Become a Socialist, Its Easy as Pie!

Apparently believing government should in some way regulate business makes you an automatic socialist.

Hmmm.  So that makes me one.  And yet I oppose “Socialist Roads”.

A socialist opposing socialist road taxes?  How dash clever of me.

Or perhaps not everyone who criticizes Ron Paul is a socialist.

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19 Responses

  1. Well, I think the argument is that once government regulations creep in, it becomes impossible to get it out; and it continually grows like a cancer.

    I mean, maybe you are a socialist, and maybe you aren’t. However, one has to be conscious of where particular policy choices will lead. Has government done a good job of regulating anything? No.

    There’s one exception, possibly, and that’s the environment. I haven’t read up on Rothbard’s ideas re: the environment, so I can’t effectively address that. But all other cases (drugs, driving, alcohol, firearms, corporations, etc) are pretty clear to me: government sucks, and badly.

    So, if it sucks, why allow it? I’d really like you to succinctly explain what your fears re: corporations are. We had somewhat of a discussion going in the other thread, but this would be a fine place as well.

  2. I’ve traveled and I’ve all over the country.

    One thing I notice about states with GOP majorities is the sneaky way they tax things — like roads. Even though the roads were paid for with gasoline tax many times over.

    They’re getting ready to launch this system in Jesusland, AKA, Texas. I have friends who are leaving the state rather than pay $8 dollars of tolls to get to work.

  3. This “socialist” argument is always bogus. I’m not a socialist, but the fact of the matter is there’s nothing wrong with a little socialism. The US federal government is set up on a foundation of some “socialism” which starts with the basic assumption of human equality and equal access to resources.

    The government isn’t perfect. But neither are corporations. Unregulated corporations repeatedly prove themselves to be unconscionably evil, knowingly polluting neighborhoods, knowingly poisoning people, murdering strikers, manipulating federal imminent domain clauses.

    Furthermore, there has always been subsidies which often amount to nothing more than corporate welfare. Which means, of course, that corporations often beg for regulation of free markets. How could it be that corporations…the most capitalist of organisms would want to regulate the free market?

  4. To quickly qualify…

    not _all_ corporations prove themselves to be unconscionably evil, but corporations as a group which is what government regulations…er….regulate.

  5. If federal eminent domain clauses are manipulable, they need to get gone. Hey, looky there, I solved a problem! (bpat)

    There may be nothing wrong with a little socialism – for example, public environmental testing or something on a local level in a small area – but the problem is WHERE DO YOU STOP IT? And how can you stop it? History has shown that once it crept in, it has been impossible to get rid of and has only grown over time. Was the New Deal meant to last forever? Maybe, maybe not. Is it the best way to do things? Absolutely not.

    A completely unregulated Free Market doesn’t suddenly, automagically on day two end up with 5 guys owning the entire planet and the rest of us as landless serfs. The market place is voluntary, you have to sell your goods or labor to someone else who has to pay you for it. That’s the point, it is an exchange.

    This would also help out in the environmental justice arena, where communities of color often have to face excessive amounts of landfills, chemical plants, refineries, power plants, etc in their vicinity. Because of state and federal siting laws and regulations. A free market, and I mean completely free, would enable those communities to say NO to polluters. No more eminent domain abuses, eh.

  6. 1. Bret,
    Well we just need to discipline our regulations.
    I mean, eating can spiral out of control, but we still have to eat.

    The government has regulated a number of things rather well.
    Look at labor laws to start.

    Corporations can, if not regulated, force all employees to work 80 hour weeks in unairconditioned rooms. If they are the only gig in town, thems the breaks. They can charge ridiculous sums if there is no competition, they can advertise falsely with impunity. They can lie about their products and ship you broken merchandise. They can dump toxic waste into your neighborhood without any consequences. These are a few of my unfavorite things.

    2. Christopher,
    It is pretty dishonest.

    3. JimPanzee,
    Good call. It often serves in the place of an actual argument.

    We have to fight against this ignorance of the worst of the corporate crimes.

