Antiantitrust

by Russ Roberts on May 28, 2009

in Regulation

Here (HT: George) is the audio of my conversation with Harold Meyerson on today's Kojo Nnamdi show. We talk about antitrust. I am antiantitrust.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

100 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 50 comments }

MWG May 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Though I thought you did a good job, I always think you're way too gentle with guys like Meyerson.

Lee Kelly May 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Why do some people, like Harold Meyerson, seem to believe that, while its nice to let people have free markets, sometimes the government needs to step in to get things done. It's so asinine. Meyerson complains that that markets are not self-correcting enough, but does he really believe that government can step in and correct the market better? And, if the government is capable of such a sweeping re-organisation of the economy, then why are the continual small ordinary re-organisations so difficult?

Lee Kelly May 28, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Some of these commentators seem to think that while the government couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery, it could organise a rave at a convent.

mjh May 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm

I wondered what Mr. Meyerson thought was the right level of prices. Because he was clearly concerned about manufacturing raising prices too high. At the same time he was clearly concerned about Walmart reducing prices too low.

mjh May 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Continued…
In other words, both too high of prices and too low of prices were evidence of monopolistic practices. I just wonder how he determines what the right prices are.

Jeremy P May 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Meyerson's school of economic thought is certainly idio-something. "Idio-syncratic," however, is not the word that comes to mind.

K Ackermann May 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I think you argued your position extremely well, but I think antitrust keeps a lot of abuse in check.

Some market signals travel extremely slow and are ripe for exploitation.

I absolutely agree with your comments about crony capitalism. Crony capitalism gives capitalism a black eye, and it is tough to root out.

K May 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm

A national party stance for or against gay marriage is utterly stupid.

If the GOP is mean anything at all they must advocate leaving this to the state legislature. And each legislator should be free to vote as he believes believes.

The only GOP position should be that judges should not define marriage when the legislature or people have spoken.

At the national level the best party position is to say the tax code can contain whatever Congress wants it to contain.

That is exactly what the 16th Amendment says whether you like the income tax or not.

Issues will still remain. Is a gay marriage legally done overseas valid in the US. Answer: Yes it is. Read the Constitution, like it or not.

But the best solution is for government to stop using the word marriage. Call everything a contract.

Then let each church do as it wishes about performing or refusing to perform ceremonies and rites. But those church acts will have no legal meaning.

K May 28, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Sorry, my message above was meant for another comment stream.

Daniel Kuehn May 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Meyerson is just a journalist, though. The fact is, I think the kind of support among economists that you do see for antitrust policies is more nuanced, and not of the "big companies making profits in free markets are bad but big labor is good" variety represented by Meyerson. I don't think there's a ton of support for aggressive antitrust among economists, but it would be nice to see someone more on par with Russ discuss these issues with him. Even someone like Reich or Kuttner also of the American Prospect would be a better match up.

I mean – you guys talk about socialists on here, but Meyerson is a real, live, actual socialist… not the kind that angry people accuse Obama of being, but a REAL socialist. I think Kojo could have provided a more reasonable matchup, but interesting nonetheless.

Jeremy P May 28, 2009 at 11:24 pm

i think labeling Obama the distinction between whether Obama is a socialist or just playing one on t.v. is semantic and unimportant. Is it more acceptable to say that he is attempting to implement many socialist policies? I don't know why it is important to say that Obama is not a socialist, when almost all meaningful activity that will be accomplished is socialist in nature. Is single-payer socialist? Is promising the bottom 95% no tax increase while increasing spending tremendously socialistic? Is controlling American car manufactures and pseudo-nationalization of Citi not socialistic? What's the difference if Obama is not a socialist if almost everything he does is socialistic?

K Ackermann May 28, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Jeremy, I think "socialist" is used here mainly as a pejorative. Some use it in place of Dumb Liberal, and some might even use it in place of Black Bastard.

Larry Kudlow was in fits today as he tried hanging his usual labels around Obama's neck. Right down the line, every exec he had on told Larry that they though Obama was doing an OK job of threading the needle during a difficult time.

If you are not pissing somebody off, then you are not doing anything.

brotio May 29, 2009 at 1:39 am

"Jeremy, I think "socialist" is used here mainly as a pejorative. Some use it in place of Dumb Liberal, and some might even use it in place of Black Bastard."

The 'Black Bastard' part is quite an assertion there, Ackermann. Would you care to back it up with some evidence?

