Monday, August 27, 2012

Caveat Emptor

Replies to promethics, regarding this.

Before I get to the replies from promethics, who is dalillama, two things:

First:

I provided several examples of different NAPs, in an effort to point out that voluntarism, and by extension libertarianism are not monolithic (as you might imagine when discussing a group of people's ethics).  The NAP does not predict an outcome, or really try and shape an outcome for society (or a person).  The model 'this is what I want society to be, so we should change that' is not what voluntarism is.  That method might work, and is capable of co-existing peacefully within a voluntarist society with other kinds of communities. The take away message from this series of responses is that the buyer should always beware.  The fact that people fall for snake oil salesmen is not anyone's fault but their own if the opportunity to know better exists (and it does).

Second:

I see this presented a lot 'against' libertarian (and in this case voluntarist) views, including in your responses:
  1. Person A believes that the government can solve problem X with a given policy Q.
  2. Person B believes that the government can not solve problem X with policy Q.
  3. Person A accuses person B of being opposed to solving problem X.
There are of course alternate versions of this.  In this one, I have argued that libertarians (and voluntarists in a more general sense) are (or can be) concerned with social justice issues.  You have said that 'this government policy' or 'that government policy' solve the problem.  I do not believe that you have evidence of the causal relationship, but that has little to do with my not wanting to solve some social justice issues.  I will make a further statement, just because you have something the government could do that would result (always) in a moral good, voluntarists would still be opposed to the government doing it.  This is not because they disagree about the moral goodness of the outcome or necessarily that the government could arrive at the moral good, but that it would use means which are immoral in order to get to the moral good.

Now, to the point by point responses:

"Right here, I'm afraid we have a fundamental disconnect. The existence of natural rights is a faith claim on its face, and arguments based upon such a claim are intrinsically fallacious. The definition of what constitutes a 'natural' right is entirely arbitrary, and all manner of contradictory things have been claimed to fall into this category by varoious[sic] people, with no empirical way to differentiate their claims."--promethics, who is dalillama
The differences in construction have nothing to do with our discussion, they were provided as background.  All moral positions, at their grounding are arbitrary.  This does not make them faith claims.  There are no a priori moral stances (though some anarcho-capitolists would disagree with this, but I am not one of them), and there is no absolute judge of moral systems beyond the moral agent.  This does not mean I am proscribing moral relativism.  For instance, I think my meta-ethic superior to yours in moral outcomes and potentially social and economic outcomes, but I have not tried to change your moral system to comply with mine even if I do condemn yours.  In the event that 'my' system where the norm, yours would still be free to exist.  I did not claim to support either the deontological or consequentalist constructions, but chose one similar to the NAP you appeared to have a problem with but not containing the loaded word 'legitimate' which I specifically objected to.

"This is a very large presumption, and is typical of libertarian arguments. You assume that such things will magically occur by themselves, but have no concept of how this would happen. This is not a way to construct viable policy." --promethics, who is dalillama
It is not a large presumption that in a market which includes dispute resolution, prevention, and enforcement that there will be options aside from one's employer for instance.  If you can demonstrate that it is moral to compel violence against someone acting peaceably but going against your will, by all means, do so.  If you can demonstrate that it is moral to restrict who is allowed to make contracts with other people (possibly in plural) when the contract does not involve using violence against people who are not directly involved, do so.  I am not arguing for a 'viable construction of policy', because I am not trying to impose policy.

"When the options are 1)work for a company that trats[sic] you like a slave, 2) work for a different company that treats you like a slave or 3) starve on the streets, the idea of freely consenting to the labor contract in question is a joke." --promethics, who is dalillama
If the contract in condition one or two is acceptable to the worker, why do you get to say otherwise?  Option three completely ignores the other option I gave, which is related to option two.  In short, you have presented a false dilemma.
"The demonstrable fix for this, which has worked where tried, unlike the libertarian plan, is a combination of strong unions, and regulations regarding what types of contract conditions are and are not acceptable. Workers' cooperatives are also a powerful addition to the mix where implemented. Unions and regulations have resulted in enormous improvements in working conditions in many countries, while laissez-faire has accomplished it in none." --promethics, who is dalillama
I gave this option of worker organization in my reply to you.  Unions and industries self regulating exist already (in a nominally laissez-faire environment), the problem persists.  Unions and industries self regulating will continue to exist in a voluntarist society.  Worker conditions also improve greatly when a company must retain workers from competition.  If you simply attempt to regulate adequate conditions into existence, in the best case you will get the minimally adequate conditions you enforce, and little or nothing more.  As an example, look at any right-to-work state entry level employee where your suggestion for policy is in place.

"Using what money, from what source? " --promethics, who is dalillama
Any form of compensation that the insurance company or DRO wants to accept.  This could be something like bitcoin for instance.  It might be a bank note, it could be a commodity or consumable good.