    4. JimPanzee,
    It is enough that some, if not regulated, do truly awful things. It is the argument for having laws of any kind. Obviously you need to balance rights and responsibilities.

    5. Bret,
    Where you stop it is a matter for debate.
    A market unregulated by governments yields a market regulated by corporations. Its a power vacuum, that has been filled in the past by robber barons and conglomerates lacking ethics.

    A voluntary market works both ways. You agree to purchase, but someone also has to agree to sell. If there is only one seller (or no seller), then what?

  7. If no seller – make the product yourself? Clearly there is a market opportunity there. One cannot look continually to others to provide for one’s needs.

  8. 7. Bret,
    Motherboards and RAM. Cars. There is an extensive list of products that one cannot simply make by one’s self. If you are willing to give up certain advantages more sophisticated production affords, then yes, you can avoid looking to others to a great extent.

  9. No no, you misunderstand. “Self” does not mean in your garage with some silly putty and paper clips. “Self” means you take the initiative to form to company to design the products to capitalize on the absence of it in the market.

    Entrepreneurs founded all the companies that created motherboards, RAM, and cars. And everything, everything else. That’s the point. When there are no avenues for “robber barons” to collude with the government, there can be no “regulation” of the market by those robber barons.

    If it is not feasible for a government to obtain global hegemony, how is it supposedly feasible for “robber barons” to do so even on the scale of a country, let alone the worldwide marketplace?

  10. Without regulation when a robber baron decides to commit unsavory acts as a means of limiting or removing his competition (through vertical monopoly for example) there is not “government collusion” to stop him from doing so.

    Take the old steel mills for example. Carnegie could smelt all the steel he needed to build his fortune and most of the steel for the nation. There wasn’t _enough_ market incentive to try to go around his smelting bottleneck but workers and manufacturers suffered for his greed. When they attempted to go around his bottleneck he just bought the mines out from under them, or he bought the train cars or the loaders that got the ore to and from the plants. He just owned it all.

    The argument that Carnegie got rich prior to his monopoly through various forms of government collusion doesn’t hold much weight either. I mean, if you started deregulation now, would you also enforce a preemptive redistribution of assets so that we all start from the same level?

    Furthermore, globalization has already helped companies circumvent the regulations we already have. The result is that plants in Indonesia or Sri Lanka (et al) can avoid the cries of the people demanding cleaner air or higher wages because they aren’t the customer…they are not the means by which the company gets rich. Americans have sadly not gone along with a majority of voluntary boycotts that could help end mistreatments of workers abroad. So the answer is … strike? They have, look at Shell Oil in Nigeria. Strikes in third world countries, like they did in 19th Century America often end in bloodshed.

    Some of these occur with government collusion, some of them are allowed to happen because of a lack of it.

    If men were angels…

  11. You are ignoring one simple fact.

    When Carnegie offers to buy up the competition, THEY STILL HAVE TO AGREE TO SELL. If it is lucrative enough, they will not sell. It’s that simple.

    This is a manufactured “problem” that does not exist in reality.

    And I will note for you that part of the manufactured problem is the availability of massive cheap credit/capital, because of … the Federal Reserve. All of you oppressed workers advocates need to understand that the Fed is the engine of oppression.

  12. I pulled my example from reality. You denying it’s existence doesn’t actually get rid of it. And you’re right, each person that Carnegie paid off agreed to a price (provided they weren’t violently cajoled) but it was not to the detriment of those that sold but to those who came later…the entrepreneurs who couldn’t get investors interested in the no-name with the noble cause. “Go against Carnegie!?!? How? Come back to us when you have all the money you need to win.”

    Future free marketeers shouldn’t have to suffer because of the wicked combo of the greed and short-sightedness of those that came before. A combo, I might add, that betrays the free market you seem to admire.