The rest of that quote is mostly-accurate. 'Socialist' is a pejorative. Anyone who thinks they are entitled to the fruits of another's labors should be treated with the contempt one reserves for thieves, no matter how many of their fellow citizens they get to help with the robbery.

I wouldn't say that all socialists are dumb, but if those that frequent this Cafe are representative of the average apparatchik, then it's easy to see how Yogi is smarter than the average bear (he's a socialist asswipe, too).

brotio May 29, 2009 at 2:10 am

"… and some might even use it in place of Black Bastard.""

K Ackermann,

Let's play a little word-association game.

(Muirgeo! Do not play this game! You might hurt yourself!)

What do the following people have in common:

From the Church of AGW – His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I

Also from the Church of AGW – Cardinal Yasafi Torquemuirduck

Adolph Shitler

St Franklin of Roosevelt

St Franklin's favorite Uncle, Joe Stalin

Benito Mussolini

Fidel Castro

Kim Jong-Il

Francois Mitterrand

Barack Obama

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 3:24 am

What do the following people have in common:

I'm not sure where the list begins, but:

They were all heads of state,
They were all men,
They all have the letter 'o' in their name,
They all presided over countries in the northern hemisphere.
They all directed their military or clandestine services in ways that resulted in the deaths of innocent people.
If the republicans don't get their act together, then they all presided for at least 8 years.

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 3:49 am

The 'Black Bastard' part is quite an assertion there, Ackermann. Would you care to back it up with some evidence?

It wasn't an accusation. It was abstract speculation not meant for anybody specific.

Given that Obama's actions have not differed that much from Bush, something may account for the socialist label attaching to Obama and not Bush.

I think it's a foolish label, given the circumstances he is working under. Half the people he is taking advice from are Chicago school acolytes. He's bent over backwards to keep the banks private, and allowed the same pinheads at the banks to keep their jobs even after them begging for public funds.

Do you really think any president would allow GM to go away? He's already going down in history as the president under which GM declared bankruptcy.

As for health care, if you don't want reform, then you better figure out how the free market is going to deliver affordable health care, because it is crushing the nation in expenses. It's sinful that single payer is being shut out of consideration.

Something has to be done.

brotio May 29, 2009 at 4:02 am

They were all heads of state,
They were all men,
They all have the letter 'o' in their name,
They all presided over countries in the northern hemisphere.
They all directed their military or clandestine services in ways that resulted in the deaths of innocent people.
If the republicans don't get their act together, then they all presided for at least 8 years.

All true, but there's at least one more. It begins with S and ends with ocialist. That's probably still too vague of a clue for Yasafi, but I think you're brighter than he is (a black hole is brighter than Yasafi).

And, as for your subsequent post: Bush proved to be quite the socialist at times – especially in the last five months of his term. Now, that we've established that Bush is also a socialist, does that make you feel better about Obama being a socialist, too?

brotio May 29, 2009 at 4:10 am

Oh, and Black Bastard was speculation aimed at patrons of this Cafe, solely because we disagree with you and the President.

Daniel Kuehn May 29, 2009 at 5:40 am

RE: "They were all heads of state,
They were all men,
They all have the letter 'o' in their name,
They all presided over countries in the northern hemisphere.
They all directed their military or clandestine services in ways that resulted in the deaths of innocent people.
If the republicans don't get their act together, then they all presided for at least 8 years."

SMACK!!!!

I like you K Ackermann!!!

Daniel Kuehn May 29, 2009 at 5:47 am

brotio -

If "socialist" is a word that can describe Bush, Obama, Gore, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Kim Jong Il simultaneously, then it's a word that has completely lost it's meaning.

It's very clear what you're getting at – the point isn't lost on K Ackermann and I – so why don't you just say "interventionist" or something like that and reserve "socialist" for the Stalins and the Castros… MAYBE the Hitlers of the world, but even he might be worth qualifying as a very different kind of socialist. You're not fooling anyone, brotio. You use the "socialist" label for the sake of sensationalism – not accuracy.

It's just so reactionary and unimpressive to use words that you yourself acknowledge as perjoratives to rope together every single person that deviates from your position in the slightest way, without even recognizing or acknowledging how those people differ starkly from each other.

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 7:32 am

And, as for your subsequent post: Bush proved to be quite the socialist at times – especially in the last five months of his term. Now, that we've established that Bush is also a socialist, does that make you feel better about Obama being a socialist, too?

First of all, most of the people on the list are/were dictators. They were socialists to the degree that fascism tends toward socialism, but for different reasons than a true socialist, such as Mitterrand. Fascists like the appeal of central control, which is more a trait of communism than socialism.

