez faire at its most essential. If you want evidence of meritocracy, writ large, think about that."

Now you're attacking a straw man. Corrupt failed and emerging states in no way equate to laissez faire. I like the way you snuck in "regulated markets" alongside "rule of law", as though they're more or less the same thing.

Laissez faire is separation of economics and state, no-one is suggesting we do away with the rule of law, which would be anarchy.

jules said...

"Which is why we have laws, regulations, taxes, and various means of taming man's worst impulses."

Since when is desire to make a lot of money one of man's "worst impulses"? How exactly does it negatively impact those who don't have that impulse?

I repeat, a plausible explanation of why many believe that it IS indeed a "bad" impulse is the implicit notion that there's only a finite amount of cash to go around. If you want more to go around, first you have to generate it, and forgive me for stating the obvious, but to disproportionately rob those who are most productive in that regard is not the way to go about it.

jules said...

Wikipedia definition of Laissez-faire:

Laissez-faire is an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from tariffs, government subsidies, and enforced monopolies, with only enough government regulations sufficient to protect property rights against theft and aggression. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means "let [them] do", but it broadly implies "let it be", or "leave it alone." A laissez-faire state and completely free market has never existed, though the degree of government regulation varies considerably.

Why has a completely free market never existed? I have an opinion, but I'd be interested to hear how the lefties would answer that question.

Anonymous said...

jules said...

WTF?

I really can't be bothered to respond, other than you sound like a complete idiot, and a pretentious one at that.


Without showing all the workings, or practically demonstrating the existence of renditions where reality should be:

What is the most important activity humans engage in?
Are there not as many potential answers to that as there are individuals to give them? However, whatever anyone may claim. If it is not ensuring the continuation of the species, it would be specious. Since nothing that requires or depends on the existence of humanity can occur, in the absence of humanity.
Thus the meaning of life, is life itself ensuring the continuity of the species.

Why is this not obvious to us?
All of our contrived understandings are different. The possibilities then are these:
Either one is right and all others wrong. Else all are wrong.
Is your understanding of reality 100% accurate?
If yes, you should be able to answer correctly any question presented to you.
Yet you cannot, for no one can.
What percentage of your understanding of reality is inaccurate then?
To answer that, you would have to know everything. Which would itself equate to possession of that elusive 100%.

What we each have is an adaptable working knowledge. Not a fixed and infallible comprehension. Changing the world may be achievable. Through changing the minds of all the people in it. Science and religion are simply flawed tools, deployed by humans to pursue the primary directive. We have existed without them. They cannot exist without us. Being induced to confront that should do the trick, in all but the most deluded denier’s rendition.


As with all renditions, this example too could be erroneous. But, it does offer the potential to extend our species existence to a point where we find that out.
I’ll get my coat.

Dan P said...

Please discuss amongst yourselves:

Is atheism consistent with teleology?
There are a lot of teleological claims being made, e.g. that the purpose of people is to procreate.

Please justify!

jules said...

If one examines the semioticist paradigm of reality, one is faced with a choice: either accept social realism or conclude that class has intrinsic meaning, but only if the premise of neocultural material theory is invalid. Sontag promotes the use of Debordist situation to read sexual identity.

However, the predeconstructivist paradigm of consensus suggests that the State is meaningless. The primary theme of Reicher’s[1] analysis of social realism is a self-justifying reality.

It could be said that Foucault’s essay on poststructuralist Marxism implies that sexuality is used to marginalize the underprivileged, given that narrativity is equal to consciousness. Any number of appropriations concerning not theory, but subtheory exist.

However, Bataille suggests the use of Debordist situation to deconstruct capitalism. The predeconstructivist paradigm of consensus suggests that language is part of the stasis of reality.

P.S. Google "Postmodern Generator". ;-)

Dan P said...

Jules:

A little known fact: Heidegger's works were the result of the Postmodern Generator, with a special Nazi setting!