    The original free market theorists did not have a solid foundation in the “economies of scale” models or demand flexibilities (Ricardo, Smith). They therefore concluded that a best-case scenario would include pure competition. They did not anticipate that absolutely free markets would always find their way back to monopolies (Capitalism was supposed to be the cure for mercantilist monopolies of the 17th and 18th centuries) and that, even worse, private citizens could control the distribution of public necessities like water.

    Sorry. Corporations are amoral at best, murderous at worst. While there is a lot to be gained by a moderately open market there will always have to be regulation because corporations do not have human interests at heart except when those human interest align themselves with their profit motive. Customers are always right, but when your customer is thousands of miles from the workforce you exploit there is no accountability and people will suffer the consequences while other people pay for it and a very tiny group of people will profit off it. People profiting off the suffering of others has never been right and its high time that people stopped using “economic science” as a means of defending their greed.

  13. I still do not see the big deal. What does a monopoly breed? Competition and dissolution. This is why hegemony is doomed. It’s cyclical. Assuming arguendo that a company is indeed able to become “all powerful” and control everything, which I find highly dubious, at a point in the model it becomes lucrative for others to create their own cheaper solutions. Monopoly thus is its own end.

    You seem to be reducing market dynamics to some sort of talking-point storyboard frame. That’s fine, but it’s clear that what you’re saying is nothing more than propaganda … “profiting off the suffering of others” … as if you or I were slaving away in some dusty mine with a pickaxe. Now who’s talking reality, heh.

    No, corporations do not have “human interests” at heart, but who cares? Humans have human interests at heart. We buy the products we enjoy, or need to extend or benefit our lives. Without someone producing these things, they disappear. The government does not innovate, people do. It’s not a defense of greed, it’s a defense of natural human interest. People want to better themselves. Government is not a stick that you can use to make that happen.

    At any rate, we should note that the president is not the one who’s supposed to control commerce, as that power is given to Congress. Of course there are a lot of positives the president can do, such as getting rid of the IRS and the Federal Reserve. Eliminating taxes and inflation alleviates an enormous burden on the poor that you appear to ignore, I’m presuming because it comes from the hallowed central planning committee.

  14. I may have gotten a little “talking points-ish” I just happen to believe in those cute little catch phrases. I’m not slaving away in a dusty mine but not through the machinations of the corporate world. Technological advancement, a different economic base, and government regulations have gotten rid of both of those parts (“slaving” and “mine”) for me.

    You’re partially right in term of innovation. Governments do politically innovate but I know that’s not what we’re talking about here. But when the government realized it needed a firmer communications base it donated millions of dollars (and an ample bit of technology) to AT&T. It had innovated the technology to a certain point but realized that to (socially and politically) profit off its results it required the consumer base and the further innovation it would demand. I agree that technological innovation best comes from a competitive and responsive free market. But not free without limitation. A fancier cell phone is not worth the price of unwarranted human suffering (again, sorry if that is too TP-ish but just because I’m not slaving away doesn’t mean that nobody is).

    But I don’t think that governments are all good either.But governments (theoretically at least) do have human interests at heart. The social contract goes from the bottom up and representatives answer to their constituencies. I have my complaints about all manner of government activity, one of which is regulation. (Others involve taxation, lack of accountability, lack of transparency, lack of responsiveness etc, but that is outside the bounds of this conversation too).

    I’m not saying any and all regulation is good, but you are saying that any and all regulation is bad…or at least you haven’t admitted to any such good regulation. (for the record, I think subsidies and tax abatements are bad.) You ask, if we start regulating…where do we stop? Seeing as how I have offered evidence to support why we should regulate, I will go ahead and turn the question back to you. If you start deregulating, I ask…where do you stop?

    And as far as monopolies serving their own demise…not true at all. The feudal and mercantile monopolies lasted for centuries and might have lasted forever were it not for the imperialistic age that made managing monopolies too hard, paving the way for capitalism. I’m not willing to wait that long for my own needs to met. Monopolies don’t have to control “everything” they need only control the integral variable units of their own commodities chain. That is far easier to do in the corporate setting than a in the national one and far easier to sustain. The analogy is wholly false. Sure, if prices get too bad a monopoly will “compete” with itself to stay in business but it is still an unwelcome variant of the free market pure competition model which forces a maximizing of resources.