Property rights exist under socialism. Free markets exist under socialism. Socialism is an economic system, not a political system. It taxes aggressively in the hope of smoothing out the hard times people inevitably encounter. At least that's the hope.

There is a reason Mitterrand held office for 14 years without wearing camo or a greatcoat, and it has something to do with stability. Nations with good social provisions tend to be very stable.

I'm not too big on across-the-board socialism; I have too much risk in me. I've gone broke more than once, and never asked the government for a food stamp or help with the rent. I'd be a liar if I said I never asked my family for money, though. Mac n' cheese gives me panic attacks, and causes me to hustle faster.

What surprises me about all this aversion to socialism is that many don't seem to recognize a far more corrosive and damning system that is upon us, and that is the affliction of crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is to capitalism as fool's gold is to gold.

This knee-jerk reaction to lay all blame at the feet of the government is puzzling because the very institutions that are sucking this nation dry all find their roots in industries that either feed directly from the public trough, or get the laws they want passed that tilt advantage in their direction.

In my opinion, if all our energy was directed toward making public campaign financing the law, a truly massive, massive conflict of interest would yield great benefit for everyone, no matter where your ideologies lie.

Has anyone noticed that congress has not been able to get a single thing correct? I'm saying that objectively, not subjectively. It's pathological state was recently on full display when, for the first time in generations, it was given a mandate to spend money… lots of money in any way it wanted, and it failed at even that. The only time it ever came in under budget was when it was directed to spend money on just about anything. This, by the same clowns who could never spend enough money in the past.

While the fur was flying over who was more evil than who, and who got what piece of pie, a little old agency, without asking anyone, tripled the size of the pie overnight, and refuses to really say where all the money went, and on what terms it went.

Paulson asked for more money than the entire military budget, and he did it on a napkin where most of the language concerned not having to account for the money. He never did anything he said on that napkin anyway.

When you rail against the government, are you talking about the circus clowns tumbling out of the car, or are you talking about the real power?

Daniel Kuehn May 29, 2009 at 8:50 am

K Ackermann

RE: "Property rights exist under socialism. Free markets exist under socialism. Socialism is an economic system, not a political system. It taxes aggressively in the hope of smoothing out the hard times people inevitably encounter. At least that's the hope."

I think you're just describing a countercyclical fiscal policy – I guess an extreme version of this could be socialism, but I'd be careful about equating the two. Tax policy and business cycle smoothing doesn't define socialism. Socialism is the collective/state ownership of the means (or the majority of the means) of production. That doesn't have to have anything to do with taxation or business cycle smoothing.

George May 29, 2009 at 10:58 am

Here's a much better link to your segment of the 5/28/09 show.

For the sake of posterity, I hope you'll update the one in the main post.

Sam Grove May 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

What surprises me about all this aversion to socialism is that many don't seem to recognize a far more corrosive and damning system that is upon us, and that is the affliction of crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is to capitalism as fool's gold is to gold.

This is the business form of socialism, formerly known as mercantilism.

This knee-jerk reaction to lay all blame at the feet of the government is puzzling because the very institutions that are sucking this nation dry all find their roots in industries that either feed directly from the public trough, or get the laws they want passed that tilt advantage in their direction.

The focus here is on government because that is the lynch pin of the problem. It is the power concentrated in the state that enables the evils of crony capitalism and many other problems we observe in the system.

When you get down to it, we can only blame people and their ignorance for all these problems.

There is no government, there are no corporations, etc, there exists only people and their behaviors.

Daniel Kuehn May 29, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Sam Grove -
I found some of that K Ackermann post problematic as well… particularly the crony capitalism piece… for exactly the same reasons you cite.

I would take issue with this response:
"The focus here is on government because that is the lynch pin of the problem. It is the power concentrated in the state that enables the evils of crony capitalism and many other problems we observe in the system."

Yes, but simply pointing out that the government has done bad things in the past is not proof that all potential government actions are bad. A private banker could defraud it's customers, but that doesn't mean we can just reject a private banking industry! It means we need to make sure our banking industry isn't fraudulent!

Same with government. Identifying examples of bad government isn't evidence against any government intervention (in and of itself at least). It's only evidence against bad governmenance!

I know some people do go further and say that most any intervention is bad. I would simply say that if you hold that view, just don't think that the exmaples socialism and crony capitalism prove your point. They don't. They just prove that socialism and crony capitalism are bad, which is something that you, me, and K Ackermann all agree on anyway (I think… maybe Ackermann is a socialist, I don't know).