"So, in what way is this meaningfully different from a government? The only immediately apparent difference is that these DROs lack any means of enforcing their decisions, making them no recourse at all."--promethics, who is dalillama
A DRO is not a government because it is not a monopoly on force in any geographic location.  A DRO does enforce its decisions through arbitration, and force.  If the DRO you are thinking of contracting with has a reputation of never being able to enforce its will, you will not offer very much money for the contract.

"What does this mean? If you can't agree on a court system you have no 'legitimate' recourse? What happens when a company or individual always refuses to agree to a court with any of their accusers? What if they are only willing to use a court that they control? In reality, the situation you describe has existed in the past, among many of the Norse and some Celtic societies among others. Do you know what happened when people couldn't agree on a court? Something called a blood feud. " --promethics, who is dalillama
If at no point the aggrieved person's insurance company never agrees to a court, they take a financial loss but have already compensated the aggrieved (according to their previously agreed upon contract).  If the person accused of causing said grief's insurance company never agrees to a court, they take a financial loss.  In both cases the people actually involved in the 'crime' got what they contractually paid for, and two companies had an argument over one owing the other damages.  In the case that someone 'gets away' with some kind of crime they will still suffer from their insurance company probably never dealing with them again (which probably results in a financial loss of higher rates with a competitor).  Also, forgive my skepticism of the idea that the Celts or Norse had the idea of risk mitigation and insurance.  Third party resolution is of course an old idea, but when the reputation of the third party is how they make their living (and it is not an imposed reputation) it is in their financial interest to continue to have at least the image of being fair.

"This is simply untrue. Debts to the company store have been recognized by the U.S. and state governments, and many governments of other countries, as well as the municipal governments of the company towns themselves, which often consist directly of corporate officers." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is a non sequitur.  I am not discussing which states agree to which debts (and they do not all agree to honor all debts).
"Charity has historically been and remains wildly insufficient to care for the number of destitute who presently exist, let alone new ones created by bucking the company." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is not a problem solved under any political system.  Totalitarian governments will claim to solve it.  Democracies have the means to solve it any time they choose to.  Voluntarism dictates that if you want to help, then help.  No one will stop you, but you are not owed other people's things just because you want them.
"Unions, as I noted above, are a way to fight these phenomena, but trying to organize one will lead to at minimum the consequences I noted in my article, and in many cases direct legal consequences as well, depending on local law, as well as extrajudicial violence by representatives of the company." --promethics, who is dalillama
Unions (can) exist in a voluntarist society.  Direct legal consequences, and 'extrajudicial' violence are both handled the same way I have already described.

"Faith claim once again. There have been many decades for such a thing to occur, but the only financial institutions that appear in these areas are payday lenders, who charge usurious interest on tiny loans. There is no regulatory monopoly on banks or credit unions; anyone is free to start one any time. All it takes is capital, and people who know how to run a bank. So, money and education, which are in very short supply in these areas because of the existing redlining." --promethics, who is dalillama
It is not a faith claim to point out the foundational premise of capitalism is the foundational premise of capitalism, it is a tautology.  You have made a false equivalence argument.  There can not have been decades for this to occur when there have not been decades of a modern banking system and a lack of fiat currency, or state regulation manipulated by industry lobbying.  There is in fact a regulatory monopoly on banking and credit unions, and currency which differs slightly depending on which sate you happen to be standing in.  That you do not acknowledge it does not make it less true.  Also, if it were the case that people with an education, and capitol, were free to do as they choose in this geographic location (and they do not need to live in said area, or ever go there), and they recognize a segment of the market that is underserved then at least some of them are likely to try and serve it.  Banking is just about the surest way to make money since the invention of money as a surrogate for goods.  Can you imagine a racists glee at making what is essentially free money off of people (s)he despises  and then using it to oppress them in some other way (lobbying for voting regulation for a timely example).  This is essentially what the pay-day loan companies are.  They do not have to compete with a commercial banks for their customers, and so everyone suffers.

"This is true only if you agree that such things as the Community Reinvestment Act are valid acts of government, which appears to contradict your earlier statement that “A financial institution is in a voluntarist society totally free to not service some geographic region." --promethics, who is dalillama
I think you have been confused.  A democracy can do anything the majority decides it can do.  This includes 'the Community Reinvestment Act' or anything else.  A voluntarist society does not have state necessarily tied to a geographic location, or a state at all.  In that way, there is no contradiction because 'any law you want to name other than the NAP' can not be imposed except by people who are choosing to live in a community who all agree to abide by it.  These people are typically called mutualists.