  15. fitnessfortheoccasion…

    I feel we (by which I mean “mostly I”) have hijacked your blog. Sorry. if you would prefer we take this conversation elsewhere…through email or through one of our own sites…I’ll be happy to do that….

    Bret,
    I’m happy to note that you have kept the conversation friendly and informative. I’m finding less and less of that lately. Thanks. (Except that jab about the “hallowed central planning committee.” I don’t know who they are but I don’t think I like them very much.)

  16. I’m a geologist. Well, former geologist, law student now. Anyway, based on that background, I tend to look at things on long time scales and as dynamic systems. I think that is why I feel that a monopoly will eat itself out of business in due time. It is not effecient, and thus will die. Great example: little rodents out competing Dinosaurs in the long run.

    I’m glad you concede that the free market competition model forces maximization of resources. 🙂

    At any rate – the “central planning committee” jab was aimed at the Federal Reserve, which is the real evil enemy, not corporations themselves. This is the type of “corporatism,” or what I call crony capitalism, that Ron Paul spoke against to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

    As for hijacking – if it truly bothered him, I imagine he’d stop approving the comments, they are moderated after all. Personally, I think semi-intelligent commentary makes a post look better, but then, I would think that, wouldn’t I!

  17. I lied, they’re not moderated apparently. Woops!

    HIJACK AWAY, YARRRRRRRrrrrr

  18. For my part, I have BAs in English, Intl Stud, Phil, and Spanish but I currently work in the non-profit field making humanities education more accessible. I like human-side analyses.

    Economic growth is fine but it’s not an end, its a means. I do concede that pure competition models maximize resources but maximizing resources is not an end; it’s a means. What good is the means if it runs contrary to the end?…in some cases means and ends aren’t comparable but in terms of economic development they are one and the same: the increase in human joy, comfort or happiness (pick your utilitarian model of choice). The majority should choose a path of economic development that benefits the majority.

    And sometimes, perhaps even generally, they do. Oligarchic powers rise up though, sometimes through government collusion, sometimes naturally.

    I’m generally a fan of free markets but it is naive to assume there aren’t winners _and_ losers and I’ve not met anyone who honestly believes there shouldn’t be some safeguards put on the amoral principals of the pure free market. For one thing, the unintended consequences are completely unpredictable. We have never had a purely free market. Our markets are getting freer from the mercantilist era (with some backtrack right after the Civil War and again right before the Great Depression). Secondly, production caps and subsidies are generally requested by the agents of the so-called free market, corporations. It would be unfair of me to sink the argument based on the hypocrisy of its promulgators, but I’m not seeing much honest support of zero regulation because capitalism just doesn’t and hasn’t ever worked that way.

    Your law student status provides a reason why you are so concerned with the “slippery slope”of allowing any regulation. But your familiarity with how courts generally favor the status quo at the beginning of any question, and of course your personal awareness that the status quo today supports government regulation should inform you that the slippery slope runs both ways (we are forever on a very slippery precipice, I guess).

    BTW good article in the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine. It’s largely anti-IMF/World Bank for the way they have distorted capitalist principals causing a wave of anti-capitalist fervor in the “developing” world.

  19. Wolfowitz surely contributed a lot to that problem. These people (the Wolfowitzes, the Perles, the Cheneys) do not want peace and prosperity; they want global hegemony. We don’t have some super technology yet to make that feasible, so keeping the poor folks down is their next best avenue. Every couple of years, bomb them back into submission. That’s their plan, in a nutshell.

    You ever seen the Zeitgeist movie? There was a pretty good explanation (in the first half of part 3) of how the Bad Guys created the Bank Panics of the early 1900s to set the stage for the Federal Reserve and income taxation in 1913.

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