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Tax policy and business cycle smoothing doesn't define socialism

Daniel, I was actually thinking about illness or job loss when I mentioned smoothing.

In other words, the safety net that prevents someone from being wiped out by a heart attack, or from going hungry and homeless if their job disappears.

We have these things to a certain degree, but the cost is outrageous, partly because of powerful lobbies that viciously fight off all attempts at reform.

Sam said:
The focus here is on government because that is the lynch pin of the problem…

I fully understand your argument. You have to start somewhere, and government is the nexus.

With that said, don't you think we could strike a deep blow at the source by instituting public campaign finance? It's a narrow, concrete action that can be taken.

If a politician was legally out of reach to ply with money, and they reached office beholden only to the voters, then any lobbying could be judged on merit instead of campaign contributions.

There will always be corruption, but on average, I think it would be a great first step to putting the government back in the business of providing the things that the free market can't/shouldn't. Something it has completely abdicated to crony interests.

B.T.W. I am a capitalist through and through. I tend to take the other side on statements that I perceive as dogmatic. I try to make sure there is a rational argument, but nobody is perfect.

It makes us all think, and I can honestly say I have learned a lot in just a short time here. Not just learned, but became aware of new subjective views. Empathy, I guess.

Daniel Kuehn May 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm

K Ackermann -
Even then – social insurance = socialism? I really think that's missing the point of socialism as much as Sam is.

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Even then – social insurance = socialism? I really think that's missing the point of socialism as much as Sam is.

That's the problem. The term socialism is used so loosely now, that it's losing meaning.

I see good aspects in what others condemn here as socialism. I can't imagine what some of my very neighbors would do without their social security checks. Many retired from lumber companies with virtually no defined benefits.

I don't have a problem paying into that system, but I do have a problem with the government borrowing from it. Because not everybody is collecting from it at the same time, it should be a sustainable system as long as we have children and teach them how to work.

Banks work on the same principle that not everybody is going to do the same thing at the same time. Insurance too.

I also think that there are large-scale projects that make sense to collectively fund, effectively short-circuiting slow market signals. The highway system is an example, and government-funded research is a worthy cause.

The Internet came about from government research. We can argue that it would have been developed by private enterprise, but the fact is, the signals were too slow.

If I am not mistaken, everything mentioned is deemed socialism here, or am I wrong?

vidyohs May 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm

"I see good aspects in what others condemn here as socialism. I can't imagine what some of my very neighbors would do without their social security checks. Many retired from lumber companies with virtually no defined benefits.

I don't have a problem paying into that system,
Posted by: K Ackermann | May 29, 2009 4:05:45 PM"

"I don't have a problem paying into that system,

I do, K. Ackerman, that is why I stopped when I was told, back in 89, that I was fully vested. Then I subsequently learned the truth that SS is purely voluntary and that doubled my resolve to never send them a dime again. Now, fools, such as some that come to this cafe, would try and use force to make me pay. T'ain't happening, screw em. I have demanded every single penny I paid in to be repaid to me in lump sum, prorated for inflation and with interest. I demand justice, but fully expect to be denied.

"I can't imagine what some of my very neighbors would do without their social security checks. Many retired from lumber companies with virtually no defined benefits."

I can't imagine an intelligent person not planning for their own retirement and saving what would be necessary on their own. I have no sympathy for your neighbors, K. Ackerman, no more than I would expect them to be sympathetic to me if I were as foolishly lax in covering my own butt as they were.

If your neighbors worked all their lives for a company that had such vague benefits and low salaries, that they now have to live lives of poverty, does that say more about their lack of foresight, or does it say anything about the company? Damn, K. Ackerman, how bright does on have to be to see that if the rut isn't taking you anywhere, get the f..k out of the rut. If you aren't at least that bright, how can you expect symptahy for your self made plight?

"I see good aspects in what others condemn here as socialism."

K. Ackerman, what might those aspects be? On a pure practical intellectual basis, what might those aspects be?

I get a young pig, pen it up, feed it very carefully, make sure it stays healthy in its adequate pen, and the pig is happy. But, what I am doing is not good for the pig. My pig is in no way a competitor with its relative, the Razorback, it can't forage for itself, it can't defend itself amongst its fellow pigs, is essentially helpless without my 'governmental' nourishing and nannying. And last, I intend to use the pig for my own benefit.