"Faith claim. People routinely do things which lower their earning potential for a variety of motivations. Greed is not the be all and end all of human endeavour[sic]." --promethics, who is dalillama  
You presume that value only applies to money.  If people act in a way that costs them money but gains them something else, this is still acting in their interest, it is still 'greed' that is the motivator.  People acting against their interest, like setting themselves on fire as a form of protest, do also happen but it is very rare.  So, no, this is not a faith claim it is another tautology of capitalism which hinges on you understanding that a market value applies to things other than money.

"I used this as an example of social coercion/aggression. This is an act of aggression which harms and restricts the liberty of others, but is AFAICT allowed by your ethical system. You claim that it will wither by itself through the magic of voluntarism, but you offer no mechanism for this." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is kind of a slippery statement.  Someone being hateful or bigoted, or simply ignorant can cause harm which is not necessarily violent or economic.  The caveat to this is that an emperor has no intrinsic powers that the praetorian does not posses.  The person being harmed is free to try to cause social or economic harm to the offending person within voluntarist ethics.  I did not claim it would wither or that voluntarism had a magic cure.  I claimed it was immoral (within voluntarism) to impose a solution on someone who is unwilling to accept it.  I would also further claim that (within voluntarism) it is immoral to take resources from someone without their consent to do anything (even if that thing is unquestionably good and perfectly efficient).

"Once again, we know what happens when schools are set up willy nilly without standards. It is not a hypothetical question. Right now there are dozens of non-accredited colleges in the U.S., which offer degrees not worth the electrons they're printed with. Non-accredited primary schools are mostly creationist bible academies teaching no facts whatsoever. When there are no standards for education, the overall quality of education goes down, and when there is no public education many people simply never receive any, because they are priced out of the market and unable to afford school. This ultimately harms everyone since a populace with a minimum education is needed to sustain a technological society. " --promethics, who is dalillama
Those schools are actually a fantastic example.  They operate right next to admittedly better schools because they fill a market niche.  People clearly want to pay these schools money for a diploma, though I would like to point out (as sort of a pedantic point) the diplomas are not printed 'with' electrons.  You argue that when there are no standards for education the quality goes down, and I would point you to developing nations as the obvious counter example to this.  On the other side you can look at how much money is spent on American public education and ask why it does not compete with for example South Korea.  China has a population with people who never go beyond what Americans would consider a grade-school level education (and not a particularly honest education at that) and they are clearly sustaining a technological society or they would not be building iPhones for Americans (the same is true of South Korea though their education system is a bit better across the board).  There are also countries like Japan where part of the primary education is completely voluntary.  You could never show up, come in and take a university entrance exam (and if you did well) move on.  All of these countries also have a thriving private education enterprise which is not very strictly controlled by their respective governments (and in some cases is completely black market).  As to American problems, like creationists teaching their children garbage, there is very little you are going to do about that short of taking the kids away from the parents.

"This is exactly what has been done, yes. The Civil Rights act of 1964, the Community Reinvesment Act of 1977, for example, outlaw certain types of marginalization, although enforcement of the latter has been spotty, leading to somewhat less effectiveness. There have also been massive public and private resources devoted to convincing people not to marginalize others, which has resulted in a generation which polls routinely show to be more tolerant of ethnic and sexual minorities than any other in American history. It works." --promethics, who is dalillama
There are no such things as public resources, the idea that they are different pies that you can take slices from is incorrect.  It is especially wrong when one part of the pie controls the currency  (and what it is worth) that is acceptable exchange for the rest of the pie.  I also did not say this had not been done, or that it did not in some ways work (it clearly has).  I said taking resources from person A without their consent is theft, without regard to who takes the resources.  The tyranny of the majority does not make it more moral.  The fact that the majority decided to take the money to do something 'good' also does not make it not theft.

"Following that moral stance will not, in fact, result in the outcomes which proponents claim it will. If it does not result in the desired outcomes, it is useless as a standard of behavior. " --promethics, who is dalillama
The NAP (depending on which one you are following) leads to the outcome of not violating the NAP.  It leads to the outcome of committing zero aggression, within the definitions of aggression used.  The fact that this is not the behavior you or that I might desire does not come in to it.

'"Regime' in this context means 'a set of conditions under which a society acts.' " --promethics, who is dalillama
There is no 'society acts' in a voluntarist group.  The collective does not decide anything.  The order is spontaneous, the conditions are market generated and influenced (and influenceable).  If you want to live in a marxist commune, for example, no voluntarist will stop you.