All socialist policy has that ultimate aim, to use those it controls. Some will be devoured, some will be worked to death, some will be kept on hand to vote, some will be cannon fodder in the turmoil created by the cancer of socialism. So, kind sir, what aspects of socialism do you see as inspiring, strengthening of character, furthering ambitions, rooting morals firmly in souls, creating drive in individuals, or compelling humanity to become more than they are? What aspects, sir?

Socialism is a sick disease, and socialist is a perjorative. The fool that sees good in socialism has no claim to honest pragmatic intellect.

To paraphrase Jeremy P. above, socialist is a label, it is applied to a particular ideology and to the people who practice that ideology; therefore, by his acts Obama is known. The acts come first, the label follows. Then there is Obama's past that is chock full of evidence of his socialist or communist ideology.

What will it take for fools to acknowledge the socialist takeover and the socialist president, a personal trip to our own Gulag?
Bon voyage, K. Ackerman.

K Ackermann May 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

vidyohs, when I moved to Oregon from Mass, the first thing that struck me was how odd it was to see poverty in a beautiful setting. I had only known poverty to be in run-down city neighborhoods. It never dawned on me that people could be dirt poor in the beautiful countryside.

Stupid, huh?

You have to appreciate what parts of Oregon are like, and especially were like. A town has a lumber mill where the locals work… and that's it. Maybe there are some logging outfits too, and you can always tell by how many people are missing legs. Those would be the former choke setters who probably settled out of court for a fraction of what they deserved.

Now you or I might frown on the idea of sticking around a place where options are limited, but doing anything different may never even cross the minds of people who call a place home. That's just a fact of life.

You may not have any sympathy, but someone has to make the lumber for your house or furniture, and it used to be done by poorly paid, very nice people like my neighbors.

Things used to be different. Not everyone could put enough away long enough to be secure. Plus, they have every expectation to draw from the system they paid into over the years.

What are you going to do if your nest egg doesn't quite make it? Retirement accounts are going to take a beating over the next few years. People don't seem to realize the pain we are in for.

What are you going to do about healthcare when you retire?

brotio May 30, 2009 at 12:23 am

"If "socialist" is a word that can describe Bush, Obama, Gore, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Kim Jong Il simultaneously, then it's a word that has completely lost it's meaning."

It hasn't lost its meaning at all. I know it gets pointed out regularly, but some people just don't comprehend that 'Nazi' stands for 'National Socialist'. Hitler believed himself to be a socialist, why should I disagree with him?

Every one of the people listed believes that they are entitled to the fruits of another's labor. Some want only to have the power to give those fruits to others, while some want the fruit for themselves, but they all believe they have a right to my money if they think they can put it to better use than I do.

I understand that some of the socialists I listed are/were more deadly than others. I also understand that some applications of socialism only sicken the host they're feeding on, while other forms kill it. But, a parasite is still a parasite.

While we're playing Deny They're A Socialist, hosted by Ackermann and Kuehn, remember that Ackermann, and Obama are both so socialist that they believe General Motors is entitled to my money, and GM doesn't even owe me a car!

K Ackermann May 30, 2009 at 1:22 am

brotio, you really think you are going to get a free pass in the world, huh?

The day you pick up after yourself, and leave no trace of your existence is the day you get your free pass.

Until then, I have smell your garbarge, and educate your damn kids (because someone has to), and I have to pull over for the ambulance rushing you to the hospital to unclog your arteries, and I have to sit on the jury during your trial, and I have to repair the road you drive on, and I have to pay a little more for insurance because you didn't check the battery in your smoke detector, and I have to pay for the firefighter who got burned rescuing your kid in the fire, and yes, Goddammit, you can sleep on my couch until we get you fixed up with something new.

I want you to do me a favor, though. I want you to chip in $10 dollars to help keep 250,000 people employed during this crisis. Can you do that?

Sam Grove May 30, 2009 at 1:39 am

Yes, but simply pointing out that the government has done bad things in the past is not proof that all potential government actions are bad.

That's not the argument.

The argument is that having an agency with such power will do bad things. The social dynamics of political power make this inevitable.

The control people have over their government is only of the grossest form, there is no fine tuning, no simple adjustment, etc.

Political power is prone to evil and the people are prone to suffer such evil until they are no longer able to bear it.

If a private firm commits fraud, when uncovered, it will lose customers and attract no new ones, and is liable for it's actions.

When government commits harmful actions, they are merely labeled as "mistakes" (I've heard that used to describe the internment of Japanese American citizens).

A policy error! Who was held to accounts for implementing such a policy?

What are you going to do if your nest egg doesn't quite make it? Retirement accounts are going to take a beating over the next few years. People don't seem to realize the pain we are in for.

Thanks to the very agency they have become dependent on. This is an addiction worse than any drug.

brotio May 30, 2009 at 3:28 am

Is this thing working, now?

brotio May 30, 2009 at 3:53 am

Apparently, only for little blurbs.

brotio May 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Let's see if the fifth time is a charm…

"I want you to do me a favor, though. I want you to chip in $10 dollars to help keep 250,000 people employed during this crisis. Can you do that?" – K Ackermann

This illustrates a problem I have with you socialists: It's always what you think I should do with my money, never what you should do. If I want to support the employees of GM, I'll buy one of their cars. If I don't like their cars, or if I think they're crap, or if I prefer Fords and Toyotas, or even if I just hate unions and won't buy anything union-made, how is it any of your business? And who the hell are you to demand that I give them anything?

The rest of your paean to socialism was a little more amusing, but equally presumptive:

If you can smell my garbage, then your nose is someplace it oughtn't be.

If you're educating my children, then it's because government stole your money to do so. Take your fight to them.

If you don't think you should yield to ambulances? Again, take your fight to the government. I'm not a legislator.

You seem to have a lot of anger toward government. Are you sure you aren't a libertarian?

I would like to thank you for your offer of the use of your couch, though. It was the only genuine act of charity in your whole diatribe. Everything else was at gunpoint.

K Ackermann May 30, 2009 at 8:32 pm

You don't get it. I can't avoid you, because we are both part of society. The fact is, you do cost me money. You, and people like you who move around in society.

Society, social…

Don't worry; I'll continue to support your socialist ass.

brotio May 31, 2009 at 12:36 am

Ackermann,

You're awfully hostile. First, you imply that we disagree with Obama because of his race. Then, you get pissed off at me because the government has told you that you have to take care of me. I didn't ask for your help, and I don't need (or want) it.

But, now that you've brought it up, I'm getting pissed, because they've been telling you that you're paying to support me, and I haven't gotten a goddamn dime! Holy crap, they're liars AND thieves! Whodathunkit?

Your anger is misguided. Stockholm Syndrome, maybe?

brotio May 31, 2009 at 1:01 am

Ackermann,

I am aware that our government practices the policy of from each according to his means, to each according to his needs. I don't like it. I know that the odds of ever being able to change the fact make lotto look like a sure bet – especially when people who can write in complete sentences (like you), join that brain-stemless wonder, Yasafi. But I'm not going to grin-and-bear it. You have my money. Can't you be content with that? YOU HAVE MY MONEY. Why do you insist I pretend to be happy about it?

Lesvic nailed it. You people are not content just to live in your socialist Utopia, you insist on dragging everyone else along, too.

Daniel Kuehn May 31, 2009 at 9:14 am

brotio -
Re: "I know it gets pointed out regularly, but some people just don't comprehend that 'Nazi' stands for 'National Socialist'. Hitler believed himself to be a socialist, why should I disagree with him?"

Wow – I didn't think I NEEDED to clarify, but perhaps I should have. I agree Hitler, Stalin, and Kim Jong Il are all socialists (although I think it's worth acknowledging that Hitler's was a VERY different brand of socialism). I'm not disagreeing with that. I'm saying Roosevelt, Gore, Obama, and Bush aren't!

Re: "Lesvic nailed it. You people are not content just to live in your socialist Utopia, you insist on dragging everyone else along, too."

Lesvic is out of his gourd because he doesn't realize that (1.) I think "socialist utopia" is an oxymoron, and (2.) even if such a thing could exist I certainly wouldn't want to live there and I wouldn't want anyone dragging me there.

K Ackermann May 31, 2009 at 10:47 am

brotio, you have to do better than that.

I know what it's like to not have money. I would rather eat a squirrel than ask for help, but I don't expect other people who are in the same boat to do the same thing.

vidyohs expects everyone to be rich, or to have provided for themselves a nice nest egg, but that is a fantasy. He himself is wiped out when he has his heart attack, unless he has good insurance. Where he is going to get that after 65, I don't know. Maybe he enjoys social benefits that he's not telling about, such as VA care.

It's not the government that made you broke. Everyone would be broke if that were the case. If money is your main objective in life, then maybe you picked the wrong career. That was a choice you made.

Or was it? Are you disabled? If you are, there are many government programs to help you. We all chipped in, because it is a fact that you being secure in life is better for society than you being unsecure.