"The trolley problem, in addition to being a useless thought experiment, has no relevance whatsoever to the topic of economic externalities, or for that matter to the discussion of economic coercion. You have still not addressed how the two situations are different." --promethics, who is dalillama
As stated in the link I provided, the trolley problem solution (amongst other things in said paper) is an example of the way voluntarists (and libertarians more specifically) reason with problems of choice containing externalities.  This is the 'libertarian' definition of an economic choice.  Also I did provide an explanation, though I clearly used words that caused you to disregard the explanation, so I will try again.  When someone is denied an economic opportunity, like food, (because they can not afford it), this is not the fault of the person with the good that is desired by that person, who is under no moral obligation to trade below the market value for a good if they do not want to.  If that person dies, it is not the fault of the last business to not sell them food, but a confluence of events which lead to the final lack of food killing them.  When a person puts a gun to someone else's head and compels an action, they have violated consent (and are already violating the NAP), if they pull the trigger they are now liable for damages claims from anyone who was harmed by the financial ripples of this.  Both cases are sad, one of them is a morally permissible action (or series of actions) and the other is a morally wrong choice (within the NAP at least).  I am obviously not arguing for however your meta-ethic works.

3 comments:

promethics said...

The NAP does not predict an outcome, or really try and shape an outcome for society (or a person).

Then what the hell is it for?
Person A believes that the government can solve problem X with a given policy Q.
1. Person B believes that the government can not solve problem X with policy Q.
2. Person A accuses person B of being opposed to solving problem X.

If you are opposed to proposed workable solutions to a problem and have no workable solutions of your own to offer, you are opposed to solving that problem. So far, you have offered no workable solutions to any of the problems I've outlined, while attacking the solutions that are working. This means, in practice, that you are opposed to those problems getting solved.
This is not because they disagree about the moral goodness of the outcome or necessarily that the government could arrive at the moral good, but that it would use means which are immoral in order to get to the moral good.

If your morality is opposed to pragmatic problem solving, then it is worthless; why should I take it any more seriously than biblical morality, which has a similar set of arbitrary rules which prohibit many forms of useful problem solving to no benefit to anyone? Based on this, I am ignoring all but one of t he further moral claims which you make. I will continue to address the empirical problems with your article.
All moral positions, at their grounding are arbitrary. 
This is untrue. See the first post in my blog for an outline of why.

promethics said...

It is not a large presumption that in a market which includes dispute resolution, prevention, and enforcement that there will be options aside from one's employer for instance.
It is a large presumption that such a market could exist in the first place. Everyone hiring the best private security they can afford rapidly turns to warlordism.
In short, you have presented a false dilemma.
I have not. The reality is that most people have an extremely limited selection of employers, and in the absence of a social safety net, very little time to hold out for a better offer.
Unions and industries self regulating exist already (in a nominally laissez-faire environment), the problem persists.
I did not say 'self-regulating.' I said that regulations, in addition to unions, are needed to solve these problems. By this, I mean regulations imposed by the state. As you have pointed out, expecting industries or unions to self-regulate is futile.
Any form of compensation that the insurance company or DRO wants to accept.  This could be something like bitcoin for instance.  It might be a bank note, it could be a commodity or consumable good.
The question was : If you are destitute because your employer has been paying you insufficient wages to meet your cost of living, how do you afford insurance premiums?
A DRO is not a government because it is not a monopoly on force in any geographic location.  A DRO does enforce its decisions through arbitration, and force. 
Once again, this is warlordism. Whoever can hire the DRO with the most force in a region becomes the de facto government. Anyone who wants to change it will have to hire their own heavily-armed DRO, and then everybody gets the joys of living on a battlefield. This is a bad plan.
This is not a problem solved under any political system
Blatantly untrue. In most of Western Europe, private charity is a minimal part of the economy, because there have been social safety nets put into place to take up the slack that private charity never has.
It is not a faith claim to point out the foundational premise of capitalism is the foundational premise of capitalism, it is a tautology. 
Although this is a foundational claim of Austrian School capitalism, it remains a faith claim. Von Mises himself stated that he did not accept that his theories could be empirically falsified, which once again puts him on the same level as the bible. Scientific economists do not use as an axiom the idea that economic institutions will simply arise wherever there is need.
On the other side you can look at how much money is spent on American public education and ask why it does not compete with for example South Korea.
Among other reasons, because South Korea has a strong national curriculum, including every high (government enforced) standards, focusing on science and fact-based education. In the U.S., by contrast, every district sets their own standards, and many district PTAs are infested with creationists ,science-deniers and historical revisionists of various stripes, leading to extremely poor curricula in those areas and students who are utterly uneducated after twelve years.
  The order is spontaneous, the conditions are market generated and influenced (and influenceable). 
Provide evidence that this will occur. In the past, failure of governments has not resulted in this outcome.
As stated in the link I provided, the trolley problem solution (amongst other things in said paper) is an example of the way voluntarists (and libertarians more specifically) reason with problems of choice containing externalities.
I'm aware that libertarians don't like to think about externalities, but that does not address the fact that they occur, and must be dealt with.

Gaius Tacitus said...

You will find replies to the above comments here: http://twopideltaij.blogspot.jp/2012/08/the-usual-objections-failure-of.html

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