I personally know someone who is a hero's hero. I can only look directly at her for a second, because my eyes are not worthy to gaze at her. She got knocked up by some unimportant loser who fled as soon as he saw that his baby daughter was born with Spina Bifida. Not the good Spina Bifida that leaves a child a twisted wreck, but the bad Spina Bifida that leaves a child a twisted wreck accompanied by water on the brain, and other problems.

I think it's cool that someone who trained to be a hospice provider is paid by the state to go to her house for 5 hours, 3 days a week so mom can go to her part time accounting job. If this lady is bitter about life, you would never know it.

Maybe you are an artist, or a musician. About 2% of them make 95% of the money in the arts, but the arts perform a vital service to society. There has never been a culture that has not practiced art. Art inspires people.

What do you want to do with these people? What should we do with vidyohs after he has his heart attack?

What do you want me to do?

brotio May 31, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Ackermann,

Others here have pointed out repeatedly (Sam Grove is especially articulate about it), and I agree with them, that everything you mentioned would probably be better, and more inexpensively provided by private charity. Sam has a quote about government-imposed charity denying men the nobility of spirit. I can't remember it exactly, but I hope he'll post it if he reads this thread.

Again, you have my money, why do you insist that I pretend to be happy about it?

K Ackermann May 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm

brotio,

The problem with charity is that it is reactive, and it cannot be counted on.

My friend above would be reduced to a gatherer looking for handouts, and that is counter-productive to her working. Her employer could not count on her showing up to work if she could not pay for hospice.

That type of inefficiency bubbles up at all levels, or it leaves a lot of people behind. What if she couldn't get charity on a consistent enough basis to allow her to earn a living? Would it be unspoken but understood that she is to let her child die like some are forced to in Africa?

It's not just for exceptional events, or exceptional circumstances. The idea behind social welfare is that not everybody needs services at the same time, but we all need certain common things for short periods of our lives. Because of the uneven distribution of means (which is a good thing), a progressive tax is collected proactively so that everyone can more or less count on an even chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If education were only provided to those who could afford it for their children, then we would be stuck with greater numbers of even more stupid people than we have now. Even if they could afford it, many might not want to pony up the tab for a large education expense. This would result in less engineers, financial wizards, doctors, and scientists. We would become feudal in no time, and charitable contributions in a feudal society, I would bet, would be pretty sparse.

It is my personal belief that taxes get blamed for more problems than they deserve. I base this on the fact that the tax rate used to be astronomical compared to today, yet the country flourished during that period, and the economy was remarkably stable. It's easy to find explanations for anything, but it is what it is.

I hate paying taxes just as much as the next guy, but I cannot identify any point where my potential was radically altered because of taxes. That's not to say Washington is not out of control, because it is. The government spends too much money, but the vast majority of that can be laid at the feet of special interests, crony capitalism, and turf protection. That's where the fight should be.

You watch, they will end up cutting services while all the special interests get to play. Bair from FDIC wanted to impose a fee of 20 cents per $100 dollars deposited at banks to cover the projected bank failures, but the banks said no way, and smacked congress around until they increased the borrowing limit for the FDIC.

The banks get to enjoy the extra leverage afforded to them by the FDIC, but when they screwed up, they get to pass it all off to the taxpayer. They don't even want to take a small one-time hit for screwing up the world economy. We can pound on the senators all we want, but the banks will keep electing indebted servants.

Public-funded elections would change a lot of that.

brotio May 31, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Daniel Kuehn,

Fine, they're all interventionists. I'll play your semantic game if it'll make you feel better, and try not to use that pejorative, "socialist" any more. I'll use the pejorative, "interventionist" instead. However, please tell your fellow interventionist, Ackermann, that 'interventionist' isn't being used in place of 'Black Bastard'.

Here's the list again:

From the Church of AGW – His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I

Also from the Church of AGW – Cardinal Yasafi Torquemuirduck

Adolph Shitler

St Franklin of Roosevelt

St Franklin's favorite Uncle, Joe Stalin

Benito Mussolini

Fidel Castro

Kim Jong-Il

George W Bush

Francois Mitterrand

Barack Obama

Do you feel better now, knowing that I've labeled all of these men 'interventionists'?

I do have a question for you, though. Could you explain the practical, or even philosophical differences between Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama?

K Ackermann May 31, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I do have a question for you, though. Could you explain the practical, or even philosophical differences between Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama?

I can address the practical difference: Sanders is more apt to fight for you and your liberty.

Look at FISA II.

brotio May 31, 2009 at 7:57 pm

K Ackermann,

Why is Catholic Charities (or any other charity organization) more reactive than social services?

It seems like you've also conflated, "Promote the general welfare" with, "provide the general welfare". I reject the notion that the Constitution grants the feds the authority to provide the charity-at-gunpoint that I'm being forced to pay for.

The government spends too much money, but the vast majority of that can be laid at the feet of special interests, crony capitalism, and turf protection.

I think you have that backward. Crony capitalists (or, more accurately, "mercantilists"), and other special-interests lobby the government, because the government has seized power beyond its Constitutional limits, making it easier for these special-interests to profit via government, rather than by satisfying customers.

I'm also a little confused by you. You claim in your post of May 31, 2009 7:22:11 PM to dislike crony-capitalism, but earlier in the thread, you were berating me for not wanting GM to profit from crony-capitalism.

brotio May 31, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Sanders is more apt to fight for you and your liberty.

So the admitted socialist is more interested in individual liberty than the practicing socialist interventionist? That doesn't make Obama more appealing to me.

K Ackermann May 31, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I'm not trying to make Obama more appealing to you. I have real mixed feelings about him myself.

I think he is a fundamentally honest person, but he has too much of the pragmatic politician in him.

He has allowed himself to be surrounded by the same clowns who 'never saw it coming'.

These are the same people who bashed the world over the head with talk about how countries had to open all areas up to private investment, and then sat back and watched the countries get hit with speculative attacks on their currencies, and let dictators rule only to call in all loans once the dictators were overthrown and elections held.

Geithner claims first hand experience with Japan's lost decade, and then turns around and does the same thing here.

Geithner, Summers, and the king maker, Bob Rubin all screaming for fiscal stimulus, and all talking talk of mortgage modification programs for months and months, without actually modifying mortgages.

I don't care about the mortgages and neither do they, but for different reasons. I want jobs, because jobs pay mortgages, but they don't care about mortgages because they have the PPIP, which is how we are going to buy all those wonderful 'assets' that are underwater because houses are underwater.

It was quite fashionable to blame the crisis on 'deadbeats' who didn't pay their mortgages, but nobody ever mentions the government could have made every single late payment on mortgages for $200 billion as of a couple of months ago.

Everyone would still be in houses, house prices would still be going up, securitization would still be hiding risk for suckers, and all would be sunshine and handjobs.

Obama should have been forcing Summers to institute the same tough love Summers demanded when he worked at the IMF, or WB, or wherever it was.

Obama should be telling the military that in this country, we don't discriminate, so ditch the DADT policy or he will find some generals that are not insecure or prone to gay gay impulses.

Obama should be closing say, 500 of our 700 overseas military bases.

Obama should be talking about not signing the next budget unless congress creates a law that says all political contributions go into a pool that is evenly divided, or some other mechanism that does not put elected representatives in the pocket of companies.

I could go on and on.

There is only one reason I am for bailing out GM, and that is to save jobs during this crisis. I could give a rats ass once jobs return. How much do you think it would cost to pay unemployment for all those people?

And if we didn't provide unemployment, how long do you think someone who wants to work will watch his kid go hungry before he either snaps or starts taking whatever he wants from you and me? Do you really think people are going to behave while they go from middle class to zero?

brotio June 1, 2009 at 1:12 am

There is only one reason I am for bailing out GM, and that is to save jobs during this crisis. I could give a rats ass once jobs return. How much do you think it would cost to pay unemployment for all those people?

You presume that they will all lose their jobs. I think GM has plenty of valuable assets – including some of its labor force. Why do you assume that Toyota, Nissan, or even Ford wouldn't be interested in some of GM's manufacturing assets? And, Chevrolet and Cadillac are still valuable brands.

Anyway, all those billions of dollars that you said were necessary to prevent GM from going bankrupt don't seem to have worked. They're apparently heading to bankruptcy court tomorrow.

The rest of your post makes some credible points, but, unlike you, I don't think Obama basically honest. I can't look at his friends and influences and draw that conclusion.

K Ackermann June 1, 2009 at 1:48 am

They're apparently heading to bankruptcy court tomorrow.

It's an historic day. All empires eventually fall, and I believe we are actually living through the experience.

It doesn't happen all at once, and if England showed us anything, it's that unwinding an empire doesn't even have to be all that terrible.

I'm afraid we are not as smart as them, as they scheduled their winding down.

We sure did burn bright while we lasted. It's going to be every man for himself now, so good luck, neighbor.

Previous post:

Next post: