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  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
    Jason and Mike, I have forwarded your posts to Eric, so that he will know what is said should he wish to respond. Since your posts were on a similar topic and
    Message 1 of 26 , Dec 12, 2002
      Jason and Mike, I have forwarded your posts to Eric, so that he will know
      what is said should he wish to respond. Since your posts were on a similar
      topic and you made similar comments, I shall address them in one post.

      Turning limited liability corporations into large-scale full-liability
      partnerships would be to impose the kind of collective responsibility for
      actions which Jason abhors when applied to those in the World Trade
      Center vis a vis imperialism. Still, I would think this would be a good
      thing, if workable. With the large number of partners that massed capital
      requires, however, it is unlikely that an individual partner can be aware
      of each decision and the responsibility that comes with it, but nonetheless
      that's one of the risks assumed in investing, and that's why there would
      be liability insurance. The LLC was indeed developed by people who wanted
      to reap profits and escape responsibility. That is to be expected when
      you have a government by the bourgeoisie (money talks and merit walks).
      Libertarians generally represent the petit-bourgeoisie rather than the
      grand bourgeoisie, and thus would be engaging in class struggle by trying
      to impose such restrictions, whether or not they recognize it.

      Requiring the use of electronic toll technology to use the roads to pay
      any toll the owner dictated would severely restrict how people could
      travel and use their own property, and I would argue would be a use of
      property that would infringe on the well-being of others. It's not as
      if there's "free competition" where roads are concerned. Many times you
      have to travel on a certain road to get to a certain place, and the owner
      of that road would be able to extort any toll one was able to pay. The
      same would be true of waterways.

      Pollution lawsuits would be extremely complicated and it would be
      next to impossible to assign responsibility. A loser-pays system
      would only deprive those affected of the right to sue if they couldn't
      prove damage, so it would de facto absolve polluters of responsibility.

      Since private property involves extraction of surplus value, I would argue
      that it always harms the interests of others and therefore cannot be a
      right for all.

      --Kevin
    • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
      ... liability ... responsibility for ... No, what happened in the world trade center was like suing everyone who lives on the same block as one of the partners
      Message 2 of 26 , Dec 13, 2002
        --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
        > Turning limited liability corporations into large-scale full-
        liability
        > partnerships would be to impose the kind of collective
        responsibility for
        > actions which Jason abhors when applied to those in the World Trade
        > Center vis a vis imperialism.

        No, what happened in the world trade center was like suing everyone
        who lives on the same block as one of the partners in a business that
        made faulty products.

        > Still, I would think this would be a good
        > thing, if workable. With the large number of partners that massed
        capital
        > requires, however, it is unlikely that an individual partner can be
        aware
        > of each decision and the responsibility that comes with it, but
        nonetheless
        > that's one of the risks assumed in investing, and that's why there
        would
        > be liability insurance. The LLC was indeed developed by people who
        wanted
        > to reap profits and escape responsibility.

        Glad we agree on something. :-)

        > That is to be expected when
        > you have a government by the bourgeoisie (money talks and merit
        walks).

        Merit never talks in government, under any system. That's why its
        powers should be strictly limited.

        > Libertarians generally represent the petit-bourgeoisie rather than
        the
        > grand bourgeoisie, and thus would be engaging in class struggle by
        trying
        > to impose such restrictions, whether or not they recognize it.

        Could you define "petit-bourgeoisie" and "grand bourgeoisie", and
        what you mean by "trying to impose such restrictions"? Removing a
        government give-away of free liability protection for corporations is
        not "imposing a restriction". It is removing a subsidy.

        > Requiring the use of electronic toll technology to use the roads to
        pay
        > any toll the owner dictated would severely restrict how people
        could
        > travel and use their own property, and I would argue would be a use
        of
        > property that would infringe on the well-being of others. It's not
        as
        > if there's "free competition" where roads are concerned. Many
        times you
        > have to travel on a certain road to get to a certain place, and the
        owner
        > of that road would be able to extort any toll one was able to pay.
        The
        > same would be true of waterways.

        Invariably, once the mechanism for private roads is discussed the
        next objection is the one above, what about the guy who owns the only
        road to someplace. :-)

        This is in many respects the same situation as cellular coverage.
        There are quite a few really remote spots with only one cellphone
        tower. Do you pay a roaming fee to use it? Probably. Is the fee
        exorbitant? No. The owners of such towers have learned by
        experience (it wasn't always this way) that making their tower a part
        of a "network" results in more revenue than going it alone and trying
        to charge a separate and much higher fee.

        There are quite a few very nice places which even today are only
        accessible on foot, horseback, or helicopter -- because there are
        ZERO roads to them. What is the cost associated with getting to
        those places? Fairly large (money and/or time), but by no means
        insurmountable. The situation you postulate with a greedy owner of
        the one, private road to a very desirable place could be
        theoretically no worse than a place with ZERO roads. The economic
        cost of viable alternatives sets a price ceiling on what the owner of
        a single access road could possibly charge. But consider, if the
        owner of the only road to a desirable place set his price such that
        traveling the road was as expensive as taking the time to walk in or
        flying in on a helicopter, he would get very few customers, and his
        investment in the road would not return as much as it would if he
        charged a lower price and attracted more customers.

        As roads were privatized there would almost certainly be contracts
        akin to Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions that would be part of
        the property deeds. At a minimum such CC&R's would likely require
        free passage to the owners of property to which that road was the
        only access. In the case of most remote areas served by only one
        road, the owner(s) of property in the area would be likely to either
        buy the road or sell their property to the owner of the road...in
        either case the owner of the road would have every incentive to make
        it accessible.

        We could go on and on about the feasiblity of private roads.
        Eventually it comes down to the much more general (and interesting)
        question of whether or not private property and markets work in terms
        of providing goods and services that people want. I see a great deal
        of evidence that markets do work, and I have no reason to believe
        that transportation mechanisms present an exception to the general
        case of markets working.

        > Pollution lawsuits would be extremely complicated and it would be
        > next to impossible to assign responsibility. A loser-pays system
        > would only deprive those affected of the right to sue if they
        couldn't
        > prove damage, so it would de facto absolve polluters of
        responsibility.

        I don't understand what you're saying here. In economic terms only,
        if you are affected by pollution and can prove either a significant
        damage to yourself or a small damage to many people, it makes
        economic sense to sue. If you can't, it doesn't. In either case you
        have a right to sue. Only in the case of a small damage to a small
        number of people could a polluter avoid responsibility in an economic
        sense. Once you throw in the possibility of punitive damages it
        becomes very unprofitable to pollute.

        > Since private property involves extraction of surplus value, I
        would argue
        > that it always harms the interests of others and therefore cannot
        be a
        > right for all.

        I don't think it makes a lot of sense to talk about "surplus value",
        since surplus means something above and beyond what is planned for,
        needed, or desired. A value being something which is desired, having
        a surplus of it seems nonsensical. Economically speaking, there are
        returns to labor and returns to capital. If returns to capital is
        equivalent to surplus value in your lexicon, then just say so and
        I'll simply substitute the term so that we can talk intelligently.
        If suplus value is not equivalent to the economic returns to capital,
        then please explain exactly what it is.

        --Jason Auvenshine
      • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
        ... Only if the people on that block benefited from the making of faulty products. The people in the trade center benefited from imperialism and were justly
        Message 3 of 26 , Dec 13, 2002
          >
          >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
          >> Turning limited liability corporations into large-scale full-
          >liability
          >> partnerships would be to impose the kind of collective
          >responsibility for
          >> actions which Jason abhors when applied to those in the World Trade
          >> Center vis a vis imperialism.
          >
          >No, what happened in the world trade center was like suing everyone
          >who lives on the same block as one of the partners in a business that
          >made faulty products.

          Only if the people on that block benefited from the making of faulty
          products. The people in the trade center benefited from imperialism
          and were justly punished for same.

          >> Still, I would think this would be a good
          >> thing, if workable. With the large number of partners that massed
          >capital
          >> requires, however, it is unlikely that an individual partner can be
          >aware
          >> of each decision and the responsibility that comes with it, but
          >nonetheless
          >> that's one of the risks assumed in investing, and that's why there
          >would
          >> be liability insurance. The LLC was indeed developed by people who
          >wanted
          >> to reap profits and escape responsibility.
          >
          >Glad we agree on something. :-)
          >
          >> That is to be expected when
          >> you have a government by the bourgeoisie (money talks and merit
          >walks).
          >
          >Merit never talks in government, under any system. That's why its
          >powers should be strictly limited.

          Merit does indeed talk, if the government represents the general
          interests of the people rather than a specific class.

          >> Libertarians generally represent the petit-bourgeoisie rather than
          >the
          >> grand bourgeoisie, and thus would be engaging in class struggle by
          >trying
          >> to impose such restrictions, whether or not they recognize it.
          >
          >Could you define "petit-bourgeoisie" and "grand bourgeoisie", and
          >what you mean by "trying to impose such restrictions"? Removing a
          >government give-away of free liability protection for corporations is
          >not "imposing a restriction". It is removing a subsidy.

          No, it is no subsidy.

          Petit-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production
          who use primarilly their own labour.

          Grand-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production who
          use primarilly the labour of others.

          >> Requiring the use of electronic toll technology to use the roads to
          >pay
          >> any toll the owner dictated would severely restrict how people
          >could
          >> travel and use their own property, and I would argue would be a use
          >of
          >> property that would infringe on the well-being of others. It's not
          >as
          >> if there's "free competition" where roads are concerned. Many
          >times you
          >> have to travel on a certain road to get to a certain place, and the
          >owner
          >> of that road would be able to extort any toll one was able to pay.
          >The
          >> same would be true of waterways.
          >
          >Invariably, once the mechanism for private roads is discussed the
          >next objection is the one above, what about the guy who owns the only
          >road to someplace. :-)
          >
          >This is in many respects the same situation as cellular coverage.
          >There are quite a few really remote spots with only one cellphone
          >tower. Do you pay a roaming fee to use it? Probably. Is the fee
          >exorbitant? No. The owners of such towers have learned by
          >experience (it wasn't always this way) that making their tower a part
          >of a "network" results in more revenue than going it alone and trying
          >to charge a separate and much higher fee.

          Simply because it is easier to go without cellular phone service
          than to have no means of getting to and from someplace to which
          you must have access (your home or place of work or place to obtain
          needed goods).

          >There are quite a few very nice places which even today are only
          >accessible on foot, horseback, or helicopter -- because there are
          >ZERO roads to them. What is the cost associated with getting to
          >those places? Fairly large (money and/or time), but by no means
          >insurmountable. The situation you postulate with a greedy owner of
          >the one, private road to a very desirable place could be
          >theoretically no worse than a place with ZERO roads. The economic
          >cost of viable alternatives sets a price ceiling on what the owner of
          >a single access road could possibly charge. But consider, if the
          >owner of the only road to a desirable place set his price such that
          >traveling the road was as expensive as taking the time to walk in or
          >flying in on a helicopter, he would get very few customers, and his
          >investment in the road would not return as much as it would if he
          >charged a lower price and attracted more customers.

          On the other hand if that road goes to my living quarters, I have little
          choice in the matter, and his property infringes upon my liberty.

          >As roads were privatized there would almost certainly be contracts
          >akin to Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions that would be part of
          >the property deeds. At a minimum such CC&R's would likely require
          >free passage to the owners of property to which that road was the
          >only access. In the case of most remote areas served by only one
          >road, the owner(s) of property in the area would be likely to either
          >buy the road or sell their property to the owner of the road...in
          >either case the owner of the road would have every incentive to make
          >it accessible.

          For an extremely high price.

          >We could go on and on about the feasiblity of private roads.
          >Eventually it comes down to the much more general (and interesting)
          >question of whether or not private property and markets work in terms
          >of providing goods and services that people want. I see a great deal
          >of evidence that markets do work, and I have no reason to believe
          >that transportation mechanisms present an exception to the general
          >case of markets working.

          In general markets do function reasonably well. The specific
          case of privatized roads is one case where they do not, for the
          same reason that privatized utilities do not--there is either
          price gouging that is against the public interest or needless
          duplication of resources, which also elevates price against the
          public interests.

          >> Pollution lawsuits would be extremely complicated and it would be
          >> next to impossible to assign responsibility. A loser-pays system
          >> would only deprive those affected of the right to sue if they
          >couldn't
          >> prove damage, so it would de facto absolve polluters of
          >responsibility.
          >
          >I don't understand what you're saying here. In economic terms only,
          >if you are affected by pollution and can prove either a significant
          >damage to yourself or a small damage to many people, it makes
          >economic sense to sue. If you can't, it doesn't. In either case you
          >have a right to sue. Only in the case of a small damage to a small
          >number of people could a polluter avoid responsibility in an economic
          >sense. Once you throw in the possibility of punitive damages it
          >becomes very unprofitable to pollute.

          A large number of different polluters polluting a large area could
          make it extremely difficult to sort out who is polluting what area
          and to what extent. It would be a logistical nightmare. Far better
          to keep the air public property and have anti-pollution regulations.

          >> Since private property involves extraction of surplus value, I
          >would argue
          >> that it always harms the interests of others and therefore cannot
          >be a
          >> right for all.
          >
          >I don't think it makes a lot of sense to talk about "surplus value",
          >since surplus means something above and beyond what is planned for,
          >needed, or desired. A value being something which is desired, having
          >a surplus of it seems nonsensical. Economically speaking, there are
          >returns to labor and returns to capital. If returns to capital is
          >equivalent to surplus value in your lexicon, then just say so and
          >I'll simply substitute the term so that we can talk intelligently.
          >If suplus value is not equivalent to the economic returns to capital,
          >then please explain exactly what it is.
          >
          >--Jason Auvenshine

          Surplus value is the difference between market value and necessary
          value. If that difference is negative the product or service generally
          is not available (unless subsidized from another sector of the economy).
          If that difference is positive, it is that portion of the economic returns
          to capital which does not go to those who do the work.

          --Kevin
        • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
          ... It has been my observation that people most often represent their own interests in whatever they do, and that includes government. There is nothing about
          Message 4 of 26 , Dec 15, 2002
            --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
            --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
            > >Merit never talks in government, under any system. That's why its
            > >powers should be strictly limited.
            >
            > Merit does indeed talk, if the government represents the general
            > interests of the people rather than a specific class.

            It has been my observation that people most often "represent" their
            own interests in whatever they do, and that includes government.
            There is nothing about working in government that suddenly transforms
            men into myth-like angels who look out for "the general interests of
            all the people". In fact, there is a lot about it which draws the
            most undesirable -- those who are willing to lie about their true
            motives, because that's what it takes to achieve power.

            > >> Libertarians generally represent the petit-bourgeoisie rather
            than
            > >the
            > >> grand bourgeoisie, and thus would be engaging in class struggle
            by
            > >trying
            > >> to impose such restrictions, whether or not they recognize it.
            <SNIP>
            > Petit-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production
            > who use primarilly their own labour.

            Translation: Sole proprietors who don't have employees?

            > Grand-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production
            who
            > use primarilly the labour of others.

            Translation: Stockholders of businesses, and money lenders?

            I would assume that the third major class in this postulation is the
            workers ("Proletariat"? Sorry, I'm a little rusty on my communist
            lexicon), being those who are simply employees and do not own the
            means of production.

            This whole class struggle theory seems to have little relevance to
            the real world. You seem to say Libertarians are "petit-bourgeoisie"
            which is why we are pro-market but anti-corporate. In my own case, I
            started my working life entirely as (I believe) you would classify a
            member of the "proletariat". I had no significant capital assets and
            have always been an employee. Even today, I am an employee of a
            business and derive the majority of my income from that labor.

            However, along the way I have also followed one piece of good advice,
            which is "Produce more than you consume". This policy has allowed me
            to save some money each year and to acquire some capital assets.
            These capital assets consist of my home, stock mutual funds, and a
            few fixed income investments. In that sense I suppose you'd classify
            me "grand bourgeoisie", since I do receive income in the form of
            interest, dividends, and capital appreciation. As my life progresses
            I expect to receive a greater and greater percentage of my income
            from such sources, until such time as it is enough that I can cease
            working as an employee. I just don't see how any of that fits in
            with the whole "class struggle" theory. I've never been a "petit-
            bourgeoisie" unless you count a couple of minor computer consulting
            gigs I did a few years back. I am interested in promoting peace and
            freedom because I believe they make everyone better off, including
            myself. War and slavery, on the other hand, make only a few people
            better off.

            > In general markets do function reasonably well. The specific
            > case of privatized roads is one case where they do not, for the
            > same reason that privatized utilities do not--there is either
            > price gouging that is against the public interest or needless
            > duplication of resources, which also elevates price against the
            > public interests.

            There is really no fundamental difference between a "utility" like
            electricity and the provision of any other good or service. You
            could make the same case against, say, toilet paper: Either there
            will only be one company making and selling toilet paper and they
            will gouge because of it...or there will be duplication in the toilet
            paper production and distribution which raises costs. The difference
            is one of degree, not kind.

            The problem with this kind of analysis is that it is static. You
            assume that current behavior (ie utilization of electricity from an
            electric grid) will continue unabated even in the face of "price
            gouging". People won't just sit by and pay high prices. They will
            develop substitutes, which drives technological innovation.

            For instance, those lamenting this country's dependance on fossile
            fuels fail to recognize that the anti-trust breakup of Standard Oil
            in the first part of the last century set energy innovation back by
            decades in this country. Had the "evil monopoly" been allowed to
            persist, it would have become irrelevant in relatively short order as
            effective energy substitutes were found and developed.

            Currently, local-generated electricity is economically viable only in
            areas too remote or transient to wire to the grid. What is the worst
            that would happen with a totally deregulated electric utility
            industry? The demand for local generation equipment would soar,
            causing entry into that market and an eventual rapid decline in
            prices as economies of scale were realized. Effective competition to
            an electric company doesn't have to be another electric company.

            The point is that economic conditions are never static, and analysis
            which does not take this into account misses something
            important. "Price gouging" in particular is always an (admittedly
            annoying) short term phenomenon.

            > >> Since private property involves extraction of surplus value, I
            > >would argue
            > >> that it always harms the interests of others and therefore
            cannot
            > >be a
            > >> right for all.
            <SNIP>
            > Surplus value is the difference between market value and necessary
            > value. If that difference is negative the product or service
            generally
            > is not available (unless subsidized from another sector of the
            economy).
            > If that difference is positive, it is that portion of the economic
            returns
            > to capital which does not go to those who do the work.

            What is "necessary value"? Cost of labor, or cost of labor+capital?

            --Jason Auvenshine
          • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
            ... True any government bureaucracy will include the self-serving, but as long as it is held accountable to the people, there is no reason it cannot serve
            Message 5 of 26 , Dec 15, 2002
              >
              >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
              >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
              >> >Merit never talks in government, under any system. That's why its
              >> >powers should be strictly limited.
              >>
              >> Merit does indeed talk, if the government represents the general
              >> interests of the people rather than a specific class.
              >
              >It has been my observation that people most often "represent" their
              >own interests in whatever they do, and that includes government.
              >There is nothing about working in government that suddenly transforms
              >men into myth-like angels who look out for "the general interests of
              >all the people". In fact, there is a lot about it which draws the
              >most undesirable -- those who are willing to lie about their true
              >motives, because that's what it takes to achieve power.

              True any government bureaucracy will include the self-serving,
              but as long as it is held accountable to the people, there is no
              reason it cannot serve them. If it is held accountable primarilly
              to one class of the people and not another (i.e. those whose money
              puts politicians into office), it will tend to serve the interests
              of that class.

              >> >> Libertarians generally represent the petit-bourgeoisie rather
              >than
              >> >the
              >> >> grand bourgeoisie, and thus would be engaging in class struggle
              >by
              >> >trying
              >> >> to impose such restrictions, whether or not they recognize it.
              ><SNIP>
              >> Petit-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production
              >> who use primarilly their own labour.
              >
              >Translation: Sole proprietors who don't have employees?

              Yes.

              >> Grand-bourgeoisie: The class of owners of the means of production
              >who
              >> use primarilly the labour of others.
              >
              >Translation: Stockholders of businesses, and money lenders?

              Among others. Can also include sole proprietors who have employees.

              >I would assume that the third major class in this postulation is the
              >workers ("Proletariat"? Sorry, I'm a little rusty on my communist
              >lexicon), being those who are simply employees and do not own the
              >means of production.

              Yes, and the peasantry, who own the means of production but not generally
              the land on which it is used. Still, this class has almost been
              liquidated in the USA, though it can be an important factor in other
              countries.

              >This whole class struggle theory seems to have little relevance to
              >the real world. You seem to say Libertarians are "petit-bourgeoisie"
              >which is why we are pro-market but anti-corporate. In my own case, I
              >started my working life entirely as (I believe) you would classify a
              >member of the "proletariat". I had no significant capital assets and
              >have always been an employee. Even today, I am an employee of a
              >business and derive the majority of my income from that labor.

              There can certainly be exceptions, but Libertarianism is mainly a
              petit-bourgeois ideology. Mike Ross is also essentially a proletarian.
              Ernie Hancock is more typical of Libertarians in terms of class.

              >However, along the way I have also followed one piece of good advice,
              >which is "Produce more than you consume".

              A wise policy for both people and societies.

              >This policy has allowed me
              >to save some money each year and to acquire some capital assets.
              >These capital assets consist of my home, stock mutual funds, and a
              >few fixed income investments. In that sense I suppose you'd classify
              >me "grand bourgeoisie", since I do receive income in the form of
              >interest, dividends, and capital appreciation.

              If you can't live off the dividends and still must work for your
              sustenance, I wouldn't classify you as bourgeois.

              >As my life progresses
              >I expect to receive a greater and greater percentage of my income
              >from such sources, until such time as it is enough that I can cease
              >working as an employee. I just don't see how any of that fits in
              >with the whole "class struggle" theory. I've never been a "petit-
              >bourgeoisie" unless you count a couple of minor computer consulting
              >gigs I did a few years back. I am interested in promoting peace and
              >freedom because I believe they make everyone better off, including
              >myself. War and slavery, on the other hand, make only a few people
              >better off.

              Insofar as the struggle to promote sole proprietorships and
              partnerships but eliminate limited liability corporations, you
              have promoted a petit-bourgeois ideology. I do not say that's
              a bad thing. On the contrary, I find it quite useful, even if
              I don't totally agree with it.

              >> In general markets do function reasonably well. The specific
              >> case of privatized roads is one case where they do not, for the
              >> same reason that privatized utilities do not--there is either
              >> price gouging that is against the public interest or needless
              >> duplication of resources, which also elevates price against the
              >> public interests.
              >
              >There is really no fundamental difference between a "utility" like
              >electricity and the provision of any other good or service. You
              >could make the same case against, say, toilet paper: Either there
              >will only be one company making and selling toilet paper and they
              >will gouge because of it...or there will be duplication in the toilet
              >paper production and distribution which raises costs. The difference
              >is one of degree, not kind.

              Quantity, however, eventually transforms itself into quality. It's all
              very well having two toilet paper factories, each making enough for
              100,000 people rather than one that makes enough for 200,000. Economy
              of scale would favour the latter, but only slightly. Two or three
              separate sets of electrical power lines to serve exactly the same area
              begins to get significantly more expensive than just one. The same
              is true of two or three gas mains. If there is only one road to a
              location, it is indeed prohibitive to break the monopoly and build two
              or three for the sake of competition in road tolls, especially as you
              may have to buy additional land and destroy existing buildings to do so.

              >The problem with this kind of analysis is that it is static. You
              >assume that current behavior (ie utilization of electricity from an
              >electric grid) will continue unabated even in the face of "price
              >gouging". People won't just sit by and pay high prices. They will
              >develop substitutes, which drives technological innovation.

              And what would you propose as a substitute for electricity? Commercial
              electric power has been around for over a century, and I don't know
              of anything better to get the job done. If the price got truly extreme,
              people would rely on oil lamps and coal furnaces and other sources of
              power or buy portable generators, and for this reason the price probably
              wouldn't get truly extreme. Nonetheless it would be far higher than
              it is now if electrical utilities were deregulated, and many people who
              can afford electricity now would not be able to, and many who would still
              be able to afford it, would be sacrificing a much higher percentage of
              their income for it. We know this from history. Public utilities were
              created because of this price gouging, not because someone got the idea
              that price gouging might happen if private industry weren't severely
              regulated. Before the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in
              1933, not one household in 100 in Mississippi had electricity, this
              despite 51 years of commercial electrical generation in the USA. The
              reason was that it was more profitable to gouge prices for a small number
              of rich Mississippians than to lower the price to the range of most
              Mississippians. In other parts of the country, the difference was not
              so extreme, but it was real, and the advent of public utilities allowed
              almost all citizens to enjoy electric power (and gas and running water
              and telephone service).

              Would society work if public utilities were privatized? Yes, it would,
              but very badly. It is in the interests of the happiness of society
              in general that public utilities should remain strictly regulated,
              if not collectively owned.

              >For instance, those lamenting this country's dependance on fossile
              >fuels fail to recognize that the anti-trust breakup of Standard Oil
              >in the first part of the last century set energy innovation back by
              >decades in this country. Had the "evil monopoly" been allowed to
              >persist, it would have become irrelevant in relatively short order as
              >effective energy substitutes were found and developed.

              Substitutes are indeed possible for fossil fuels. At Auschwitz-Birkenau
              petrol was made from coal. In the 1970s scientists learned how to make
              petrol from ordinary garbage. Engines can also be modified to burn
              ethanol, methanol, liquid methane or liquid hydrogen. These alternatives
              all have one thing in common--they are much more expensive than drilling
              for oil and refining it. Society could function if we allowed oil
              monopoly, but it would not function as well, and the common good would
              again be forfeited for the gain of a few.

              >Currently, local-generated electricity is economically viable only in
              >areas too remote or transient to wire to the grid. What is the worst
              >that would happen with a totally deregulated electric utility
              >industry? The demand for local generation equipment would soar,
              >causing entry into that market and an eventual rapid decline in
              >prices as economies of scale were realized. Effective competition to
              >an electric company doesn't have to be another electric company.

              Locally generated electricity would still require either duplication
              of wiring or would lack competition. The problem of monopoly would
              still exist, albeit on a smaller scale. For example, suppose SRP
              is deregulated and prices increase. Then some neighborhood generators
              come into being as competition. Either local generator A would be the
              only alternative in my area, or local generator B would have to have its
              own power transmission lines in addition to those of A. You would have
              all the problems of monopoly or all the problems of lack of scale
              and duplication. It would work, but not very well, and it would not
              be in the interests of the people.

              >The point is that economic conditions are never static, and analysis
              >which does not take this into account misses something
              >important. "Price gouging" in particular is always an (admittedly
              >annoying) short term phenomenon.

              The Marxist-Leninist analysis never considers economies to be static
              and recognizes that even class is not static. Comrade Stalin wrote
              an essay in 1906 discussing this, including the specific example of
              the change in consciousness that evolves in a petit-bourgeois independent
              cobbler who is put out of business by the more efficient shoe factory
              and is compelled to earn a living as a proletarian shoe factor worker.

              >--Jason Auvenshine

              To answer your last question (which I mistakenly deleted), necessary
              value is essentially wages plus overhead (overhead is, of course,
              wages paid to other workers plus some surplus value going to other
              capitalists).

              --Kevin
            • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
              ... its ... their ... transforms ... of ... I argue that there is no effective mechanism for holding government accountable, to any class substantially
              Message 6 of 26 , Dec 17, 2002
                --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                > >> >Merit never talks in government, under any system. That's why
                its
                > >> >powers should be strictly limited.
                > >>
                > >> Merit does indeed talk, if the government represents the general
                > >> interests of the people rather than a specific class.
                > >
                > >It has been my observation that people most often "represent"
                their
                > >own interests in whatever they do, and that includes government.
                > >There is nothing about working in government that suddenly
                transforms
                > >men into myth-like angels who look out for "the general interests
                of
                > >all the people". In fact, there is a lot about it which draws the
                > >most undesirable -- those who are willing to lie about their true
                > >motives, because that's what it takes to achieve power.
                >
                > True any government bureaucracy will include the self-serving,
                > but as long as it is held accountable to the people, there is no
                > reason it cannot serve them. If it is held accountable primarilly
                > to one class of the people and not another (i.e. those whose money
                > puts politicians into office), it will tend to serve the interests
                > of that class.

                I argue that there is no effective mechanism for holding government
                accountable, to any "class" substantially larger than those actually
                IN government. If you don't like the product of a business you can
                refuse to buy from them, choking off their revenue stream. If you
                don't like the product of government, you still have to pay taxes and
                your recourse is...vote? That's a joke and the majority of people
                know it and don't even bother. It's true the government in this
                country is more accountable to the top 1% of wealth in this country
                than anyone else, but still not very accountable even to them.

                > >This whole class struggle theory seems to have little relevance to
                > >the real world. You seem to say Libertarians are "petit-
                bourgeoisie"
                > >which is why we are pro-market but anti-corporate. In my own
                case, I
                > >started my working life entirely as (I believe) you would classify
                a
                > >member of the "proletariat". I had no significant capital assets
                and
                > >have always been an employee. Even today, I am an employee of a
                > >business and derive the majority of my income from that labor.
                >
                > There can certainly be exceptions, but Libertarianism is mainly a
                > petit-bourgeois ideology. Mike Ross is also essentially a
                proletarian.
                > Ernie Hancock is more typical of Libertarians in terms of class.

                You don't seem to know many Libertarians. In my experience, the
                majority are not small business owners though a significant minority
                are.

                > >This policy has allowed me
                > >to save some money each year and to acquire some capital assets.
                > >These capital assets consist of my home, stock mutual funds, and a
                > >few fixed income investments. In that sense I suppose you'd
                classify
                > >me "grand bourgeoisie", since I do receive income in the form of
                > >interest, dividends, and capital appreciation.
                >
                > If you can't live off the dividends and still must work for your
                > sustenance, I wouldn't classify you as bourgeois.

                Define "can't live off the dividends". At this point I probably
                could sell my house & cars, buy a trailer and a small bit of land in
                the middle of nowhere, put all my financial assets into income
                producing vehicles and maybe scrape by without working and not
                starve. Does that make me bourgeois? How about if I wait another
                decade so I could afford to live in a double-wide on the outskirts of
                Tucson and have satellite TV without working? Am I proletarian as
                long as I don't want to live in a trailer (and hence keep working),
                but become bourgeois if I decide I can stomach a cut in lifestyle for
                more free time? Or is my current lifestyle considered a "given" and
                I become bourgeois only if I can give up working without cutting back
                on my lifestyle?

                These Marxian classifications seem to make little sense once one gets
                into the world of real people who exist above the level of economic
                starvation.

                > >As my life progresses
                > >I expect to receive a greater and greater percentage of my income
                > >from such sources, until such time as it is enough that I can
                cease
                > >working as an employee. I just don't see how any of that fits in
                > >with the whole "class struggle" theory. I've never been a "petit-
                > >bourgeoisie" unless you count a couple of minor computer
                consulting
                > >gigs I did a few years back. I am interested in promoting peace
                and
                > >freedom because I believe they make everyone better off, including
                > >myself. War and slavery, on the other hand, make only a few
                people
                > >better off.
                >
                > Insofar as the struggle to promote sole proprietorships and
                > partnerships but eliminate limited liability corporations, you
                > have promoted a petit-bourgeois ideology.

                No, I promote a non-initiation of force ideology. You are attempting
                to characterize that as being in the interests of a particular
                Marxian class. Insofar as individual human beings can properly be
                considered in "class", there are only two classes which are relevant
                to my ideology: those who benefit from forceful coercion and those
                who suffer because of it. There are those in all three Marxian
                classes who benefit from forceful coercion. There are many more in
                all three Marxian classes who suffer because of it.

                It seems to me that Communists are of the opinion that initiated
                force (if "properly applied" by having the right folks in power, I'm
                sure) benefits society more than it harms. Libertarians are of the
                opposite opinion.

                > >The problem with this kind of analysis is that it is static. You
                > >assume that current behavior (ie utilization of electricity from
                an
                > >electric grid) will continue unabated even in the face of "price
                > >gouging". People won't just sit by and pay high prices. They
                will
                > >develop substitutes, which drives technological innovation.
                >
                > And what would you propose as a substitute for electricity?
                Commercial
                > electric power has been around for over a century, and I don't know
                > of anything better to get the job done. If the price got truly
                extreme,
                > people would rely on oil lamps and coal furnaces and other sources
                of
                > power or buy portable generators, and for this reason the price
                probably
                > wouldn't get truly extreme. Nonetheless it would be far higher than
                > it is now if electrical utilities were deregulated, and many people
                who
                > can afford electricity now would not be able to, and many who would
                still
                > be able to afford it, would be sacrificing a much higher percentage
                of
                > their income for it. We know this from history. Public utilities
                were
                > created because of this price gouging, not because someone got the
                idea
                > that price gouging might happen if private industry weren't severely
                > regulated. Before the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in
                > 1933, not one household in 100 in Mississippi had electricity, this
                > despite 51 years of commercial electrical generation in the USA.
                The
                > reason was that it was more profitable to gouge prices for a small
                number
                > of rich Mississippians than to lower the price to the range of most
                > Mississippians. In other parts of the country, the difference was
                not
                > so extreme, but it was real, and the advent of public utilities
                allowed
                > almost all citizens to enjoy electric power (and gas and running
                water
                > and telephone service).

                Telephone service has already been solved with the advent of the
                cellular phone, which many people use exclusively now. It's only
                moderately coincidental that cellular development took off when the
                Long Distance telephone industry was deregulated to the point of
                preventing Long Distance and business charges from subsidizing local
                wired telephone service. When would the cellular phone have been
                developed if the telephone industry had never been regulated and
                local phone service had always been more expensive? It would be pure
                speculation to give a date, but it seems reasonable to presume it
                would have been sooner rather than later.

                There are wireless means of transmitting electricity as well. One
                particularly interesting proposal I've seen involved solar electrical
                generation in space transmitted to earth via microwave energy! It
                remains unclear whether or not such means would be economically
                feasible and safe on a large scale. It may turn out that some form
                of local ("home sized") generation turns out to be more cost
                effective than centralized generation plus transmission. Or maybe
                something that hasn't been though of yet. Thirty years ago, could
                you have predicted the current availability and cost effectiveness of
                cellular phones? I mean c'mon, everyone knew radio frequencies were
                a very scarce resource, and the power required to send/receive was
                tremendous compared to wired technologies, and the cost of erecting
                towers was enormous, and tracking and billing all those phones would
                be impossible, and who knows how many other reasons why it just
                _wasn't possible_ to have everyone walking around with tiny radio
                telephones that competitively priced compared to wireline service.

                I'm not contesting the notion that in some cases regulation and price
                controls can allow a current technology to benefit more people.
                However, it does this at the expense of fostering a slower rate of
                innovation and technological development than would otherwise occur,
                resulting in higher costs and fewer benefits over the long run.

                > Would society work if public utilities were privatized? Yes, it
                would,
                > but very badly. It is in the interests of the happiness of society
                > in general that public utilities should remain strictly regulated,
                > if not collectively owned.

                We disagree, but perhaps this stems from different values. I value
                technological progress more than I value low current prices.
                Technology, or "intellectual capital", is the single most important
                tool in improving human happiness over the long run. The rate of new
                technological developments/inventions seems to depend on certain
                societal factors:
                Understanding and use of science and the scientific method
                Willingness to consider new ideas
                Competition
                Profit motive
                Available resources beyond bare subsistance

                A government imposed price ceiling on current technology stifles the
                profit motive factor in the development of new technology.

                > >The point is that economic conditions are never static, and
                analysis
                > >which does not take this into account misses something
                > >important. "Price gouging" in particular is always an (admittedly
                > >annoying) short term phenomenon.
                >
                > The Marxist-Leninist analysis never considers economies to be static
                > and recognizes that even class is not static. Comrade Stalin wrote
                > an essay in 1906 discussing this, including the specific example of
                > the change in consciousness that evolves in a petit-bourgeois
                independent
                > cobbler who is put out of business by the more efficient shoe
                factory
                > and is compelled to earn a living as a proletarian shoe factor
                worker.

                It sounds like the cobbler story is still a rather fixed analysis --
                it presumes that the cobbler's occupation is effectively limited to
                shoemaking. Perhaps he could go into business repairing shoes
                instead of making them. Or learn to become a locksmith. Or perhaps
                the cobbler earns more as a factory worker than he did as a sole
                proprietor. Of course small businesses can be eliminated by large
                businesses due to economies of scale. Economy of scale is a very
                real, if overapplied, concept. Often, the large business's only real
                economy of scale is in dodging just responsibilities, complying with
                government regulations, and bribing special favors from the
                government.

                > To answer your last question (which I mistakenly deleted), necessary
                > value is essentially wages plus overhead (overhead is, of course,
                > wages paid to other workers plus some surplus value going to other
                > capitalists).

                So:
                Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)

                I don't find this definition to be useful in the description of real
                systems. Unless you somehow count it in overhead, this does not
                include any cost for capital. No matter how it is distributed in
                society, capital ALWAYS has a cost. Someone most forego current
                consumption in order to create capital; you can't just create it out
                of thin air.

                --Jason Auvenshine
              • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                ... It is certainly accountable to those people (by and large the imperialist grand-bourgeoisie). They own the government. If they don t like how a senator
                Message 7 of 26 , Dec 17, 2002
                  >> True any government bureaucracy will include the self-serving,
                  >> but as long as it is held accountable to the people, there is no
                  >> reason it cannot serve them. If it is held accountable primarilly
                  >> to one class of the people and not another (i.e. those whose money
                  >> puts politicians into office), it will tend to serve the interests
                  >> of that class.
                  >
                  >I argue that there is no effective mechanism for holding government
                  >accountable, to any "class" substantially larger than those actually
                  >IN government. If you don't like the product of a business you can
                  >refuse to buy from them, choking off their revenue stream. If you
                  >don't like the product of government, you still have to pay taxes and
                  >your recourse is...vote? That's a joke and the majority of people
                  >know it and don't even bother. It's true the government in this
                  >country is more accountable to the top 1% of wealth in this country
                  >than anyone else, but still not very accountable even to them.

                  It is certainly accountable to those people (by and large the imperialist
                  grand-bourgeoisie). They own the government. If they don't like how
                  a senator or congressman or president performs, they can influence votes
                  through media control (this is how many "scandals" about inappropriate
                  behaviour are created; I expect most people in Congress behave this way,
                  whereas only those who displease their benefactors "get caught") and by
                  cutting off campaign funding and giving it to someone else. Sure there
                  is some graft and the bureaucrats live better than most of us, but
                  fundamentally they serve their master class.

                  >> There can certainly be exceptions, but Libertarianism is mainly a
                  >> petit-bourgeois ideology. Mike Ross is also essentially a
                  >proletarian.
                  >> Ernie Hancock is more typical of Libertarians in terms of class.
                  >
                  >You don't seem to know many Libertarians. In my experience, the
                  >majority are not small business owners though a significant minority
                  >are.

                  I have known several who were, but more important is that they promote
                  the class interests of the petit-bourgeoisie.

                  >> If you can't live off the dividends and still must work for your
                  >> sustenance, I wouldn't classify you as bourgeois.
                  >
                  >Define "can't live off the dividends". At this point I probably
                  >could sell my house & cars, buy a trailer and a small bit of land in
                  >the middle of nowhere, put all my financial assets into income
                  >producing vehicles and maybe scrape by without working and not
                  >starve. Does that make me bourgeois? How about if I wait another
                  >decade so I could afford to live in a double-wide on the outskirts of
                  >Tucson and have satellite TV without working? Am I proletarian as
                  >long as I don't want to live in a trailer (and hence keep working),
                  >but become bourgeois if I decide I can stomach a cut in lifestyle for
                  >more free time? Or is my current lifestyle considered a "given" and
                  >I become bourgeois only if I can give up working without cutting back
                  >on my lifestyle?
                  >
                  >These Marxian classifications seem to make little sense once one gets
                  >into the world of real people who exist above the level of economic
                  >starvation.

                  Perhaps I should have added "can't live off the dividends at the level
                  to which you have become accustomed or the level of our civilisation"
                  or perhaps "aren't willing to live off the dividends". In that sense,
                  your class would be your choice. If you quit your job now and can
                  manage to live off the dividends, you are bourgeois. If you are unwilling
                  to do so, you are proletarian (though perhaps in the labour aristocracy
                  division of that class, as are many Americans).

                  >> >As my life progresses
                  >> >I expect to receive a greater and greater percentage of my income
                  >> >from such sources, until such time as it is enough that I can
                  >cease
                  >> >working as an employee. I just don't see how any of that fits in
                  >> >with the whole "class struggle" theory. I've never been a "petit-
                  >> >bourgeoisie" unless you count a couple of minor computer
                  >consulting
                  >> >gigs I did a few years back. I am interested in promoting peace
                  >and
                  >> >freedom because I believe they make everyone better off, including
                  >> >myself. War and slavery, on the other hand, make only a few
                  >people
                  >> >better off.
                  >>
                  >> Insofar as the struggle to promote sole proprietorships and
                  >> partnerships but eliminate limited liability corporations, you
                  >> have promoted a petit-bourgeois ideology.
                  >
                  >No, I promote a non-initiation of force ideology. You are attempting
                  >to characterize that as being in the interests of a particular
                  >Marxian class. Insofar as individual human beings can properly be
                  >considered in "class", there are only two classes which are relevant
                  >to my ideology: those who benefit from forceful coercion and those
                  >who suffer because of it. There are those in all three Marxian
                  >classes who benefit from forceful coercion. There are many more in
                  >all three Marxian classes who suffer because of it.
                  >
                  >It seems to me that Communists are of the opinion that initiated
                  >force (if "properly applied" by having the right folks in power, I'm
                  >sure) benefits society more than it harms. Libertarians are of the
                  >opposite opinion.

                  The maintenance of bourgeois property, which the Libertarians certainly
                  support, depends upon the use of force, no less than the imposition of
                  collective property. If I drive along the toll road the Libertarians
                  would have in private hands and refuse to pay, some force will be used
                  to extract the toll from me. The same would happen if as a landless
                  person I tried to earn my own bread by farming land someone else claims.
                  You may well argue that such force is justified, but it is force
                  nonetheless. It would be foolish to deny that property is based on force.
                  The sign that says "no trespassing" drips with force.

                  >Telephone service has already been solved with the advent of the
                  >cellular phone, which many people use exclusively now. It's only
                  >moderately coincidental that cellular development took off when the
                  >Long Distance telephone industry was deregulated to the point of
                  >preventing Long Distance and business charges from subsidizing local
                  >wired telephone service. When would the cellular phone have been
                  >developed if the telephone industry had never been regulated and
                  >local phone service had always been more expensive? It would be pure
                  >speculation to give a date, but it seems reasonable to presume it
                  >would have been sooner rather than later.
                  >
                  >There are wireless means of transmitting electricity as well. One
                  >particularly interesting proposal I've seen involved solar electrical
                  >generation in space transmitted to earth via microwave energy! It
                  >remains unclear whether or not such means would be economically
                  >feasible and safe on a large scale. It may turn out that some form
                  >of local ("home sized") generation turns out to be more cost
                  >effective than centralized generation plus transmission. Or maybe
                  >something that hasn't been though of yet. Thirty years ago, could
                  >you have predicted the current availability and cost effectiveness of
                  >cellular phones? I mean c'mon, everyone knew radio frequencies were
                  >a very scarce resource, and the power required to send/receive was
                  >tremendous compared to wired technologies, and the cost of erecting
                  >towers was enormous, and tracking and billing all those phones would
                  >be impossible, and who knows how many other reasons why it just
                  >_wasn't possible_ to have everyone walking around with tiny radio
                  >telephones that competitively priced compared to wireline service.

                  Yes, I think in fact 30 years ago, even though I was a child, I did
                  in fact predict that around now people would communicate by radio
                  to one another on a regular basis. It was the logical development
                  of miniturization technology. Radiotelephones were around back then.
                  Ships at sea used them, but they were too bulky and expensive to be
                  practical for the general public. In the 1980s there were car phones
                  available to the relatively wealthy. Electronics miniaturization,
                  which also has given us better computer processors and higher capacity,
                  also made possible relatively inexpensive cellular telephone service.
                  I also must say that I am entirely satisfied with land-line telephone
                  service and find cellular phones superior only for roadside emergencies.

                  >I'm not contesting the notion that in some cases regulation and price
                  >controls can allow a current technology to benefit more people.
                  >However, it does this at the expense of fostering a slower rate of
                  >innovation and technological development than would otherwise occur,
                  >resulting in higher costs and fewer benefits over the long run.

                  I doubt that very much.

                  >> Would society work if public utilities were privatized? Yes, it
                  >would,
                  >> but very badly. It is in the interests of the happiness of society
                  >> in general that public utilities should remain strictly regulated,
                  >> if not collectively owned.
                  >
                  >We disagree, but perhaps this stems from different values. I value
                  >technological progress more than I value low current prices.
                  >Technology, or "intellectual capital", is the single most important
                  >tool in improving human happiness over the long run. The rate of new
                  >technological developments/inventions seems to depend on certain
                  >societal factors:
                  > Understanding and use of science and the scientific method
                  > Willingness to consider new ideas
                  > Competition
                  > Profit motive
                  > Available resources beyond bare subsistance
                  >
                  >A government imposed price ceiling on current technology stifles the
                  >profit motive factor in the development of new technology.

                  On the contrary, it encourages it. If someone can get all the money
                  he needs from one produce, he has less incentive to continue creating
                  new things. Reward someone incrementally for each innovation, and
                  new ideas come from brilliant minds. Those who actually develop
                  new technologies are usually on salary. The companies that make
                  the profits get the credit. Indeed at many companies employees are
                  required to sign an agreement that anything they develop while working
                  there is the intellectual property of the company and not their
                  intellectual property.

                  >> >The point is that economic conditions are never static, and
                  >analysis
                  >> >which does not take this into account misses something
                  >> >important. "Price gouging" in particular is always an (admittedly
                  >> >annoying) short term phenomenon.
                  >>
                  >> The Marxist-Leninist analysis never considers economies to be static
                  >> and recognizes that even class is not static. Comrade Stalin wrote
                  >> an essay in 1906 discussing this, including the specific example of
                  >> the change in consciousness that evolves in a petit-bourgeois
                  >independent
                  >> cobbler who is put out of business by the more efficient shoe
                  >factory
                  >> and is compelled to earn a living as a proletarian shoe factor
                  >worker.
                  >
                  >It sounds like the cobbler story is still a rather fixed analysis --
                  >it presumes that the cobbler's occupation is effectively limited to
                  >shoemaking. Perhaps he could go into business repairing shoes
                  >instead of making them. Or learn to become a locksmith. Or perhaps
                  >the cobbler earns more as a factory worker than he did as a sole
                  >proprietor. Of course small businesses can be eliminated by large
                  >businesses due to economies of scale. Economy of scale is a very
                  >real, if overapplied, concept. Often, the large business's only real
                  >economy of scale is in dodging just responsibilities, complying with
                  >government regulations, and bribing special favors from the
                  >government.

                  Nowhere in the example does Comrade Stalin imply that there are no
                  other options. His point is that classes are not static and that
                  being determines consciousness. Although I read the essay from a
                  book, it is probably available online. I'll look it up for you
                  and give you the address so that you can judge for yourself.

                  >> To answer your last question (which I mistakenly deleted), necessary
                  >> value is essentially wages plus overhead (overhead is, of course,
                  >> wages paid to other workers plus some surplus value going to other
                  >> capitalists).
                  >
                  >So:
                  > Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                  >
                  >I don't find this definition to be useful in the description of real
                  >systems. Unless you somehow count it in overhead, this does not
                  >include any cost for capital. No matter how it is distributed in
                  >society, capital ALWAYS has a cost. Someone most forego current
                  >consumption in order to create capital; you can't just create it out
                  >of thin air.
                  >
                  >--Jason Auvenshine

                  Naturally capital consumption is part of overhead and as such reflects
                  human labour, which is necessary value. Labour is the source of all
                  capital goods as well as all commodity goods.

                  --Kevin
                • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                  ... government ... actually ... can ... and ... country ... imperialist ... how ... votes ... inappropriate ... way, ... and by ... there ... Their master
                  Message 8 of 26 , Dec 20, 2002
                    --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                    > >I argue that there is no effective mechanism for holding
                    government
                    > >accountable, to any "class" substantially larger than those
                    actually
                    > >IN government. If you don't like the product of a business you
                    can
                    > >refuse to buy from them, choking off their revenue stream. If you
                    > >don't like the product of government, you still have to pay taxes
                    and
                    > >your recourse is...vote? That's a joke and the majority of people
                    > >know it and don't even bother. It's true the government in this
                    > >country is more accountable to the top 1% of wealth in this
                    country
                    > >than anyone else, but still not very accountable even to them.
                    >
                    > It is certainly accountable to those people (by and large the
                    imperialist
                    > grand-bourgeoisie). They own the government. If they don't like
                    how
                    > a senator or congressman or president performs, they can influence
                    votes
                    > through media control (this is how many "scandals" about
                    inappropriate
                    > behaviour are created; I expect most people in Congress behave this
                    way,
                    > whereas only those who displease their benefactors "get caught")
                    and by
                    > cutting off campaign funding and giving it to someone else. Sure
                    there
                    > is some graft and the bureaucrats live better than most of us, but
                    > fundamentally they serve their master class.

                    Their "master class"? What a hoot. They ARE the master class...you
                    know, the guys with the guns and the perceived legitimacy that as a
                    group get to determine whether or not you get to keep your money and
                    your business. At its most controlled, government acts as a kind of
                    blunt trauma instrument that the wealthy use to bludgeon each other
                    with, as well as using it to smash the little guys. Very often, the
                    instrument bites them back of its own accord.

                    If you doubt this, witness the spectacle of a wealthy, elderly
                    stockholder/businessman, the archtypical "bourgeoisie" being all but
                    strip searched by a low paid newly federalized (but just as
                    incompetant) airport security screener and missing his flight to a
                    business meeting. Would these guys put up with this kind of sh*t for
                    even one second if they were really the "master class", when
                    solutions that would benefit them without increasing their risk from
                    terrorists are very easy to see and implement? For instance, why not
                    have a "citizen air marshall" permit that allowed the holder to
                    bypass security and carry firearms, said permit being very difficult
                    to get unless one both passed a detailed background check and had the
                    right (expensive) political connections? That's not politically
                    feasible precisely because the corporate stockholders are not
                    the "masters" of the government. To the extent that any group of
                    citizens has influence over government, they certainly have more than
                    their share per capita. But that's still not very much. BTW... The
                    sort of "get out of security-hell free" card I speculate on is just
                    too tempting that even under the current system I expect it to appear
                    sooner or later.

                    > >You don't seem to know many Libertarians. In my experience, the
                    > >majority are not small business owners though a significant
                    minority
                    > >are.
                    >
                    > I have known several who were, but more important is that they
                    promote
                    > the class interests of the petit-bourgeoisie.

                    Even if you presume the existance of the well-defined
                    Marxian "classes"...
                    And even if you presume that these classes have "class interests"...
                    It makes no sense for members of one class to consistently promote
                    the interests of another class unless they're (a) not interested in
                    furthering their own self-interest or (b) stupid.

                    Being that I am self-interested, and I don't generally consider
                    myself stupid, Marxian classes seem to pose a contradiction when
                    libertarians are considered. :-)

                    > >These Marxian classifications seem to make little sense once one
                    gets
                    > >into the world of real people who exist above the level of
                    economic
                    > >starvation.
                    >
                    > Perhaps I should have added "can't live off the dividends at the
                    level
                    > to which you have become accustomed or the level of our
                    civilisation"
                    > or perhaps "aren't willing to live off the dividends". In that
                    sense,
                    > your class would be your choice. If you quit your job now and can
                    > manage to live off the dividends, you are bourgeois. If you are
                    unwilling
                    > to do so, you are proletarian (though perhaps in the labour
                    aristocracy
                    > division of that class, as are many Americans).

                    Labour aristocracy? Bourgeois trailer trash? What a concept! :-)

                    How many divisions, sub-divisions, and sub-sub-divisions are there
                    within a class? I would postulate that the real answer is, "as many
                    as there are members of the class." Do people have certain
                    similarities in their interests? Of course they do.

                    What we have been arguing in these two message threads are concepts:
                    You propose that the Marxian classes represent a useful concept in
                    describing and defining optimal human relations in the real world. I
                    propose that natural rights are a useful concept in much the same
                    way. It seems to me that there's a lot less difference between these
                    two approaches than might first be apparent.

                    I propose that humans have certain interests that arise from the
                    nature of being human. You propose that humans have certain
                    interests that arise from whether or not those humans own enough
                    capital to live on (where "live on" could mean anything from a
                    trailer trash lifestyle to lifestyles of the rich and famous). There
                    is no conflict between these two notions per se. Phrased that way,
                    it would be foolish for me to maintain that whether or not
                    individuals own enough capital to live on has NO impact on their
                    interests. Of course it does. We both claim that the interests we
                    propose must be properly taken into account in deciding society's
                    rules if society is to operate to the maximum benefit of its
                    members. It seems that our conflict arises over what these interests
                    are and the proper way to integrate them into a set of rules that
                    benefit society.

                    > >No, I promote a non-initiation of force ideology. You are
                    attempting
                    > >to characterize that as being in the interests of a particular
                    > >Marxian class. Insofar as individual human beings can properly be
                    > >considered in "class", there are only two classes which are
                    relevant
                    > >to my ideology: those who benefit from forceful coercion and
                    those
                    > >who suffer because of it. There are those in all three Marxian
                    > >classes who benefit from forceful coercion. There are many more
                    in
                    > >all three Marxian classes who suffer because of it.
                    > >
                    > >It seems to me that Communists are of the opinion that initiated
                    > >force (if "properly applied" by having the right folks in power,
                    I'm
                    > >sure) benefits society more than it harms. Libertarians are of
                    the
                    > >opposite opinion.
                    >
                    > The maintenance of bourgeois property, which the Libertarians
                    certainly
                    > support, depends upon the use of force, no less than the imposition
                    of
                    > collective property. If I drive along the toll road the
                    Libertarians
                    > would have in private hands and refuse to pay, some force will be
                    used
                    > to extract the toll from me. The same would happen if as a landless
                    > person I tried to earn my own bread by farming land someone else
                    claims.
                    > You may well argue that such force is justified, but it is force
                    > nonetheless. It would be foolish to deny that property is based on
                    force.
                    > The sign that says "no trespassing" drips with force.

                    Don't confuse "initiation of force" with "use of force". The
                    libertarian position on these matters rests upon the recognition of
                    private property as a natural right rather than an arbitrary
                    (government-granted) right. If private property is a natural right,
                    then infringement thereof constitutes initiation of force for which
                    retaliatory force is justified. On the other hand, if private
                    property is simply an arbitrary fiction of government policy then any
                    force used to prevent others from using it is the initiation. This
                    is the fundamental difference between anarcho-capitalists, who
                    believe private property is a natural right, and anarcho-socialists,
                    who do not believe that it a natural right, at least not for things
                    like land and means of production.

                    > >A government imposed price ceiling on current technology stifles
                    the
                    > >profit motive factor in the development of new technology.
                    >
                    > On the contrary, it encourages it. If someone can get all the money
                    > he needs from one produce, he has less incentive to continue
                    creating
                    > new things. Reward someone incrementally for each innovation, and
                    > new ideas come from brilliant minds.

                    I presume that most "new technology" is developed by a competing
                    individual/firm rather than the one that holds a monopoly on the
                    current technology. Historically, I believe this makes sense. Much
                    technological progress is made by so-called "disruptive
                    technologies" -- products that are brought out initially as an
                    inferior (but cheaper) substitute for an established product.

                    Another presumption of mine, which I nevertheless think is evident
                    from the sheer volume of patent filings, is that many more
                    technologies are concieved than are actually developed to their real
                    potential and brought to market. Even if you have an idea that you
                    can prove will work, it's expensive and risky to roll that out to the
                    market. The idea must be "better enough" than the current solution
                    to not only compete, but supercede it by enough margin to balance out
                    the initial expense and risk of rolling it out. Price controls on
                    existing technology tend to reduce the incentive to bring new ideas
                    to market, because they limit the potential revenue to the controlled
                    price rather than some (presumably) higher price in excess of the
                    controls.

                    > Those who actually develop
                    > new technologies are usually on salary. The companies that make
                    > the profits get the credit. Indeed at many companies employees are
                    > required to sign an agreement that anything they develop while
                    working
                    > there is the intellectual property of the company and not their
                    > intellectual property.

                    I know all about that -- I work for one. :-) Intellectual property is
                    a much more tenuous concept than is physical property. So tenuous,
                    in fact, that I would not attempt to defend intellectual property as
                    a natural right; I am pretty well convinced that it is not one.
                    Anyway, salary or not I can tell you from experience that the
                    individual rewards for inventing new technologies are tied rather
                    closely to the market value of those technologies, as are most other
                    forms of relatively scarce labor. And as mentioned above, the
                    creation of "Intellectual Property" (the idea about how to do
                    something) is a relatively small, though necessary, component of the
                    process of actually bringing a technology into use where it can
                    benefit people.

                    > >So:
                    > > Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                    > >
                    > >I don't find this definition to be useful in the description of
                    real
                    > >systems. Unless you somehow count it in overhead, this does not
                    > >include any cost for capital. No matter how it is distributed in
                    > >society, capital ALWAYS has a cost. Someone most forego current
                    > >consumption in order to create capital; you can't just create it
                    out
                    > >of thin air.
                    > >
                    > >--Jason Auvenshine
                    >
                    > Naturally capital consumption is part of overhead and as such
                    reflects
                    > human labour, which is necessary value. Labour is the source of all
                    > capital goods as well as all commodity goods.

                    Well, therein lies the rub I suppose. If overhead is defined to
                    include capital costs, and you have defined:
                    Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)

                    Then I would say that you have defined surplus value in such a way
                    that its expected value is zero for any business or industry over the
                    long run. In actual cases of course it may be positive or negative,
                    primarily because "Wages + Overhead" must be paid up front
                    before "Market Value" is known with certainty. But in the long run
                    it will tend toward zero. Why? Because capital can flow between
                    industries and will tend to flow to its most profitable location.

                    Consider the case where surplus value is positive. In this case,
                    more profit can be gained by adding additional capital and increasing
                    production in this industry relative to other industries. This
                    additional capital may be obtained by existing firms, or by new firms
                    entering the market. The additional production increases supply
                    reducing the selling price (market value) part of the equation.
                    Capital entry will continue until it is no longer profitable to do
                    so, ie. when surplus value = 0.

                    On the other hand, if surplus value is negative we will see capital
                    flight from the industry. Either existing firms will shrink or go
                    out of business. The shrinking/bankruptcies will cause a reduction
                    in the production/supply, which increases the selling price (market
                    value). Capital flight will continue until it is once again
                    profitable to produce in this industry, and that point is when
                    surplus value = 0.

                    --Jason Auvenshine
                  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                    ... The fact that the wealthy undergo some inconveniences to engage in air travel does not mean they are not the master class. If they disapproved, their
                    Message 9 of 26 , Dec 21, 2002
                      >Their "master class"? What a hoot. They ARE the master class...you
                      >know, the guys with the guns and the perceived legitimacy that as a
                      >group get to determine whether or not you get to keep your money and
                      >your business. At its most controlled, government acts as a kind of
                      >blunt trauma instrument that the wealthy use to bludgeon each other
                      >with, as well as using it to smash the little guys. Very often, the
                      >instrument bites them back of its own accord.
                      >
                      >If you doubt this, witness the spectacle of a wealthy, elderly
                      >stockholder/businessman, the archtypical "bourgeoisie" being all but
                      >strip searched by a low paid newly federalized (but just as
                      >incompetant) airport security screener and missing his flight to a
                      >business meeting. Would these guys put up with this kind of sh*t for
                      >even one second if they were really the "master class", when
                      >solutions that would benefit them without increasing their risk from
                      >terrorists are very easy to see and implement? For instance, why not
                      >have a "citizen air marshall" permit that allowed the holder to
                      >bypass security and carry firearms, said permit being very difficult
                      >to get unless one both passed a detailed background check and had the
                      >right (expensive) political connections? That's not politically
                      >feasible precisely because the corporate stockholders are not
                      >the "masters" of the government. To the extent that any group of
                      >citizens has influence over government, they certainly have more than
                      >their share per capita. But that's still not very much. BTW... The
                      >sort of "get out of security-hell free" card I speculate on is just
                      >too tempting that even under the current system I expect it to appear
                      >sooner or later.

                      The fact that the wealthy undergo some inconveniences to engage in
                      air travel does not mean they are not the master class. If they
                      disapproved, their media would not be plugging it as "necessary"
                      to "combat terrorism". They have (for the most part) consented to
                      these searches in order to feel safer.

                      >Even if you presume the existance of the well-defined
                      >Marxian "classes"...
                      >And even if you presume that these classes have "class interests"...
                      >It makes no sense for members of one class to consistently promote
                      >the interests of another class unless they're (a) not interested in
                      >furthering their own self-interest or (b) stupid.

                      Or (c) deluded or (d) bribed. Many Americans live relatively well
                      due to superprofits exploited from third world workers. These people
                      are a labour aristocracy and tend to support imperialism. There are
                      many examples of workers who objectively aid imperialism despite being
                      members of classes that benefit little from it due to motives of
                      personal gain (e.g. minorities and poor whites who volunteer for the
                      U.S. military) That is part of the nature of class oppression.

                      >Being that I am self-interested, and I don't generally consider
                      >myself stupid, Marxian classes seem to pose a contradiction when
                      >libertarians are considered. :-)

                      I think you are acting in the interests of your class. You may protest
                      that you want no government rather than the dictatorship of the proletariat,
                      but you are at least advanced enough to see some of the flaws of the
                      current state. You may protest that you don't recognize the Marxist
                      definition of imperialism, but by opposing acts of American military
                      aggression, you are effectively emasculating it.

                      >Labour aristocracy? Bourgeois trailer trash? What a concept! :-)

                      Bourgeois trailer trash would certainly be an anomaly, but then class
                      analysis is for analysis of behaviour of large groups, not a few
                      eccentric individuals. Sure you personally might soon decide to
                      quit your job and live on a bare subsistence level off dividends,
                      but very few people in your position would, which is why you would
                      be better described as proletarian or labour aristocracy than bourgeois.

                      >How many divisions, sub-divisions, and sub-sub-divisions are there
                      >within a class? I would postulate that the real answer is, "as many
                      >as there are members of the class." Do people have certain
                      >similarities in their interests? Of course they do.

                      I would answer "as many as are useful for the analysis of social
                      behaviour". As you have seen from the example of Stalin's essay,
                      class is not a static phenomenon.

                      >What we have been arguing in these two message threads are concepts:
                      >You propose that the Marxian classes represent a useful concept in
                      >describing and defining optimal human relations in the real world. I
                      >propose that natural rights are a useful concept in much the same
                      >way. It seems to me that there's a lot less difference between these
                      >two approaches than might first be apparent.
                      >
                      >I propose that humans have certain interests that arise from the
                      >nature of being human. You propose that humans have certain
                      >interests that arise from whether or not those humans own enough
                      >capital to live on (where "live on" could mean anything from a
                      >trailer trash lifestyle to lifestyles of the rich and famous). There
                      >is no conflict between these two notions per se. Phrased that way,
                      >it would be foolish for me to maintain that whether or not
                      >individuals own enough capital to live on has NO impact on their
                      >interests. Of course it does. We both claim that the interests we
                      >propose must be properly taken into account in deciding society's
                      >rules if society is to operate to the maximum benefit of its
                      >members. It seems that our conflict arises over what these interests
                      >are and the proper way to integrate them into a set of rules that
                      >benefit society.

                      Yes, and "universal human values" has been shown as a cover for
                      treacherous betrayal of an entire people to imperialism. I therefore
                      opt for class values.

                      >Don't confuse "initiation of force" with "use of force". The
                      >libertarian position on these matters rests upon the recognition of
                      >private property as a natural right rather than an arbitrary
                      >(government-granted) right. If private property is a natural right,
                      >then infringement thereof constitutes initiation of force for which
                      >retaliatory force is justified. On the other hand, if private
                      >property is simply an arbitrary fiction of government policy then any
                      >force used to prevent others from using it is the initiation. This
                      >is the fundamental difference between anarcho-capitalists, who
                      >believe private property is a natural right, and anarcho-socialists,
                      >who do not believe that it a natural right, at least not for things
                      >like land and means of production.

                      "Initiation of force" is an arbitrary doctrine. Does the person who
                      drives on the toll road to get to and from his home without paying
                      initiate force? Or does the person who tries to make him pay to get
                      to and from his home? As for Communists initiating force, remember
                      who it was who tried to fire on us in Petrograd and Shanghai. We didn't
                      strike the first blow.

                      >I presume that most "new technology" is developed by a competing
                      >individual/firm rather than the one that holds a monopoly on the
                      >current technology. Historically, I believe this makes sense. Much
                      >technological progress is made by so-called "disruptive
                      >technologies" -- products that are brought out initially as an
                      >inferior (but cheaper) substitute for an established product.

                      New technology can be developed by someone with a monopoly on current
                      technology or someone without a monopoly on current technology. New
                      technology is almost always some kind of improvement on existing
                      technology (e.g. the telephone is an improvement on the telegraph,
                      the motor car on the horse-drawn carriage etc.)

                      >Another presumption of mine, which I nevertheless think is evident
                      >from the sheer volume of patent filings, is that many more
                      >technologies are concieved than are actually developed to their real
                      >potential and brought to market. Even if you have an idea that you
                      >can prove will work, it's expensive and risky to roll that out to the
                      >market. The idea must be "better enough" than the current solution
                      >to not only compete, but supercede it by enough margin to balance out
                      >the initial expense and risk of rolling it out. Price controls on
                      >existing technology tend to reduce the incentive to bring new ideas
                      >to market, because they limit the potential revenue to the controlled
                      >price rather than some (presumably) higher price in excess of the
                      >controls.

                      On the other hand with rationally centrally planned development, an
                      idea that is not immediately practical can be developed for potential
                      to produce other things or to improve our knowledge of the physical
                      universe.

                      >> Those who actually develop
                      >> new technologies are usually on salary. The companies that make
                      >> the profits get the credit. Indeed at many companies employees are
                      >> required to sign an agreement that anything they develop while
                      >working
                      >> there is the intellectual property of the company and not their
                      >> intellectual property.
                      >
                      >I know all about that -- I work for one. :-) Intellectual property is
                      >a much more tenuous concept than is physical property. So tenuous,
                      >in fact, that I would not attempt to defend intellectual property as
                      >a natural right; I am pretty well convinced that it is not one.
                      >Anyway, salary or not I can tell you from experience that the
                      >individual rewards for inventing new technologies are tied rather
                      >closely to the market value of those technologies, as are most other
                      >forms of relatively scarce labor. And as mentioned above, the
                      >creation of "Intellectual Property" (the idea about how to do
                      >something) is a relatively small, though necessary, component of the
                      >process of actually bringing a technology into use where it can
                      >benefit people.

                      I would disagree that individual rewards are closely tied to market
                      value, especially when their main income is salary. As for
                      intellectual property, I would not defend it, but from the perspective
                      of capitalism, it is a useful concept. If there were no intellectual
                      property, the bourgeois innovator might have no reward at all, as
                      others would steal his or her idea and capitalise on it.

                      >Well, therein lies the rub I suppose. If overhead is defined to
                      >include capital costs, and you have defined:
                      >Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                      >
                      >Then I would say that you have defined surplus value in such a way
                      >that its expected value is zero for any business or industry over the
                      >long run. In actual cases of course it may be positive or negative,
                      >primarily because "Wages + Overhead" must be paid up front
                      >before "Market Value" is known with certainty. But in the long run
                      >it will tend toward zero. Why? Because capital can flow between
                      >industries and will tend to flow to its most profitable location.
                      >
                      >Consider the case where surplus value is positive. In this case,
                      >more profit can be gained by adding additional capital and increasing
                      >production in this industry relative to other industries. This
                      >additional capital may be obtained by existing firms, or by new firms
                      >entering the market. The additional production increases supply
                      >reducing the selling price (market value) part of the equation.
                      >Capital entry will continue until it is no longer profitable to do
                      >so, ie. when surplus value = 0.
                      >
                      >On the other hand, if surplus value is negative we will see capital
                      >flight from the industry. Either existing firms will shrink or go
                      >out of business. The shrinking/bankruptcies will cause a reduction
                      >in the production/supply, which increases the selling price (market
                      >value). Capital flight will continue until it is once again
                      >profitable to produce in this industry, and that point is when
                      >surplus value = 0.
                      >
                      >--Jason Auvenshine

                      Capital investment does not increase until surplus value goes to zero.
                      It increases until surplus value is maximized. If surplus value starts
                      to go down, capital investment goes down. You are confusing x with the
                      first derivative of x.

                      --Kevin Walsh
                    • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                      ... That s one potential explanation. I argue that such an explanation hinges on the utter stupidity of those you term the master class , since it s obvious
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jan 2 9:25 PM
                        --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                        > The fact that the wealthy undergo some inconveniences to engage in
                        > air travel does not mean they are not the master class. If they
                        > disapproved, their media would not be plugging it as "necessary"
                        > to "combat terrorism". They have (for the most part) consented to
                        > these searches in order to feel safer.

                        That's one potential explanation. I argue that such an explanation
                        hinges on the utter stupidity of those you term the "master class",
                        since it's obvious that the current invasive searches will not make
                        anyone any safer. The other, more reasonable IMHO explanation is
                        that they haven't consented, there is no "master class" other than
                        the government itself, and they merely put up with it because it's
                        easier than fighting.

                        > >Even if you presume the existance of the well-defined
                        > >Marxian "classes"...
                        > >And even if you presume that these classes have "class
                        interests"...
                        > >It makes no sense for members of one class to consistently promote
                        > >the interests of another class unless they're (a) not interested
                        in
                        > >furthering their own self-interest or (b) stupid.
                        >
                        > Or (c) deluded or (d) bribed.

                        c and d are merely a subtle twist on b and a, respectively.

                        > I think you are acting in the interests of your class. You may
                        protest
                        > that you want no government rather than the dictatorship of the
                        proletariat,
                        > but you are at least advanced enough to see some of the flaws of the
                        > current state. You may protest that you don't recognize the Marxist
                        > definition of imperialism, but by opposing acts of American military
                        > aggression, you are effectively emasculating it.

                        You said that Libertarian interests were primarily petit-bourgeois
                        rather than proletarian. Then we established that I'm proletarian.
                        Let me reiterate my point:
                        You claim that I promote a class interest. I claim that I promote
                        libertarian principles regardless of class interest. Sometimes
                        libertarian principles benefit people Marxians would define as
                        proletarian, sometimes petit-bourgeois, and sometimes grand
                        bourgeois. On balance, I contend that libertarian principles benefit
                        all "classes", Marxian or otherwise, with the exception of those in
                        politics/government of course. :-)

                        Your claim that certain of my positions benefit the Marxian class you
                        claim I am a member of fails to refute my point that it is not class
                        interest which I am promoting at all.

                        > >I propose that humans have certain interests that arise from the
                        > >nature of being human. You propose that humans have certain
                        > >interests that arise from whether or not those humans own enough
                        > >capital to live on (where "live on" could mean anything from a
                        > >trailer trash lifestyle to lifestyles of the rich and famous).
                        There
                        > >is no conflict between these two notions per se. Phrased that
                        way,
                        > >it would be foolish for me to maintain that whether or not
                        > >individuals own enough capital to live on has NO impact on their
                        > >interests. Of course it does. We both claim that the interests
                        we
                        > >propose must be properly taken into account in deciding society's
                        > >rules if society is to operate to the maximum benefit of its
                        > >members. It seems that our conflict arises over what these
                        interests
                        > >are and the proper way to integrate them into a set of rules that
                        > >benefit society.
                        >
                        > Yes, and "universal human values" has been shown as a cover for
                        > treacherous betrayal of an entire people to imperialism. I
                        therefore
                        > opt for class values.

                        "Freedom" has to be the most mis-used concept in human history.
                        Perhaps "universal human values" runs a distant second. Regardless,
                        the fact that tyrants misuse a particular concept does not invalidate
                        it.

                        One may not "opt" the interests which drive other human beings.
                        Whether or not values derived from being human are paramount over
                        values derived from membership in a Marxian class in determining
                        human behavior is an empirical question, albeit a rather difficult
                        one to pin down with specificity.

                        > >Don't confuse "initiation of force" with "use of force". The
                        > >libertarian position on these matters rests upon the recognition
                        of
                        > >private property as a natural right rather than an arbitrary
                        > >(government-granted) right. If private property is a natural
                        right,
                        > >then infringement thereof constitutes initiation of force for
                        which
                        > >retaliatory force is justified. On the other hand, if private
                        > >property is simply an arbitrary fiction of government policy then
                        any
                        > >force used to prevent others from using it is the initiation.
                        This
                        > >is the fundamental difference between anarcho-capitalists, who
                        > >believe private property is a natural right, and anarcho-
                        socialists,
                        > >who do not believe that it a natural right, at least not for
                        things
                        > >like land and means of production.
                        >
                        > "Initiation of force" is an arbitrary doctrine. Does the person who
                        > drives on the toll road to get to and from his home without paying
                        > initiate force? Or does the person who tries to make him pay to get
                        > to and from his home?

                        The answer is determined by whether or not there is a right to
                        private property. Initiating force is defined as violating the
                        rights of another without their consent. As I said, this is the
                        point at which anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-socialists diverge.
                        My own view is that the person who drives on a toll road without
                        paying is the one initiating force. That is because my observations
                        of human behavior have led me to conclude that there is in fact a
                        natural right to private property, hence violating property rights
                        without the consent of the owner constitutes initiation of force.
                        Could I be mistaken in either my observations or my conclusions
                        regarding the right to property and hence my judgement on who has
                        initiated force? Sure...just as you could be mistaken in concluding
                        that there is no such right to property. Either way, the decision is
                        not arbitrary if it is based on evidence and reason instead of naked
                        preference.

                        > As for Communists initiating force, remember
                        > who it was who tried to fire on us in Petrograd and Shanghai. We
                        didn't
                        > strike the first blow.

                        "We" have never fired on anyone either, meaning that I make no "we"
                        with those who initiate force even if they do it in the name of
                        freedom, libertarianism, capitalism, peace, motherhood, or apple pie.

                        You are the one talking of "supressing capitalism" and the necessity
                        of world hegemony for communism. I have absolutely no problem with
                        2, 10, 100, or 1 million people voluntarily getting together and
                        agreeing to produce and consume everything communally. Towards the
                        lower end of the size scale, it happens all the time and it's
                        typically called a family. :-) Towards the higher end of the size
                        scale, I think that communes are inefficient and inconsistent with
                        human nature. But voluntary communes of any size whatsoever are no
                        threat to me nor are they an initiation of force. However, when you
                        or anyone else says that _I_ must produce and consume communally with
                        a certain group of people whether I want to or not...then you are
                        initiating force against me.

                        This asymmetry between capitalism and communism I see as one of
                        communism's fatal flaws. Capitalism can and does tolerate enclaves
                        of communism within it. By your own admission, communism demands the
                        suppression of all capitalist enclaves, with disasterous implications
                        for human freedom of choice.

                        > On the other hand with rationally centrally planned development, an
                        > idea that is not immediately practical can be developed for
                        potential
                        > to produce other things or to improve our knowledge of the physical
                        > universe.

                        What new ideas and technologies were developed by the "rationally
                        centrally planned" societies that controlled over half the world's
                        territory and population for decades? How did these compare with the
                        ideas and technologies developed by societies which relied on
                        spontaneous (dis)order than central planning over the same time
                        period? Again, this should be an empirical question for which
                        history should provide some insight.

                        > >I know all about that -- I work for one. :-) Intellectual property
                        is
                        > >a much more tenuous concept than is physical property. So
                        tenuous,
                        > >in fact, that I would not attempt to defend intellectual property
                        as
                        > >a natural right; I am pretty well convinced that it is not one.
                        > >Anyway, salary or not I can tell you from experience that the
                        > >individual rewards for inventing new technologies are tied rather
                        > >closely to the market value of those technologies, as are most
                        other
                        > >forms of relatively scarce labor. And as mentioned above, the
                        > >creation of "Intellectual Property" (the idea about how to do
                        > >something) is a relatively small, though necessary, component of
                        the
                        > >process of actually bringing a technology into use where it can
                        > >benefit people.
                        >
                        > I would disagree that individual rewards are closely tied to market
                        > value, especially when their main income is salary. As for
                        > intellectual property, I would not defend it, but from the
                        perspective
                        > of capitalism, it is a useful concept. If there were no
                        intellectual
                        > property, the bourgeois innovator might have no reward at all, as
                        > others would steal his or her idea and capitalise on it.

                        "Steal" presumes the existance of a property right. There is no
                        theft where there is no property right. Giving an inventor a limited-
                        time monopoly on implementation of his or her idea may (or may not)
                        be a socially useful thing to do in the context of capitalism. But I
                        do not see the same evidence for ideas as a natural property right as
                        I do for physical property. If it were a real property right, it
                        would exist in perpetuity as rights in physical property do.

                        > >Well, therein lies the rub I suppose. If overhead is defined to
                        > >include capital costs, and you have defined:
                        > >Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                        > >
                        > >Then I would say that you have defined surplus value in such a way
                        > >that its expected value is zero for any business or industry over
                        the
                        > >long run. In actual cases of course it may be positive or
                        negative,
                        > >primarily because "Wages + Overhead" must be paid up front
                        > >before "Market Value" is known with certainty. But in the long
                        run
                        > >it will tend toward zero. Why? Because capital can flow between
                        > >industries and will tend to flow to its most profitable location.
                        > >
                        > >Consider the case where surplus value is positive. In this case,
                        > >more profit can be gained by adding additional capital and
                        increasing
                        > >production in this industry relative to other industries. This
                        > >additional capital may be obtained by existing firms, or by new
                        firms
                        > >entering the market. The additional production increases supply
                        > >reducing the selling price (market value) part of the equation.
                        > >Capital entry will continue until it is no longer profitable to do
                        > >so, ie. when surplus value = 0.
                        > >
                        > >On the other hand, if surplus value is negative we will see
                        capital
                        > >flight from the industry. Either existing firms will shrink or go
                        > >out of business. The shrinking/bankruptcies will cause a
                        reduction
                        > >in the production/supply, which increases the selling price
                        (market
                        > >value). Capital flight will continue until it is once again
                        > >profitable to produce in this industry, and that point is when
                        > >surplus value = 0.
                        > >
                        > >--Jason Auvenshine
                        >
                        > Capital investment does not increase until surplus value goes to
                        zero.
                        > It increases until surplus value is maximized. If surplus value
                        starts
                        > to go down, capital investment goes down. You are confusing x with
                        the
                        > first derivative of x.

                        It's no confusion; we simply disagree on which is the decision
                        function in fact used by rational capitalists.

                        We agree that capital has a cost. This cost is usually defined as
                        the expected rate of return demanded by owners of capital to invest
                        that capital rather than consume it. For sake of argument, let's say
                        that's 10% per year. Any less, and the capitalists decide, "screw
                        it, life is short, I'm going to consume rather than invest". Any
                        more, and the capitalists have "surplus value", meaning that they
                        earn more money from their capital than was actually needed to entice
                        them to invest rather than consume.

                        Surplus value as you have defined it is maximized when expected
                        returns to capital are very high indeed. How high? Well...infinite,
                        actually. Which is why investors often chase that elusive "ground
                        floor opportunity". :-) Such opportunities do exist, and while not
                        infinite are very nearly so, as the returns to the few very early
                        investors in today's biggest companies exceeds 1000% compounded
                        annually over decades. But does investment STOP when surplus value
                        is maximized? Absolutely not. That's where it STARTS. After all,
                        if I'm a newcomer to the capital markets looking at WalMart in it's
                        second year, I might not get the 1000% compounded growth the first
                        year investors got, but I might get 100% growth which is still way
                        above what it takes to convince me to invest that capital rather than
                        consume it.

                        Investment stops when the expected _profit_ is maximized, meaning
                        that all the capital that is chosen to be invested rather than
                        consumed is in fact invested. And as long as there is surplus value,
                        ie ventures that will return more than the amount needed to convince
                        an owner of capital to invest rather than consume, new capital will
                        enter the capital market and drive down overall returns to the actual
                        cost of capital, ie the rate at which capital owners are indifferent
                        between investment and consumption.

                        This is why I brought up the cost of capital when you mentioned
                        surplus value. The only way I see that you can get long-run positive
                        surplus value out of a system of rational capitalists is if capital
                        is presumed to have zero cost. In other words, long-run surplus
                        value is positive only if you _define_ the rate of return required to
                        invest rather than consume AS surplus value.

                        --Jason Auvenshine
                      • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                        ... There is no stupidity here. Security does decrease the chances of an attack. Would other methods work better (e.g. allowing all passengers to be armed)?
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jan 3 8:46 PM
                          >
                          >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                          >> The fact that the wealthy undergo some inconveniences to engage in
                          >> air travel does not mean they are not the master class. If they
                          >> disapproved, their media would not be plugging it as "necessary"
                          >> to "combat terrorism". They have (for the most part) consented to
                          >> these searches in order to feel safer.
                          >
                          >That's one potential explanation. I argue that such an explanation
                          >hinges on the utter stupidity of those you term the "master class",
                          >since it's obvious that the current invasive searches will not make
                          >anyone any safer. The other, more reasonable IMHO explanation is
                          >that they haven't consented, there is no "master class" other than
                          >the government itself, and they merely put up with it because it's
                          >easier than fighting.

                          There is no stupidity here. Security does decrease the chances of an
                          attack. Would other methods work better (e.g. allowing all passengers
                          to be armed)? Yes, they probably would, but the wealthy dislike the
                          idea of workers having the right to be armed for obvious reasons.

                          If on the other hand government is the master class and beholden
                          to no one, there would be no reason for the wealthy to finance
                          political candidates and for the media to plug them. After all, these
                          politicians would only look out for their own interests, not the
                          interests of those who pay them and promote them.

                          Still, if you prefer to believe that the government is the master class
                          that needs to be opposed, I won't object too strenuously. You will
                          at least be attacking the symptom if not the disease :-)

                          >libertarian principles regardless of class interest. Sometimes
                          >libertarian principles benefit people Marxians would define as
                          >proletarian, sometimes petit-bourgeois, and sometimes grand
                          >bourgeois. On balance, I contend that libertarian principles benefit
                          >all "classes", Marxian or otherwise, with the exception of those in
                          >politics/government of course. :-)
                          >
                          >Your claim that certain of my positions benefit the Marxian class you
                          >claim I am a member of fails to refute my point that it is not class
                          >interest which I am promoting at all.

                          You may not believe you are, but by fighting this government you are
                          objectively aiding the interests of the world proletariat. Keep it up!

                          >"Freedom" has to be the most mis-used concept in human history.
                          >Perhaps "universal human values" runs a distant second. Regardless,
                          >the fact that tyrants misuse a particular concept does not invalidate
                          >it.
                          >
                          >One may not "opt" the interests which drive other human beings.
                          >Whether or not values derived from being human are paramount over
                          >values derived from membership in a Marxian class in determining
                          >human behavior is an empirical question, albeit a rather difficult
                          >one to pin down with specificity.

                          I would also contend that this is not static. Where there is a common
                          threat against all classes (e.g. disease), there are times when class
                          collaboration is reasonable and the norm. Individuals who share interests
                          become a class. Not all individuals will act in the class interest, but
                          then predicting the behaviour of individuals renders social analysis
                          impossible because of the sheer numbers involved. Class analysis reduces
                          the factors that need to be considered and makes social analysis a
                          possible thing.

                          >The answer is determined by whether or not there is a right to
                          >private property. Initiating force is defined as violating the
                          >rights of another without their consent.

                          Then this again becomes tautological, as initiation of force is
                          contingent on this concept of natural rights and what those rights
                          are.

                          >As I said, this is the
                          >point at which anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-socialists diverge.
                          >My own view is that the person who drives on a toll road without
                          >paying is the one initiating force. That is because my observations
                          >of human behavior have led me to conclude that there is in fact a
                          >natural right to private property, hence violating property rights
                          >without the consent of the owner constitutes initiation of force.
                          >Could I be mistaken in either my observations or my conclusions
                          >regarding the right to property and hence my judgement on who has
                          >initiated force? Sure...just as you could be mistaken in concluding
                          >that there is no such right to property. Either way, the decision is
                          >not arbitrary if it is based on evidence and reason instead of naked
                          >preference.

                          Does the owner of the only road to my house violate my property rights
                          to access to my house by charging excessive tolls? Or can I reasonably
                          be expected to be a prisoner in my home so that I respect the property
                          right of the owner of the road? You see, it's not so clear.

                          >> As for Communists initiating force, remember
                          >> who it was who tried to fire on us in Petrograd and Shanghai. We
                          >didn't
                          >> strike the first blow.
                          >
                          >"We" have never fired on anyone either, meaning that I make no "we"
                          >with those who initiate force even if they do it in the name of
                          >freedom, libertarianism, capitalism, peace, motherhood, or apple pie.

                          I never said you did.

                          >You are the one talking of "supressing capitalism" and the necessity
                          >of world hegemony for communism. I have absolutely no problem with
                          >2, 10, 100, or 1 million people voluntarily getting together and
                          >agreeing to produce and consume everything communally. Towards the
                          >lower end of the size scale, it happens all the time and it's
                          >typically called a family. :-) Towards the higher end of the size
                          >scale, I think that communes are inefficient and inconsistent with
                          >human nature. But voluntary communes of any size whatsoever are no
                          >threat to me nor are they an initiation of force. However, when you
                          >or anyone else says that _I_ must produce and consume communally with
                          >a certain group of people whether I want to or not...then you are
                          >initiating force against me.
                          >
                          >This asymmetry between capitalism and communism I see as one of
                          >communism's fatal flaws. Capitalism can and does tolerate enclaves
                          >of communism within it. By your own admission, communism demands the
                          >suppression of all capitalist enclaves, with disasterous implications
                          >for human freedom of choice.

                          By your own admission human freedom of choice does not extend to activities
                          which are incompatable with the welfare of humanity. Capitalism is
                          inconsistent with human happiness. Therefore it is not to be an option.

                          >> On the other hand with rationally centrally planned development, an
                          >> idea that is not immediately practical can be developed for
                          >potential
                          >> to produce other things or to improve our knowledge of the physical
                          >> universe.
                          >
                          >What new ideas and technologies were developed by the "rationally
                          >centrally planned" societies that controlled over half the world's
                          >territory and population for decades? How did these compare with the
                          >ideas and technologies developed by societies which relied on
                          >spontaneous (dis)order than central planning over the same time
                          >period? Again, this should be an empirical question for which
                          >history should provide some insight.

                          Given the initial backward nature of these societies, they cannot
                          be judged on the basis of societies which had originally had numerous
                          trained scientists and great wealth (based on exploitation of other
                          countries). The Soviet Union and China naturally had to play a lot
                          of catch up. Comparing their scientific achievements to those of
                          the USA or Britain or Germany would quite obviously be idiotic.
                          Comparing them to those of Africa, India, and South America in the
                          same period would make more sense, as these societies started at
                          about the same level of development. Nonetheless we have some
                          impressive achievements by the socialist powers including spaceflight,
                          radial keratotomy, synthesis of human growth hormone, high octane
                          gasoline etc., certainly more impressive than those of the capitalist
                          third world.

                          >"Steal" presumes the existance of a property right. There is no
                          >theft where there is no property right. Giving an inventor a limited-
                          >time monopoly on implementation of his or her idea may (or may not)
                          >be a socially useful thing to do in the context of capitalism. But I
                          >do not see the same evidence for ideas as a natural property right as
                          >I do for physical property. If it were a real property right, it
                          >would exist in perpetuity as rights in physical property do.

                          Again, I don't defend this as a natural right, though not all physical
                          property rights in law are indefinite either.

                          >It's no confusion; we simply disagree on which is the decision
                          >function in fact used by rational capitalists.
                          >
                          >We agree that capital has a cost. This cost is usually defined as
                          >the expected rate of return demanded by owners of capital to invest
                          >that capital rather than consume it.

                          The cost of capital is the cost of producing the capital divided by
                          the useful life of the capital goods. The expected rate of return has
                          nothing to do with the actual cost of capital. It DOES indicate
                          whether capital will be invested and to what extent it will be.
                          For example, a piece of machinery costs $10,000 and lasts ten years.
                          The cost of the capital will be $1000 per year. If it is only
                          expected to return $900 per year, there won't likely be investment.
                          If the return exceeds capital, overhead and wages by a substantial
                          margin, there will likely be investment. If the high rates of return
                          are expected to continue with further investment, far more than $10,000
                          may be invested in buying machines of this sort, but the expected
                          rate of return does not determine the cost of the capital.

                          >For sake of argument, let's say
                          >that's 10% per year. Any less, and the capitalists decide, "screw
                          >it, life is short, I'm going to consume rather than invest". Any
                          >more, and the capitalists have "surplus value", meaning that they
                          >earn more money from their capital than was actually needed to entice
                          >them to invest rather than consume.

                          You are confusing the decision to invest surplus value with surplus
                          value itself.

                          >Surplus value as you have defined it is maximized when expected
                          >returns to capital are very high indeed. How high? Well...infinite,
                          >actually. Which is why investors often chase that elusive "ground
                          >floor opportunity". :-) Such opportunities do exist, and while not
                          >infinite are very nearly so, as the returns to the few very early
                          >investors in today's biggest companies exceeds 1000% compounded
                          >annually over decades. But does investment STOP when surplus value
                          >is maximized? Absolutely not. That's where it STARTS. After all,
                          >if I'm a newcomer to the capital markets looking at WalMart in it's
                          >second year, I might not get the 1000% compounded growth the first
                          >year investors got, but I might get 100% growth which is still way
                          >above what it takes to convince me to invest that capital rather than
                          >consume it.

                          It does not STOP, but it does not increase. When investment is not
                          returning as much, the capital investment decreases. Thus the
                          tendency is not for surplus value to go to zero but for it to maximize.
                          This is what is usually called "market saturation".

                          >Investment stops when the expected _profit_ is maximized, meaning
                          >that all the capital that is chosen to be invested rather than
                          >consumed is in fact invested. And as long as there is surplus value,
                          >ie ventures that will return more than the amount needed to convince
                          >an owner of capital to invest rather than consume, new capital will
                          >enter the capital market and drive down overall returns to the actual
                          >cost of capital, ie the rate at which capital owners are indifferent
                          >between investment and consumption.
                          >
                          >This is why I brought up the cost of capital when you mentioned
                          >surplus value. The only way I see that you can get long-run positive
                          >surplus value out of a system of rational capitalists is if capital
                          >is presumed to have zero cost. In other words, long-run surplus
                          >value is positive only if you _define_ the rate of return required to
                          >invest rather than consume AS surplus value.
                          >
                          >--Jason Auvenshine

                          Eventually surplus value does go to zero in some industries, and these
                          industries go out of business (e.g. horse drawn carriage builders saw
                          their surplus value go to zero when motor cars became more popular),
                          but more commonly a quasi-stasis is reached for a time at which the
                          market is saturated, capital investment equals capital consumption,
                          and surplus value varies little but is consistently above zero.

                          --Kevin
                        • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                          ... In the case of economic growth, I add this as a little addendum, capital investment will exceed capital consumption, but surplus value will still remain
                          Message 12 of 26 , Jan 3 9:15 PM
                            >Eventually surplus value does go to zero in some industries, and these
                            >industries go out of business (e.g. horse drawn carriage builders saw
                            >their surplus value go to zero when motor cars became more popular),
                            >but more commonly a quasi-stasis is reached for a time at which the
                            >market is saturated, capital investment equals capital consumption,
                            >and surplus value varies little but is consistently above zero.

                            In the case of economic growth, I add this as a little addendum, capital
                            investment will exceed capital consumption, but surplus value will still
                            remain positive (and will itself grow). Capitalists can't reinvest all
                            their profits. They will consume at least some of them, so surplus value
                            couldn't consistently go to zero.

                            --Kevin
                          • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                            ... invest ... has ... The required return is a cost, because if it is not covered then the capital will be consumed rather than invested. A capital
                            Message 13 of 26 , Jan 5 10:27 PM
                              --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                              > >It's no confusion; we simply disagree on which is the decision
                              > >function in fact used by rational capitalists.
                              > >
                              > >We agree that capital has a cost. This cost is usually defined as
                              > >the expected rate of return demanded by owners of capital to
                              invest
                              > >that capital rather than consume it.
                              >
                              > The cost of capital is the cost of producing the capital divided by
                              > the useful life of the capital goods. The expected rate of return
                              has
                              > nothing to do with the actual cost of capital. It DOES indicate
                              > whether capital will be invested and to what extent it will be.

                              The required return is a cost, because if it is not covered then the
                              capital will be consumed rather than invested. A capital investment
                              must return MORE than the cost of production divided by the useful
                              life or an investement will not be made.

                              When economic value is produced there are only three things that can
                              be done with it: Consume it, invest it, or save it. However,
                              all "save it" really does is delay either consumption or investment.
                              Thus over the long term there are really only TWO options:
                              consumption or investment.

                              Economic value that is consumed is (one component of) human happiness.

                              Economic value that is invested is capital.

                              ONLY consumption yields human happiness. The ONLY reason to
                              translate economic value into capital instead of consumption is if
                              that capital is expected to allow even greater consumption
                              (happiness) in the future. This is why the cost of capital is more
                              than just the economic value required to create it.

                              > For example, a piece of machinery costs $10,000 and lasts ten years.
                              > The cost of the capital will be $1000 per year. If it is only
                              > expected to return $900 per year, there won't likely be investment.
                              > If the return exceeds capital, overhead and wages by a substantial
                              > margin, there will likely be investment. If the high rates of
                              return
                              > are expected to continue with further investment, far more than
                              $10,000
                              > may be invested in buying machines of this sort, but the expected
                              > rate of return does not determine the cost of the capital.

                              Capital does not magically appear. In order to have that
                              hypothetical $10,000 machine TWO things must happen:
                              (1) Someone must produce $10,000 worth of economic value.
                              (2) Someone must invest $10,000 of economic value in a machine,
                              rather than current consumption. In order to do that, there must be
                              an expected return of more than what was invested. After all, if the
                              return is not greater than what was invested, current consumption is
                              both preferable and certain.

                              (1) and (2) are both costs, because absent either one of them the
                              machine will not be purchased. You account for only the first cost
                              with $1000 per year for 10 years. You fail to account for the second
                              cost.

                              > >For sake of argument, let's say
                              > >that's 10% per year. Any less, and the capitalists decide, "screw
                              > >it, life is short, I'm going to consume rather than invest". Any
                              > >more, and the capitalists have "surplus value", meaning that they
                              > >earn more money from their capital than was actually needed to
                              entice
                              > >them to invest rather than consume.
                              >
                              > You are confusing the decision to invest surplus value with surplus
                              > value itself.
                              <SNIP more talking past each other about cost of capital>

                              No, you have defined surplus value in such a way that it is the rate
                              of return required to cause a decision in favor of investment rather
                              than consumption. You have done this by ignoring the cost of the
                              decision to invest in your definition of the cost of capital.

                              The cost of something is EVERYTHING that it takes in order to produce
                              it. In a capitalist society, it clearly takes both available
                              economic value AND a decision to invest rather than consume in order
                              to produce capital. Therefore, the cost of capital rightly includes
                              both the economic value and the return required to induce an
                              investment decision.

                              --Jason Auvenshine
                            • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                              ... explanation ... class , ... make ... an ... No, security only alters the parameters and perhaps the specific target choice of an attack. But the change in
                              Message 14 of 26 , Jan 5 10:29 PM
                                --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                > >That's one potential explanation. I argue that such an
                                explanation
                                > >hinges on the utter stupidity of those you term the "master
                                class",
                                > >since it's obvious that the current invasive searches will not
                                make
                                > >anyone any safer. The other, more reasonable IMHO explanation is
                                > >that they haven't consented, there is no "master class" other than
                                > >the government itself, and they merely put up with it because it's
                                > >easier than fighting.
                                >
                                > There is no stupidity here. Security does decrease the chances of
                                an
                                > attack.

                                No, security only alters the parameters and perhaps the specific
                                target choice of an attack. But the change in mindset on 9/11 did
                                that already -- no one will ever again sit idly by and cooperate
                                while a plane is hijacked.

                                > Would other methods work better (e.g. allowing all passengers
                                > to be armed)? Yes, they probably would, but the wealthy dislike the
                                > idea of workers having the right to be armed for obvious reasons.

                                This explanation is nonsense. "The workers" ARE armed just about
                                everywhere but airports. If "the workers" wanted to take over, you
                                think they'd start on a plane?!?!

                                > If on the other hand government is the master class and beholden
                                > to no one, there would be no reason for the wealthy to finance
                                > political candidates and for the media to plug them. After all,
                                these
                                > politicians would only look out for their own interests, not the
                                > interests of those who pay them and promote them.

                                By and large, they do. The wealthy do finance political candidates
                                to buy favors, and as I've mentioned they have more control per
                                capita than the poor. But that control is very limited, wheras the
                                politicians control over the wealthy (and everyone else) is virtually
                                unlimited.

                                I've had a fair bit of dealing with the media, who are only
                                marginally more friendly to Libertarians than they are to
                                Communists. A number of factors go into what they do, and more
                                importantly do not, cover. The battle for audience share is very
                                real, and most Americans aren't willing to take the time to consider
                                anything deep or conflicting too strongly with what they already
                                think they know -- flick, next channel. The other side of the coin
                                is of course the advertisers, who don't want anything too upsetting
                                that might make the audience not buy their products. And, there is a
                                very real fear in many of them of offending the wrong politician too
                                much, as the FCC, IRS, etc can make life miserable for anyone
                                including a media corporation.

                                The media plugs incumbant politicians because they're a safe topic
                                that people are interested in (good for audience share) and will make
                                people feel good about the status quo (good for advertisers) while
                                keeping the government agencies on friendly terms that the station is
                                living up to the mandate of performing a "public service".

                                > Still, if you prefer to believe that the government is the master
                                class
                                > that needs to be opposed, I won't object too strenuously. You will
                                > at least be attacking the symptom if not the disease :-)

                                The disease which I attack is the widespread social acceptance of
                                aggression against life, liberty, and property. It happens that most
                                people in modern America accept such aggression only when it is
                                conducted by government agents, which is why so much of my focus is
                                there. This is also why I view government as the master class,
                                because of the power which the general public accepts them having
                                that they do not accept anyone else having. You'll note, however,
                                that our discussion started when you praised the aggression of the
                                9/11 hijackers. Were sentiments such as yours more common, I might
                                spend more of my time actively opposing aggression by non-government
                                agents.

                                > >One may not "opt" the interests which drive other human beings.
                                > >Whether or not values derived from being human are paramount over
                                > >values derived from membership in a Marxian class in determining
                                > >human behavior is an empirical question, albeit a rather difficult
                                > >one to pin down with specificity.
                                >
                                > I would also contend that this is not static. Where there is a
                                common
                                > threat against all classes (e.g. disease), there are times when
                                class
                                > collaboration is reasonable and the norm. Individuals who share
                                interests
                                > become a class. Not all individuals will act in the class
                                interest, but
                                > then predicting the behaviour of individuals renders social analysis
                                > impossible because of the sheer numbers involved. Class analysis
                                reduces
                                > the factors that need to be considered and makes social analysis a
                                > possible thing.

                                Like disease, aggression constitutes a threat against all classes.
                                The proletarians suffer primarily from reduced opportunity to create
                                an independant livelihood and build wealth. The small business
                                owners suffer from burdensome regulations and fiat regulatory
                                decisions that can put them out of business overnight. The large
                                business owners suffer from having significant portions of their
                                wealth confiscated.

                                > >The answer is determined by whether or not there is a right to
                                > >private property. Initiating force is defined as violating the
                                > >rights of another without their consent.
                                >
                                > Then this again becomes tautological, as initiation of force is
                                > contingent on this concept of natural rights and what those rights
                                > are.

                                No, it is not tautological because I have a working list of rights.
                                I merely acknowledge that there are others who do not agree with my
                                list.

                                > >As I said, this is the
                                > >point at which anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-socialists
                                diverge.
                                > >My own view is that the person who drives on a toll road without
                                > >paying is the one initiating force. That is because my
                                observations
                                > >of human behavior have led me to conclude that there is in fact a
                                > >natural right to private property, hence violating property rights
                                > >without the consent of the owner constitutes initiation of force.
                                > >Could I be mistaken in either my observations or my conclusions
                                > >regarding the right to property and hence my judgement on who has
                                > >initiated force? Sure...just as you could be mistaken in
                                concluding
                                > >that there is no such right to property. Either way, the decision
                                is
                                > >not arbitrary if it is based on evidence and reason instead of
                                naked
                                > >preference.
                                >
                                > Does the owner of the only road to my house violate my property
                                rights
                                > to access to my house by charging excessive tolls? Or can I
                                reasonably
                                > be expected to be a prisoner in my home so that I respect the
                                property
                                > right of the owner of the road? You see, it's not so clear.

                                It is quite clear. When you bought your house, you did so with the
                                understanding that you would have road access to it. At the time,
                                this was an implicit contract between you and the government, because
                                the government owned the road and as a matter of custom governments
                                permit everyone to access their roads to general residential areas.
                                If the government sold the road to a private party, they would be
                                obligated to include an explicit provision for access as a condition
                                that ran with the land, a CC&R to the effect "Owner of road xyz
                                agrees to permit all owners and invited guests of all properties
                                solely served by road xyz to use the road in perpetuity for a yearly
                                fee not to exceed 110% of the yearly maintenance costs of the road
                                divided by the number of properties solely served by the road..." In
                                actual practice, the owners of the properties served by the road
                                would likely form (if it didn't already exist) a homeowner's
                                association to buy and maintain it, and such a homeowner's
                                associations should have the first right to buy any road servicing
                                their neighborhood from the government.

                                New developments would almost certainly include road access
                                explicitely contracted from the beginning with the homeowner's
                                association. If they didn't, you wouldn't buy the property (unless
                                you were particularly foolish). This already goes on in some
                                locations, and seems to work pretty well.

                                If you were foolish enough to buy a house served by only one private
                                road with no contract for perpetual access, then you would in fact be
                                violating the road owner's property rights even if he charged an
                                extremely excessive toll or even outright forbade you to use the
                                road. However, you'd have only yourself to blame in that situation,
                                and in actual practice that level of stupidity would be extremely
                                rare. :-)

                                > >You are the one talking of "supressing capitalism" and the
                                necessity
                                > >of world hegemony for communism. I have absolutely no problem
                                with
                                > >2, 10, 100, or 1 million people voluntarily getting together and
                                > >agreeing to produce and consume everything communally. Towards
                                the
                                > >lower end of the size scale, it happens all the time and it's
                                > >typically called a family. :-) Towards the higher end of the size
                                > >scale, I think that communes are inefficient and inconsistent with
                                > >human nature. But voluntary communes of any size whatsoever are
                                no
                                > >threat to me nor are they an initiation of force. However, when
                                you
                                > >or anyone else says that _I_ must produce and consume communally
                                with
                                > >a certain group of people whether I want to or not...then you are
                                > >initiating force against me.
                                > >
                                > >This asymmetry between capitalism and communism I see as one of
                                > >communism's fatal flaws. Capitalism can and does tolerate
                                enclaves
                                > >of communism within it. By your own admission, communism demands
                                the
                                > >suppression of all capitalist enclaves, with disasterous
                                implications
                                > >for human freedom of choice.
                                >
                                > By your own admission human freedom of choice does not extend to
                                activities
                                > which are incompatable with the welfare of humanity. Capitalism is
                                > inconsistent with human happiness. Therefore it is not to be an
                                option.

                                Your claim that capitalism is inconsistent with human happiness is
                                not, and I will argue cannot, be supported by objective evidence.
                                Note that I do not claim the opposite, that communism is inconsistent
                                with human happiness. There are people who are happier not having to
                                compete, worry about and plan for the future, and make endless
                                choices as capitalism requires. Such people would, in fact, be
                                happier in a commune. There are also people who are happier in a
                                competitive environment, where they make individual choices and
                                prosper or suffer as a result. Such people would be happier in a
                                capitalist society.

                                Unfortunately, we'll rapidly exhaust the possibilities of discussion
                                on human welfare because it will simply lead to the question of how
                                one measures welfare and happiness. And even (especially!) among
                                materialists such as ourselves this is nothing more than naked
                                preference, once you get beyond the mere basics of survival. One
                                person values leisure time more than a larger house...another values
                                the ability to raise 6 children to adulthood more than a new car
                                every 3 years...and so on. Economic systems are this way as well, as
                                mentioned above. Which is why no economic system is PER SE
                                incompatible with human happiness, so long as one factor is
                                universal: the ability to choose another system for oneself. It is
                                only the lack of choice that is fundamentally incompatible with human
                                happiness...and that's just what you advocate.

                                > >What new ideas and technologies were developed by the "rationally
                                > >centrally planned" societies that controlled over half the world's
                                > >territory and population for decades? How did these compare with
                                the
                                > >ideas and technologies developed by societies which relied on
                                > >spontaneous (dis)order than central planning over the same time
                                > >period? Again, this should be an empirical question for which
                                > >history should provide some insight.
                                >
                                > Given the initial backward nature of these societies, they cannot
                                > be judged on the basis of societies which had originally had
                                numerous
                                > trained scientists and great wealth (based on exploitation of other
                                > countries). The Soviet Union and China naturally had to play a lot
                                > of catch up. Comparing their scientific achievements to those of
                                > the USA or Britain or Germany would quite obviously be idiotic.
                                > Comparing them to those of Africa, India, and South America in the
                                > same period would make more sense, as these societies started at
                                > about the same level of development. Nonetheless we have some
                                > impressive achievements by the socialist powers including
                                spaceflight,
                                > radial keratotomy, synthesis of human growth hormone, high octane
                                > gasoline etc., certainly more impressive than those of the
                                capitalist
                                > third world.

                                When you talk of the "capitalist third world" I believe you're
                                actually referring to what I call the kleptocracies. The absolute
                                best thing these countries can be called is "crony capitalist". For
                                a country to be really capitalist it must have:
                                - Primarily rule of law rather than rule of position
                                - Effective legal protection for the rights of life, liberty, and
                                property for all people (rich and poor)

                                Most countries in the so-called "capitalist" third world are run by
                                thugs one must bribe regularly to get anything done, and only protect
                                the rights (particularly property rights) of those who are already
                                wealthy and powerful.

                                First world capitalist countries are to be blamed to the extent that
                                the kleptocracies were created/maintained by their force. But
                                comparing a kleptocracy to a communist country and calling it a
                                comparison to capitalism is not appropriate either.

                                I have yet to hear of a country where the rule of law and equal
                                respect for property rights was actually implemented that the result
                                has not been both prosperity and ingenuity. But I'll admit I'm no
                                expert on the developmental history of the world.

                                --Jason Auvenshine
                              • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                ... Only to the extent that no security is foolproof is there truth in that assertion. By making many forms of attack more difficult it does in fact decrease
                                Message 15 of 26 , Jan 6 8:47 PM
                                  >No, security only alters the parameters and perhaps the specific
                                  >target choice of an attack. But the change in mindset on 9/11 did
                                  >that already -- no one will ever again sit idly by and cooperate
                                  >while a plane is hijacked.

                                  Only to the extent that no security is foolproof is there truth in
                                  that assertion. By making many forms of attack more difficult it
                                  does in fact decrease the likelihood of attack.

                                  >> Would other methods work better (e.g. allowing all passengers
                                  >> to be armed)? Yes, they probably would, but the wealthy dislike the
                                  >> idea of workers having the right to be armed for obvious reasons.
                                  >
                                  >This explanation is nonsense. "The workers" ARE armed just about
                                  >everywhere but airports. If "the workers" wanted to take over, you
                                  >think they'd start on a plane?!?!

                                  Probably not. Still, the rich don't fear the workers collectively,
                                  as at this stage in social development there is very little worker
                                  collectivity, and such as there is is subservient to imperialism.
                                  They also don't fear individual armed workers much, as they generally
                                  don't have their weapons with them. They DO fear individual armed
                                  workers in crowded situations who might have a grievance.

                                  >> If on the other hand government is the master class and beholden
                                  >> to no one, there would be no reason for the wealthy to finance
                                  >> political candidates and for the media to plug them. After all,
                                  >these
                                  >> politicians would only look out for their own interests, not the
                                  >> interests of those who pay them and promote them.
                                  >
                                  >By and large, they do. The wealthy do finance political candidates
                                  >to buy favors, and as I've mentioned they have more control per
                                  >capita than the poor. But that control is very limited, wheras the
                                  >politicians control over the wealthy (and everyone else) is virtually
                                  >unlimited.

                                  That is certainly untrue. A politician who did something the wealthy
                                  didn't like would lose campaign money and media coverage.

                                  >I've had a fair bit of dealing with the media, who are only
                                  >marginally more friendly to Libertarians than they are to
                                  >Communists. A number of factors go into what they do, and more
                                  >importantly do not, cover. The battle for audience share is very
                                  >real, and most Americans aren't willing to take the time to consider
                                  >anything deep or conflicting too strongly with what they already
                                  >think they know -- flick, next channel. The other side of the coin
                                  >is of course the advertisers, who don't want anything too upsetting
                                  >that might make the audience not buy their products. And, there is a
                                  >very real fear in many of them of offending the wrong politician too
                                  >much, as the FCC, IRS, etc can make life miserable for anyone
                                  >including a media corporation.
                                  >
                                  >The media plugs incumbant politicians because they're a safe topic
                                  >that people are interested in (good for audience share) and will make
                                  >people feel good about the status quo (good for advertisers) while
                                  >keeping the government agencies on friendly terms that the station is
                                  >living up to the mandate of performing a "public service".

                                  Libertarianism is a bourgeois ideology (petit-bourgeois) but is certainly
                                  not favoured by the imperialist grand bourgeoisie, and thus the media,
                                  which ARE owned by the imperialist grand bourgeoisie (and in gross
                                  disproportion the Jewish elements of it), would not be much friendlier
                                  to it than to Communism. The FCC, IRS, etc. have nominal power to make
                                  life miserable for the media and the bourgeoisie, but in practice they
                                  rarely use that power unless the victim has done something of which
                                  the rest of the imperialist bourgeoisie disapproves. This is because
                                  they are subordinate to the president who is subordinate to the imperialist
                                  grand bourgeoisie.

                                  >> Still, if you prefer to believe that the government is the master
                                  >class
                                  >> that needs to be opposed, I won't object too strenuously. You will
                                  >> at least be attacking the symptom if not the disease :-)
                                  >
                                  >The disease which I attack is the widespread social acceptance of
                                  >aggression against life, liberty, and property. It happens that most
                                  >people in modern America accept such aggression only when it is
                                  >conducted by government agents, which is why so much of my focus is
                                  >there. This is also why I view government as the master class,
                                  >because of the power which the general public accepts them having
                                  >that they do not accept anyone else having. You'll note, however,
                                  >that our discussion started when you praised the aggression of the
                                  >9/11 hijackers. Were sentiments such as yours more common, I might
                                  >spend more of my time actively opposing aggression by non-government
                                  >agents.

                                  You might indeed, and if you lived in Iraq you might be functioning in
                                  a manner that objectively made you my enemy. Our alliance if, of course,
                                  conditional on existing circumstances, but, as I have said before, those
                                  circumstances which place us as soldiers in the same trench are not likely
                                  to change anytime soon.

                                  >Like disease, aggression constitutes a threat against all classes.
                                  >The proletarians suffer primarily from reduced opportunity to create
                                  >an independant livelihood and build wealth. The small business
                                  >owners suffer from burdensome regulations and fiat regulatory
                                  >decisions that can put them out of business overnight. The large
                                  >business owners suffer from having significant portions of their
                                  >wealth confiscated.

                                  This is entirely true. Nonetheless the benefits or pursuing aggressive
                                  class struggle ultimately outweigh the harm that aggression causes.

                                  >> >The answer is determined by whether or not there is a right to
                                  >> >private property. Initiating force is defined as violating the
                                  >> >rights of another without their consent.
                                  >>
                                  >> Then this again becomes tautological, as initiation of force is
                                  >> contingent on this concept of natural rights and what those rights
                                  >> are.
                                  >
                                  >No, it is not tautological because I have a working list of rights.
                                  >I merely acknowledge that there are others who do not agree with my
                                  >list.

                                  >> Does the owner of the only road to my house violate my property
                                  >rights
                                  >> to access to my house by charging excessive tolls? Or can I
                                  >reasonably
                                  >> be expected to be a prisoner in my home so that I respect the
                                  >property
                                  >> right of the owner of the road? You see, it's not so clear.
                                  >
                                  >It is quite clear. When you bought your house, you did so with the
                                  >understanding that you would have road access to it. At the time,
                                  >this was an implicit contract between you and the government, because
                                  >the government owned the road and as a matter of custom governments
                                  >permit everyone to access their roads to general residential areas.
                                  >If the government sold the road to a private party, they would be
                                  >obligated to include an explicit provision for access as a condition
                                  >that ran with the land, a CC&R to the effect "Owner of road xyz
                                  >agrees to permit all owners and invited guests of all properties
                                  >solely served by road xyz to use the road in perpetuity for a yearly
                                  >fee not to exceed 110% of the yearly maintenance costs of the road
                                  >divided by the number of properties solely served by the road..." In
                                  >actual practice, the owners of the properties served by the road
                                  >would likely form (if it didn't already exist) a homeowner's
                                  >association to buy and maintain it, and such a homeowner's
                                  >associations should have the first right to buy any road servicing
                                  >their neighborhood from the government.
                                  >
                                  >New developments would almost certainly include road access
                                  >explicitely contracted from the beginning with the homeowner's
                                  >association. If they didn't, you wouldn't buy the property (unless
                                  >you were particularly foolish). This already goes on in some
                                  >locations, and seems to work pretty well.
                                  >
                                  >If you were foolish enough to buy a house served by only one private
                                  >road with no contract for perpetual access, then you would in fact be
                                  >violating the road owner's property rights even if he charged an
                                  >extremely excessive toll or even outright forbade you to use the
                                  >road. However, you'd have only yourself to blame in that situation,
                                  >and in actual practice that level of stupidity would be extremely
                                  >rare. :-)

                                  I would agree that such a contract would be wise if the roads were
                                  to be made private property, but then, this would restrict the road
                                  owner's right to do as he pleases with his property. Do I object to
                                  that? No. But it would infringe on the road owner's property rights.

                                  >Your claim that capitalism is inconsistent with human happiness is
                                  >not, and I will argue cannot, be supported by objective evidence.
                                  >Note that I do not claim the opposite, that communism is inconsistent
                                  >with human happiness. There are people who are happier not having to
                                  >compete, worry about and plan for the future, and make endless
                                  >choices as capitalism requires. Such people would, in fact, be
                                  >happier in a commune. There are also people who are happier in a
                                  >competitive environment, where they make individual choices and
                                  >prosper or suffer as a result. Such people would be happier in a
                                  >capitalist society.
                                  >
                                  >Unfortunately, we'll rapidly exhaust the possibilities of discussion
                                  >on human welfare because it will simply lead to the question of how
                                  >one measures welfare and happiness. And even (especially!) among
                                  >materialists such as ourselves this is nothing more than naked
                                  >preference, once you get beyond the mere basics of survival. One
                                  >person values leisure time more than a larger house...another values
                                  >the ability to raise 6 children to adulthood more than a new car
                                  >every 3 years...and so on. Economic systems are this way as well, as
                                  >mentioned above. Which is why no economic system is PER SE
                                  >incompatible with human happiness, so long as one factor is
                                  >universal: the ability to choose another system for oneself. It is
                                  >only the lack of choice that is fundamentally incompatible with human
                                  >happiness...and that's just what you advocate.

                                  Capitalism is not a matter of freedom of choice. It inevitably evolves
                                  into imperialism which affects everyone's freedom of choice, particularly
                                  those with the misfortune to live in the weaker nations. It is therefore
                                  incompatable with the happiness of the bulk of the world's people.

                                  >When you talk of the "capitalist third world" I believe you're
                                  >actually referring to what I call the kleptocracies. The absolute
                                  >best thing these countries can be called is "crony capitalist". For
                                  >a country to be really capitalist it must have:
                                  > - Primarily rule of law rather than rule of position
                                  > - Effective legal protection for the rights of life, liberty, and
                                  >property for all people (rich and poor)
                                  >
                                  >Most countries in the so-called "capitalist" third world are run by
                                  >thugs one must bribe regularly to get anything done, and only protect
                                  >the rights (particularly property rights) of those who are already
                                  >wealthy and powerful.

                                  I don't see any fundamental difference between that and the practices
                                  common in Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan. Here the bribes
                                  are called taxes and campaign contributions, and the police and military
                                  exist to protect the rights of the wealthy.

                                  >First world capitalist countries are to be blamed to the extent that
                                  >the kleptocracies were created/maintained by their force. But
                                  >comparing a kleptocracy to a communist country and calling it a
                                  >comparison to capitalism is not appropriate either.

                                  It is entirely appropriate. The technological progress of the first
                                  world is subsidized by the plundering of the third. It also stands to
                                  reason that capitalism in the third world would need to use more overt
                                  brutality than that in the first world. It is nonetheless still
                                  capitalism.

                                  >I have yet to hear of a country where the rule of law and equal
                                  >respect for property rights was actually implemented that the result
                                  >has not been both prosperity and ingenuity. But I'll admit I'm no
                                  >expert on the developmental history of the world.
                                  >
                                  >--Jason Auvenshine

                                  I am not aware of any country in which that which you call the rule
                                  of law and respect for property rights was actually implemented period.
                                  Arguing about the result of that would be on par with arguing about
                                  angels dancing on the head of a pin.

                                  --Kevin
                                • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                  ... I already covered capital consumption. ... No, necessary value also yields human happiness, as does cost of capital, as this all represents human labour.
                                  Message 16 of 26 , Jan 6 8:58 PM
                                    >
                                    >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                    >> >It's no confusion; we simply disagree on which is the decision
                                    >> >function in fact used by rational capitalists.
                                    >> >
                                    >> >We agree that capital has a cost. This cost is usually defined as
                                    >> >the expected rate of return demanded by owners of capital to
                                    >invest
                                    >> >that capital rather than consume it.
                                    >>
                                    >> The cost of capital is the cost of producing the capital divided by
                                    >> the useful life of the capital goods. The expected rate of return
                                    >has
                                    >> nothing to do with the actual cost of capital. It DOES indicate
                                    >> whether capital will be invested and to what extent it will be.
                                    >
                                    >The required return is a cost, because if it is not covered then the
                                    >capital will be consumed rather than invested. A capital investment
                                    >must return MORE than the cost of production divided by the useful
                                    >life or an investement will not be made.

                                    I already covered capital consumption.

                                    >When economic value is produced there are only three things that can
                                    >be done with it: Consume it, invest it, or save it. However,
                                    >all "save it" really does is delay either consumption or investment.
                                    >Thus over the long term there are really only TWO options:
                                    >consumption or investment.
                                    >
                                    >Economic value that is consumed is (one component of) human happiness.
                                    >
                                    >Economic value that is invested is capital.
                                    >
                                    >ONLY consumption yields human happiness. The ONLY reason to
                                    >translate economic value into capital instead of consumption is if
                                    >that capital is expected to allow even greater consumption
                                    >(happiness) in the future. This is why the cost of capital is more
                                    >than just the economic value required to create it.

                                    No, necessary value also yields human happiness, as does cost of capital,
                                    as this all represents human labour. Surplus value is simply the human
                                    happiness that is taken from the labour of others.

                                    >> For example, a piece of machinery costs $10,000 and lasts ten years.
                                    >> The cost of the capital will be $1000 per year. If it is only
                                    >> expected to return $900 per year, there won't likely be investment.
                                    >> If the return exceeds capital, overhead and wages by a substantial
                                    >> margin, there will likely be investment. If the high rates of
                                    >return
                                    >> are expected to continue with further investment, far more than
                                    >$10,000
                                    >> may be invested in buying machines of this sort, but the expected
                                    >> rate of return does not determine the cost of the capital.
                                    >
                                    >Capital does not magically appear. In order to have that
                                    >hypothetical $10,000 machine TWO things must happen:
                                    > (1) Someone must produce $10,000 worth of economic value.
                                    > (2) Someone must invest $10,000 of economic value in a machine,
                                    >rather than current consumption. In order to do that, there must be
                                    >an expected return of more than what was invested. After all, if the
                                    >return is not greater than what was invested, current consumption is
                                    >both preferable and certain.
                                    >
                                    >(1) and (2) are both costs, because absent either one of them the
                                    >machine will not be purchased. You account for only the first cost
                                    >with $1000 per year for 10 years. You fail to account for the second
                                    >cost.

                                    There is no second cost. That is surplus value.

                                    >No, you have defined surplus value in such a way that it is the rate
                                    >of return required to cause a decision in favor of investment rather
                                    >than consumption. You have done this by ignoring the cost of the
                                    >decision to invest in your definition of the cost of capital.
                                    >
                                    >The cost of something is EVERYTHING that it takes in order to produce
                                    >it. In a capitalist society, it clearly takes both available
                                    >economic value AND a decision to invest rather than consume in order
                                    >to produce capital. Therefore, the cost of capital rightly includes
                                    >both the economic value and the return required to induce an
                                    >investment decision.
                                    >
                                    >--Jason Auvenshine

                                    When surplus value becomes necessary value, all who labour consume and
                                    all collectively make the decision to invest. That is socialism.
                                    An economy can function without surplus value.

                                    --Kevin
                                  • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                    ... candidates ... the ... virtually ... wealthy ... ... they ... because ... imperialist ... You have failed to demonstrate how the president is
                                    Message 17 of 26 , Jan 7 9:12 PM
                                      --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                      > >> If on the other hand government is the master class and beholden
                                      > >> to no one, there would be no reason for the wealthy to finance
                                      > >> political candidates and for the media to plug them. After all,
                                      > >these
                                      > >> politicians would only look out for their own interests, not the
                                      > >> interests of those who pay them and promote them.
                                      > >
                                      > >By and large, they do. The wealthy do finance political
                                      candidates
                                      > >to buy favors, and as I've mentioned they have more control per
                                      > >capita than the poor. But that control is very limited, wheras
                                      the
                                      > >politicians control over the wealthy (and everyone else) is
                                      virtually
                                      > >unlimited.
                                      >
                                      > That is certainly untrue. A politician who did something the
                                      wealthy
                                      > didn't like would lose campaign money and media coverage.
                                      <SNIP>
                                      > The FCC, IRS, etc. have nominal power to make
                                      > life miserable for the media and the bourgeoisie, but in practice
                                      they
                                      > rarely use that power unless the victim has done something of which
                                      > the rest of the imperialist bourgeoisie disapproves. This is
                                      because
                                      > they are subordinate to the president who is subordinate to the
                                      imperialist
                                      > grand bourgeoisie.

                                      You have failed to demonstrate how the president is subordinate to
                                      the "imperialist grand bourgeoisie". He's elected for a four year
                                      term, can be removed only in the most extreme scenarios, and has the
                                      power of the military at his disposal.

                                      Consider a power struggle between George Bush and Bill Gates. Gates
                                      could certainly withold funds from Bush's re-election campaign in 2
                                      years, finance an opponent, or run against him. He could even buy ad
                                      time to run anti-Bush ads (though not as easily under the
                                      recent "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act"). But that's about it, and
                                      it does little to help Gates any time soon.

                                      On the other hand, the Bush administration could put Gates out of
                                      business virtually overnight. Take away his wealth by taxation or
                                      fine. Nationalize the operating system software industry. If he
                                      mounts any kind of armed resistance, the Military can be sent in to
                                      crush it. Hell, under the PATRIOT act Bush could simply declare
                                      Gates a suspected terrorist and hold him incommunicado indefinitely,
                                      or even execute him.

                                      All of this is so because to a large degree the public DOES NOT
                                      accept initiation of force by private citizens like Gates, yet DOES
                                      accept initiation of force when commanded by government leaders like
                                      Bush.

                                      Bush clearly has greater power than Gates, and will win any power
                                      struggle. In that context, it is silly to refer to Gates as a master
                                      of Bush.

                                      > >Like disease, aggression constitutes a threat against all
                                      classes.
                                      > >The proletarians suffer primarily from reduced opportunity to
                                      create
                                      > >an independant livelihood and build wealth. The small business
                                      > >owners suffer from burdensome regulations and fiat regulatory
                                      > >decisions that can put them out of business overnight. The large
                                      > >business owners suffer from having significant portions of their
                                      > >wealth confiscated.
                                      >
                                      > This is entirely true. Nonetheless the benefits or pursuing
                                      aggressive
                                      > class struggle ultimately outweigh the harm that aggression causes.

                                      I do not see convincing evidence of that.

                                      > >If you were foolish enough to buy a house served by only one
                                      private
                                      > >road with no contract for perpetual access, then you would in fact
                                      be
                                      > >violating the road owner's property rights even if he charged an
                                      > >extremely excessive toll or even outright forbade you to use the
                                      > >road. However, you'd have only yourself to blame in that
                                      situation,
                                      > >and in actual practice that level of stupidity would be extremely
                                      > >rare. :-)
                                      >
                                      > I would agree that such a contract would be wise if the roads were
                                      > to be made private property, but then, this would restrict the road
                                      > owner's right to do as he pleases with his property. Do I object to
                                      > that? No. But it would infringe on the road owner's property
                                      rights.

                                      No, it would not. Voluntarily contracted obligations are not an
                                      infringement of rights. "I agree to do X, Y, and Z in return for the
                                      current owner (in this case the government) selling me the road" is a
                                      fair contract. If the owner didn't want to do X, Y, and Z as
                                      specified in the contract, he shouldn't have bought the road.

                                      This is the primary reason that most such roads would be purchased by
                                      homeowner's associations. The implicit contracts existing with
                                      current roads are such that ownership is naturally most beneficial to
                                      the property owners served by the road.

                                      > >It is
                                      > >only the lack of choice that is fundamentally incompatible with
                                      human
                                      > >happiness...and that's just what you advocate.
                                      >
                                      > Capitalism is not a matter of freedom of choice. It inevitably
                                      evolves
                                      > into imperialism which affects everyone's freedom of choice,
                                      particularly
                                      > those with the misfortune to live in the weaker nations. It is
                                      therefore
                                      > incompatable with the happiness of the bulk of the world's people.

                                      Military imperialism, or the trade and economic specialization
                                      between nations that you also call "imperialism"? The former is not
                                      inevitable, and where it occurs is to be opposed but is not a
                                      consequence of capitalism as communism was forcibly imposed on a
                                      number of "client states" of the USSR shortly after WWII. While the
                                      latter form is an inevitable consequence of capitalism, you have
                                      failed to demonstrate that it is harmful to human happiness. In
                                      fact, absent military force it is quite easy to demonstrate that it
                                      increases human happiness. Absent military force, the
                                      supposedly "exploited" contries are free to NOT trade at all. By
                                      agreeing to trade, they are agreeing that they are better off by
                                      trading than by not trading.

                                      > >Most countries in the so-called "capitalist" third world are run
                                      by
                                      > >thugs one must bribe regularly to get anything done, and only
                                      protect
                                      > >the rights (particularly property rights) of those who are already
                                      > >wealthy and powerful.
                                      >
                                      > I don't see any fundamental difference between that and the
                                      practices
                                      > common in Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan. Here the
                                      bribes
                                      > are called taxes and campaign contributions, and the police and
                                      military
                                      > exist to protect the rights of the wealthy.

                                      Taxes are extortion, not bribary. :-) They are harmful to be sure,
                                      but in a predictable and relatively evenhanded, well documented way
                                      that interferes far less with development and property rights than do
                                      widespread requirements for bribes and policy exceptions whose size
                                      vary by the day and the mood of the bureaucrat. Campaign
                                      contributions are a form of bribary, but one which is significant
                                      only to those already relatively wealthy.

                                      In other words, an American of average means can purchase a small
                                      plot of land and in most cases have the title to that plot justly
                                      enforced, while only paying predictable extortions proportional to
                                      the size of the property (commonly called "property taxes"). He does
                                      not have to make any campaign contributions to do so.

                                      The average citizen of a kleptocracy can do no such thing. First of
                                      all, the bribes required to "process" such a transaction are very
                                      large in proportion to the value of a small plot of land. And even
                                      if the right bribes are paid for the transfer of title to occur, the
                                      rights of the small landowner are not enforced consistently unless
                                      more (unpredictable) bribes are paid. Confiscation by bureaucratic
                                      fiat (for the benefit of the wealthy who have paid other bribes, of
                                      course) is quite commonplace.

                                      As a result, the average citizen of a kleptocracy has little
                                      incentive to accumulate any property whatsoever. As a result, they
                                      don't. Economically what this does is artificially create a steep
                                      economy of scale in the ownership of property -- it's relatively easy
                                      on a proportional basis to acquire and maintain ownership of a lot of
                                      property, but relatively hard to acquire and maintain ownership of a
                                      little property. This in turn creates a stark divide between the
                                      wealthy, who own a lot, and the poor, who own (essentially) nothing.

                                      Unfortunately, the first world capitalist states are becoming more
                                      like the third world kleptocracies by the day. Nominal tax rates are
                                      generally falling, which is a good thing, but unpredictable
                                      regulatory "takings" and "policy exceptions" and "environmental
                                      impact assessments" are becoming far more commonplace. The
                                      difference between first and third world property rights from the
                                      perspective of the average citizen is still quite significant, but
                                      much less stark than it once was. The resultant shrinkage of what is
                                      commonly referred to as the American middle class is a clear warning
                                      of what is to come if such policies continue.

                                      > >First world capitalist countries are to be blamed to the extent
                                      that
                                      > >the kleptocracies were created/maintained by their force. But
                                      > >comparing a kleptocracy to a communist country and calling it a
                                      > >comparison to capitalism is not appropriate either.
                                      >
                                      > It is entirely appropriate. The technological progress of the first
                                      > world is subsidized by the plundering of the third. It also stands
                                      to
                                      > reason that capitalism in the third world would need to use more
                                      overt
                                      > brutality than that in the first world. It is nonetheless still
                                      > capitalism.

                                      We could argue endlessly about the definition of capitalism. I argue
                                      that capitalism definitionally requires consistent protection of
                                      property rights under the rule of law and in actual practice. This
                                      is not the case in the third world kleptocracies, hence I do not
                                      consider them capitalist.

                                      Suffice it to say that I am not advocating the form of government in
                                      place in most third world countries, whatever you choose to call it.
                                      Arguing a comparison of the achievements of such societies is
                                      pointless.

                                      > >I have yet to hear of a country where the rule of law and equal
                                      > >respect for property rights was actually implemented that the
                                      result
                                      > >has not been both prosperity and ingenuity. But I'll admit I'm no
                                      > >expert on the developmental history of the world.
                                      > >
                                      > >--Jason Auvenshine
                                      >
                                      > I am not aware of any country in which that which you call the rule
                                      > of law and respect for property rights was actually implemented
                                      period.
                                      > Arguing about the result of that would be on par with arguing about
                                      > angels dancing on the head of a pin.

                                      In absolutely perfect terms, no.

                                      But in relative terms it definitely has, and when it has the results
                                      have been consistently good.

                                      --Jason Auvenshine
                                    • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                      ... be ... the ... is ... cost ... second ... OK, well at least now our difference is clearly defined. You do not include a rate of return sufficient to
                                      Message 18 of 26 , Jan 8 1:57 PM
                                        --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                        > >Capital does not magically appear. In order to have that
                                        > >hypothetical $10,000 machine TWO things must happen:
                                        > > (1) Someone must produce $10,000 worth of economic value.
                                        > > (2) Someone must invest $10,000 of economic value in a machine,
                                        > >rather than current consumption. In order to do that, there must
                                        be
                                        > >an expected return of more than what was invested. After all, if
                                        the
                                        > >return is not greater than what was invested, current consumption
                                        is
                                        > >both preferable and certain.
                                        > >
                                        > >(1) and (2) are both costs, because absent either one of them the
                                        > >machine will not be purchased. You account for only the first
                                        cost
                                        > >with $1000 per year for 10 years. You fail to account for the
                                        second
                                        > >cost.
                                        >
                                        > There is no second cost. That is surplus value.

                                        OK, well at least now our difference is clearly defined. You do not
                                        include a rate of return sufficient to induce a decision to invest in
                                        the cost of capital, rather you label such a return "surplus value".
                                        This is what I thought the communist position would turn out to be,
                                        but wanted to be certain by getting a complete definition. Such a
                                        position is consistent with my understanding of the labor theory of
                                        value. I hope my position is also now clear -- by including a rate
                                        of return in the cost of capital, the expected surplus value would in
                                        fact be zero over the long run. But as returns to capital are
                                        specifically what you wish to exclude from necessary value, for me to
                                        use a term like "surplus value" as I define it would be
                                        counterproductive.

                                        "Returns to capital" and "surplus value" are thus equivalent. You
                                        can continue to say "surplus value", and I will translate to "returns
                                        to capital". Likewise when I say "returns to capital" you can
                                        translate to "surplus value". This should allow us to converse about
                                        the subject intelligently. :-)

                                        > When surplus value becomes necessary value, all who labour consume
                                        and
                                        > all collectively make the decision to invest. That is socialism.
                                        > An economy can function without surplus value.

                                        Such an economy is not functioning without returns to capital
                                        ("surplus value"), it is simply functioning where the returns to
                                        capital are owned and consumed collectively. Where there is no
                                        return to capital the decisions to invest are so poor that on balance
                                        a $1000 machine will return only $1000 of economic value over its
                                        life. I would certainly argue that returns to capital under
                                        socialism are less than returns to capital under capitalism, owing to
                                        the inefficient nature of collective decision making in regards to
                                        its investment. However, even I would not argue that socialist
                                        decisions are so poor as to, on balance, return _nothing_ beyond the
                                        cost of their capital investments.

                                        Once again, we return to the fundamental question of whether
                                        collectivism or individualism is more amenable to human happiness.

                                        --Jason Auvenshine
                                      • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                        ... No, I thought I made it clear that surplus value was only part of the returns to capital. Necessary value is the part that goes to the proletariat.
                                        Message 19 of 26 , Jan 8 5:57 PM
                                          >OK, well at least now our difference is clearly defined. You do not
                                          >include a rate of return sufficient to induce a decision to invest in
                                          >the cost of capital, rather you label such a return "surplus value".
                                          >This is what I thought the communist position would turn out to be,
                                          >but wanted to be certain by getting a complete definition. Such a
                                          >position is consistent with my understanding of the labor theory of
                                          >value. I hope my position is also now clear -- by including a rate
                                          >of return in the cost of capital, the expected surplus value would in
                                          >fact be zero over the long run. But as returns to capital are
                                          >specifically what you wish to exclude from necessary value, for me to
                                          >use a term like "surplus value" as I define it would be
                                          >counterproductive.
                                          >
                                          >"Returns to capital" and "surplus value" are thus equivalent.

                                          No, I thought I made it clear that surplus value was only part of the
                                          returns to capital. Necessary value is the part that goes to the proletariat.

                                          Capital investment also represents necessary value of workers. I would
                                          contend that surplus value does not go to zero, as the bourgeoisie tend
                                          to live more lavishly as the returns of their investments increase. If
                                          it tended towards zero, they would live more and more modestly.

                                          >Such an economy is not functioning without returns to capital
                                          >("surplus value"), it is simply functioning where the returns to
                                          >capital are owned and consumed collectively. Where there is no
                                          >return to capital the decisions to invest are so poor that on balance
                                          >a $1000 machine will return only $1000 of economic value over its
                                          >life.

                                          As this is based on a misunderstanding I explained earlier, I won't
                                          comment further.

                                          >I would certainly argue that returns to capital under
                                          >socialism are less than returns to capital under capitalism, owing to
                                          >the inefficient nature of collective decision making in regards to
                                          >its investment. However, even I would not argue that socialist
                                          >decisions are so poor as to, on balance, return _nothing_ beyond the
                                          >cost of their capital investments.
                                          >
                                          >Once again, we return to the fundamental question of whether
                                          >collectivism or individualism is more amenable to human happiness.
                                          >
                                          >--Jason Auvenshine

                                          Few capitalist societies have come close to the fantastic rates of economic
                                          growth achieved by the USSR during the Stalin administration, and those
                                          that did only did so with massive investment from other capitalist powers.

                                          --Kevin
                                        • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                          ... Gates personally is not the master of Bush. Bush also is a member of the imperialist grand bourgeoisie. Not every president has been, but all in the past
                                          Message 20 of 26 , Jan 8 6:22 PM
                                            >You have failed to demonstrate how the president is subordinate to
                                            >the "imperialist grand bourgeoisie". He's elected for a four year
                                            >term, can be removed only in the most extreme scenarios, and has the
                                            >power of the military at his disposal.
                                            >
                                            >Consider a power struggle between George Bush and Bill Gates. Gates
                                            >could certainly withold funds from Bush's re-election campaign in 2
                                            >years, finance an opponent, or run against him. He could even buy ad
                                            >time to run anti-Bush ads (though not as easily under the
                                            >recent "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act"). But that's about it, and
                                            >it does little to help Gates any time soon.
                                            >
                                            >On the other hand, the Bush administration could put Gates out of
                                            >business virtually overnight. Take away his wealth by taxation or
                                            >fine. Nationalize the operating system software industry. If he
                                            >mounts any kind of armed resistance, the Military can be sent in to
                                            >crush it. Hell, under the PATRIOT act Bush could simply declare
                                            >Gates a suspected terrorist and hold him incommunicado indefinitely,
                                            >or even execute him.
                                            >
                                            >All of this is so because to a large degree the public DOES NOT
                                            >accept initiation of force by private citizens like Gates, yet DOES
                                            >accept initiation of force when commanded by government leaders like
                                            >Bush.
                                            >
                                            >Bush clearly has greater power than Gates, and will win any power
                                            >struggle. In that context, it is silly to refer to Gates as a master
                                            >of Bush.

                                            Gates personally is not the master of Bush. Bush also is a member
                                            of the imperialist grand bourgeoisie. Not every president has been,
                                            but all in the past century have been subservient to it and have been
                                            voted into office through the direction of the media and campaign
                                            finances based on their known loyalty to this class. Could a president
                                            suddenly decide he or she didn't want to be loyal to this class? Of
                                            course this could happen. If it did, the media would turn against him,
                                            as would Congress (composed of similar class members and lackeys), the
                                            Supreme Court and ultimately the military. That president would be
                                            impeached or overthrown. Politicians are beholden to the imperialist
                                            bourgeoisie, not the reverse.

                                            >> This is entirely true. Nonetheless the benefits or pursuing
                                            >aggressive
                                            >> class struggle ultimately outweigh the harm that aggression causes.
                                            >
                                            >I do not see convincing evidence of that.

                                            That classes succeed in their aims by so doing is proof of that.

                                            >> I would agree that such a contract would be wise if the roads were
                                            >> to be made private property, but then, this would restrict the road
                                            >> owner's right to do as he pleases with his property. Do I object to
                                            >> that? No. But it would infringe on the road owner's property
                                            >rights.
                                            >
                                            >No, it would not. Voluntarily contracted obligations are not an
                                            >infringement of rights. "I agree to do X, Y, and Z in return for the
                                            >current owner (in this case the government) selling me the road" is a
                                            >fair contract. If the owner didn't want to do X, Y, and Z as
                                            >specified in the contract, he shouldn't have bought the road.
                                            >
                                            >This is the primary reason that most such roads would be purchased by
                                            >homeowner's associations. The implicit contracts existing with
                                            >current roads are such that ownership is naturally most beneficial to
                                            >the property owners served by the road.

                                            If one can purchase property only if one agrees to use it a certain
                                            way, a portion of that property right is retained by the seller, and
                                            only a portion of the property right is purchased. If the road is
                                            completely owned by a private party, he or she can do what he or she
                                            likes with it--destroy it, charge extreme tolls, charge no tolls, fail
                                            to maintain it, etc. If the new owner of the road is required to
                                            maintain it by contract and to charge as fees and tolls no more than
                                            110% the cost of maintenance, that "owner" is in fact no more than a
                                            contractor-for-life. The real owner remains the public, and therefore
                                            the government, because it retains the right to control how that road
                                            is maintained and what fees can be charged. It seems, therefore, that
                                            you do not in fact advocate privatizing the roads only the maintenance
                                            contracts of them.

                                            >Military imperialism, or the trade and economic specialization
                                            >between nations that you also call "imperialism"? The former is not
                                            >inevitable, and where it occurs is to be opposed but is not a
                                            >consequence of capitalism as communism was forcibly imposed on a
                                            >number of "client states" of the USSR shortly after WWII. While the
                                            >latter form is an inevitable consequence of capitalism, you have
                                            >failed to demonstrate that it is harmful to human happiness. In
                                            >fact, absent military force it is quite easy to demonstrate that it
                                            >increases human happiness. Absent military force, the
                                            >supposedly "exploited" contries are free to NOT trade at all. By
                                            >agreeing to trade, they are agreeing that they are better off by
                                            >trading than by not trading.

                                            In fact it is inevitable that military force is used on those who
                                            refuse to trade when the [economic] imperialist powers think it
                                            worthwhile. You may not approve of it, but it happens every time.

                                            >Taxes are extortion, not bribary. :-) They are harmful to be sure,
                                            >but in a predictable and relatively evenhanded, well documented way
                                            >that interferes far less with development and property rights than do
                                            >widespread requirements for bribes and policy exceptions whose size
                                            >vary by the day and the mood of the bureaucrat. Campaign
                                            >contributions are a form of bribary, but one which is significant
                                            >only to those already relatively wealthy.
                                            >
                                            >In other words, an American of average means can purchase a small
                                            >plot of land and in most cases have the title to that plot justly
                                            >enforced, while only paying predictable extortions proportional to
                                            >the size of the property (commonly called "property taxes"). He does
                                            >not have to make any campaign contributions to do so.
                                            >
                                            >The average citizen of a kleptocracy can do no such thing. First of
                                            >all, the bribes required to "process" such a transaction are very
                                            >large in proportion to the value of a small plot of land. And even
                                            >if the right bribes are paid for the transfer of title to occur, the
                                            >rights of the small landowner are not enforced consistently unless
                                            >more (unpredictable) bribes are paid. Confiscation by bureaucratic
                                            >fiat (for the benefit of the wealthy who have paid other bribes, of
                                            >course) is quite commonplace.
                                            >
                                            >As a result, the average citizen of a kleptocracy has little
                                            >incentive to accumulate any property whatsoever. As a result, they
                                            >don't. Economically what this does is artificially create a steep
                                            >economy of scale in the ownership of property -- it's relatively easy
                                            >on a proportional basis to acquire and maintain ownership of a lot of
                                            >property, but relatively hard to acquire and maintain ownership of a
                                            >little property. This in turn creates a stark divide between the
                                            >wealthy, who own a lot, and the poor, who own (essentially) nothing.

                                            This is absolutely untrue. There is a large petit-bourgeoisie in
                                            every capitalist third world country. Sure they pay some bribes
                                            that Americans might not, but they generally pay smaller taxes.

                                            >Unfortunately, the first world capitalist states are becoming more
                                            >like the third world kleptocracies by the day. Nominal tax rates are
                                            >generally falling, which is a good thing, but unpredictable
                                            >regulatory "takings" and "policy exceptions" and "environmental
                                            >impact assessments" are becoming far more commonplace. The
                                            >difference between first and third world property rights from the
                                            >perspective of the average citizen is still quite significant, but
                                            >much less stark than it once was. The resultant shrinkage of what is
                                            >commonly referred to as the American middle class is a clear warning
                                            >of what is to come if such policies continue.

                                            The disappearance of the American "middle class" has a lot more to
                                            do with shipping jobs overseas for cheap labour than with any
                                            domestic tax policy or bribery problem. In other words it is
                                            [economic] imperialism that is destroying our own middle class.

                                            >We could argue endlessly about the definition of capitalism. I argue
                                            >that capitalism definitionally requires consistent protection of
                                            >property rights under the rule of law and in actual practice. This
                                            >is not the case in the third world kleptocracies, hence I do not
                                            >consider them capitalist.
                                            >
                                            >Suffice it to say that I am not advocating the form of government in
                                            >place in most third world countries, whatever you choose to call it.
                                            >Arguing a comparison of the achievements of such societies is
                                            >pointless.

                                            I would certainly not contend that you are ADVOCATING the third world
                                            "kleptocracies", merely that their development is the logical result
                                            of the capitalist system, given sufficient time to evolve. That you
                                            are fighting against these bad results is praiseworthy, but they are
                                            in fact the result of capitalism.

                                            >> >I have yet to hear of a country where the rule of law and equal
                                            >> >respect for property rights was actually implemented that the
                                            >result
                                            >> >has not been both prosperity and ingenuity. But I'll admit I'm no
                                            >> >expert on the developmental history of the world.
                                            >> >
                                            >> >--Jason Auvenshine
                                            >>
                                            >> I am not aware of any country in which that which you call the rule
                                            >> of law and respect for property rights was actually implemented
                                            >period.
                                            >> Arguing about the result of that would be on par with arguing about
                                            >> angels dancing on the head of a pin.
                                            >
                                            >In absolutely perfect terms, no.
                                            >
                                            >But in relative terms it definitely has, and when it has the results
                                            >have been consistently good.

                                            No, the result of the societies that are in any way close to what
                                            you advocate has been imperialist [economic and military] plunder of
                                            the third world.

                                            --Kevin
                                          • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                            ... not ... in ... value . ... be, ... of ... rate ... in ... to ... the ... proletariat. If we can t agree on definitions then we can t have a productive
                                            Message 21 of 26 , Jan 9 9:33 PM
                                              --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                              > >OK, well at least now our difference is clearly defined. You do
                                              not
                                              > >include a rate of return sufficient to induce a decision to invest
                                              in
                                              > >the cost of capital, rather you label such a return "surplus
                                              value".
                                              > >This is what I thought the communist position would turn out to
                                              be,
                                              > >but wanted to be certain by getting a complete definition. Such a
                                              > >position is consistent with my understanding of the labor theory
                                              of
                                              > >value. I hope my position is also now clear -- by including a
                                              rate
                                              > >of return in the cost of capital, the expected surplus value would
                                              in
                                              > >fact be zero over the long run. But as returns to capital are
                                              > >specifically what you wish to exclude from necessary value, for me
                                              to
                                              > >use a term like "surplus value" as I define it would be
                                              > >counterproductive.
                                              > >
                                              > >"Returns to capital" and "surplus value" are thus equivalent.
                                              >
                                              > No, I thought I made it clear that surplus value was only part of
                                              the
                                              > returns to capital. Necessary value is the part that goes to the
                                              proletariat.

                                              If we can't agree on definitions then we can't have a productive
                                              discussion. Let me try it again in more concrete terms. You've
                                              defined surplus value as follows:

                                              Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                                              Shorthand: sv = mv - (w + o)

                                              Right away we have to qualify this equation with some assumptions,
                                              only one of which we've touched on previously:
                                              ASSUMPTION1: Equation represents expectations for decision making
                                              purposes, since the costs/values are determined at different times
                                              after the decision to produce has been made. Once production occurs,
                                              the actual values probably will be different from expected values.
                                              But it is the expected values which affect decision making.
                                              ASSUMPTION2: All variables in this equation are based on common
                                              units, for purposes of discussion these can be units of time only if
                                              we assume a certain production rate. If we assume we're talking
                                              about one year, and producing "widgets", then "Market Value" is
                                              really the expected market value of all the widgets produced in the
                                              year, "Wages" is the wages expected to be paid to the workers in the
                                              year, etc.
                                              ASSUMPTION3: For discussion purposes only, we assume a single
                                              machine is used in the production of the widgets.

                                              Now, you have stated that cost of capital is included in overhead.
                                              So:
                                              Overhead = [A bunch of other stuff not germain to discussion] +
                                              Capital Cost
                                              Shorthand: o = x + cc

                                              This also necessitates we make another assumption explicit:
                                              ASSUMPTION4: In a capitalist system, the owner of the capital
                                              expects to receive both the Surplus Value AND the Cost of Capital,
                                              whereas the workers expect to receive only the Wages. In a communist
                                              system, the owner of the capital is the collective, all returns are
                                              expected to be received by the collective (workers), and you have
                                              defined Surplus Value to be zero.

                                              Plugging expanded overhead back into the surplus value equation:
                                              sv = mv - (w + x + cc)

                                              So far so good. Here's where we run into our little disagreement.
                                              You claim that capital cost is only the amount invested in the
                                              equipment divided by its useful life. So you would define:
                                              cc = Cost of machine / Life of machine
                                              Shorthand: cc = Cm/Lm

                                              However, I wish to add the additional cost of a rate of return
                                              sufficient to induce a capital owner to invest. The capital owner
                                              expects to get his principle investment back + a rate of return that
                                              is at least as attractive as current consumption. So I would define:
                                              cc = (Cost of machine / Life of machine) + Market Rate of Return on
                                              Investment.
                                              Shorthand: cc = Cm/Lm + R

                                              My formulation requires the specification of another assumption,
                                              however it is one that can be proved with economics:
                                              ASSUMPTION5: The Market Rate of Return on Investment will converge
                                              to the average rate of return required to induce an owner of capital
                                              to invest that capital rather than consume it.
                                              One thing to be absolutely clear about in my formulation:
                                              Cm/Lm is return OF capital
                                              R is return TO capital

                                              Plugging this all back in we have:
                                              sv[Kevin] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm)
                                              sv[Jason] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm + R)

                                              At this point I believe all relevant independant variables are in
                                              explicit terms: their economic definition is clear and they do not
                                              contain any subcomponents of relevance to the discussion.

                                              From the above formulations two things should also be clear:
                                              CONCLUSION1:
                                              sv[Jason] = 0
                                              If you claim sv[Jason] is not zero, what additional economic
                                              component is there that is not represented in my equation for sv
                                              [Jason]? It will need to be defined explicitely in economic terms.

                                              CONCLUSION2:
                                              sv[Kevin] = R
                                              Again, if sv[Kevin] does not equal R, what economic component other
                                              than R are we talking about?

                                              Just to be sure we're clear, let's try this with some fictional
                                              numbers in a capitalist system.
                                              Expected market value of a certain number of widgets produced in a
                                              year is $400.
                                              mv = 400
                                              Wages for workers to run a widget-making machine are $180/year
                                              w = 180
                                              Other (non-capital) overhead costs involved with producing the
                                              widgets are $20/year
                                              x = 20
                                              A $1000 widget-making machine with a 10 year life that can produce
                                              the assumed widgets in a year has an investment cost (to avoid the
                                              contentious term "capital cost") of $100 per year.
                                              Cm/Lm = 1000 / 10 = 100

                                              At this point we can calculate sv[Kevin]:
                                              sv[Kevin] = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100) = $100

                                              To calculate sv[Jason] we have to know one other item, the rate of
                                              return required to induce a capitalist to invest, "R". The economic
                                              derivation of R is fairly long and involved, but the end result is
                                              that over the long run it is the same formula as sv[Kevin]:
                                              R = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm) = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100) = $100
                                              (This is a 10% return on the original $1000 investment)

                                              In simple terms, this is as stated becuase if the rate of return
                                              required to induce investment were LOWER than what is left over after
                                              wages, overhead, and principle costs are covered, more capitalists
                                              would be induced to invest in widget production, thus increasing
                                              supply and driving down the market value. The converse would be true
                                              if the rate of return required to induce investment were HIGHER than
                                              the formula: fewer capitalists would invest in widget production,
                                              thus constricting supply and increasing market value.

                                              So, plugging R into my version:
                                              sv[Jason] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm + R) = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100 + 100) =
                                              0

                                              Is it now clear why I consider the terms "Surplus Value" and "Returns
                                              to Capital" to be equivalent?

                                              --Jason Auvenshine
                                            • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                              ... Any R is compensated by Cm/Lm. The Cm/Lm covers the cost of the initial investment. These terms refer to ACTUAL values, not EXPECTED values. If the
                                              Message 22 of 26 , Jan 10 8:00 AM
                                                >
                                                >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                                >> >OK, well at least now our difference is clearly defined. You do
                                                >not
                                                >> >include a rate of return sufficient to induce a decision to invest
                                                >in
                                                >> >the cost of capital, rather you label such a return "surplus
                                                >value".
                                                >> >This is what I thought the communist position would turn out to
                                                >be,
                                                >> >but wanted to be certain by getting a complete definition. Such a
                                                >> >position is consistent with my understanding of the labor theory
                                                >of
                                                >> >value. I hope my position is also now clear -- by including a
                                                >rate
                                                >> >of return in the cost of capital, the expected surplus value would
                                                >in
                                                >> >fact be zero over the long run. But as returns to capital are
                                                >> >specifically what you wish to exclude from necessary value, for me
                                                >to
                                                >> >use a term like "surplus value" as I define it would be
                                                >> >counterproductive.
                                                >> >
                                                >> >"Returns to capital" and "surplus value" are thus equivalent.
                                                >>
                                                >> No, I thought I made it clear that surplus value was only part of
                                                >the
                                                >> returns to capital. Necessary value is the part that goes to the
                                                >proletariat.
                                                >
                                                >If we can't agree on definitions then we can't have a productive
                                                >discussion. Let me try it again in more concrete terms. You've
                                                >defined surplus value as follows:
                                                >
                                                >Surplus Value = Market Value - (Wages + Overhead)
                                                > Shorthand: sv = mv - (w + o)
                                                >
                                                >Right away we have to qualify this equation with some assumptions,
                                                >only one of which we've touched on previously:
                                                >ASSUMPTION1: Equation represents expectations for decision making
                                                >purposes, since the costs/values are determined at different times
                                                >after the decision to produce has been made. Once production occurs,
                                                >the actual values probably will be different from expected values.
                                                >But it is the expected values which affect decision making.
                                                >ASSUMPTION2: All variables in this equation are based on common
                                                >units, for purposes of discussion these can be units of time only if
                                                >we assume a certain production rate. If we assume we're talking
                                                >about one year, and producing "widgets", then "Market Value" is
                                                >really the expected market value of all the widgets produced in the
                                                >year, "Wages" is the wages expected to be paid to the workers in the
                                                >year, etc.
                                                >ASSUMPTION3: For discussion purposes only, we assume a single
                                                >machine is used in the production of the widgets.
                                                >
                                                >Now, you have stated that cost of capital is included in overhead.
                                                >So:
                                                >Overhead = [A bunch of other stuff not germain to discussion] +
                                                >Capital Cost
                                                > Shorthand: o = x + cc
                                                >
                                                >This also necessitates we make another assumption explicit:
                                                >ASSUMPTION4: In a capitalist system, the owner of the capital
                                                >expects to receive both the Surplus Value AND the Cost of Capital,
                                                >whereas the workers expect to receive only the Wages. In a communist
                                                >system, the owner of the capital is the collective, all returns are
                                                >expected to be received by the collective (workers), and you have
                                                >defined Surplus Value to be zero.
                                                >
                                                >Plugging expanded overhead back into the surplus value equation:
                                                >sv = mv - (w + x + cc)
                                                >
                                                >So far so good. Here's where we run into our little disagreement.
                                                >You claim that capital cost is only the amount invested in the
                                                >equipment divided by its useful life. So you would define:
                                                >cc = Cost of machine / Life of machine
                                                > Shorthand: cc = Cm/Lm
                                                >
                                                >However, I wish to add the additional cost of a rate of return
                                                >sufficient to induce a capital owner to invest. The capital owner
                                                >expects to get his principle investment back + a rate of return that
                                                >is at least as attractive as current consumption. So I would define:
                                                >cc = (Cost of machine / Life of machine) + Market Rate of Return on
                                                >Investment.
                                                > Shorthand: cc = Cm/Lm + R
                                                >
                                                >My formulation requires the specification of another assumption,
                                                >however it is one that can be proved with economics:
                                                >ASSUMPTION5: The Market Rate of Return on Investment will converge
                                                >to the average rate of return required to induce an owner of capital
                                                >to invest that capital rather than consume it.
                                                >One thing to be absolutely clear about in my formulation:
                                                > Cm/Lm is return OF capital
                                                > R is return TO capital
                                                >
                                                >Plugging this all back in we have:
                                                >sv[Kevin] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm)
                                                >sv[Jason] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm + R)
                                                >
                                                >At this point I believe all relevant independant variables are in
                                                >explicit terms: their economic definition is clear and they do not
                                                >contain any subcomponents of relevance to the discussion.
                                                >
                                                >From the above formulations two things should also be clear:
                                                >CONCLUSION1:
                                                >sv[Jason] = 0
                                                >If you claim sv[Jason] is not zero, what additional economic
                                                >component is there that is not represented in my equation for sv
                                                >[Jason]? It will need to be defined explicitely in economic terms.
                                                >
                                                >CONCLUSION2:
                                                >sv[Kevin] = R
                                                >Again, if sv[Kevin] does not equal R, what economic component other
                                                >than R are we talking about?
                                                >
                                                >Just to be sure we're clear, let's try this with some fictional
                                                >numbers in a capitalist system.
                                                >Expected market value of a certain number of widgets produced in a
                                                >year is $400.
                                                > mv = 400
                                                >Wages for workers to run a widget-making machine are $180/year
                                                > w = 180
                                                >Other (non-capital) overhead costs involved with producing the
                                                >widgets are $20/year
                                                > x = 20
                                                >A $1000 widget-making machine with a 10 year life that can produce
                                                >the assumed widgets in a year has an investment cost (to avoid the
                                                >contentious term "capital cost") of $100 per year.
                                                > Cm/Lm = 1000 / 10 = 100
                                                >
                                                >At this point we can calculate sv[Kevin]:
                                                >sv[Kevin] = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100) = $100
                                                >
                                                >To calculate sv[Jason] we have to know one other item, the rate of
                                                >return required to induce a capitalist to invest, "R". The economic
                                                >derivation of R is fairly long and involved, but the end result is
                                                >that over the long run it is the same formula as sv[Kevin]:
                                                >R = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm) = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100) = $100
                                                >(This is a 10% return on the original $1000 investment)
                                                >
                                                >In simple terms, this is as stated becuase if the rate of return
                                                >required to induce investment were LOWER than what is left over after
                                                >wages, overhead, and principle costs are covered, more capitalists
                                                >would be induced to invest in widget production, thus increasing
                                                >supply and driving down the market value. The converse would be true
                                                >if the rate of return required to induce investment were HIGHER than
                                                >the formula: fewer capitalists would invest in widget production,
                                                >thus constricting supply and increasing market value.
                                                >
                                                >So, plugging R into my version:
                                                >sv[Jason] = mv - (w + x + Cm/Lm + R) = 400 - (180 + 20 + 100 + 100) =
                                                >0
                                                >
                                                >Is it now clear why I consider the terms "Surplus Value" and "Returns
                                                >to Capital" to be equivalent?
                                                >
                                                >--Jason Auvenshine

                                                Any R is compensated by Cm/Lm. The Cm/Lm covers the cost of the initial
                                                investment. These terms refer to ACTUAL values, not EXPECTED values.
                                                If the actual values fall substantially below the expected values, the
                                                business often fails, as has often been the case.

                                                What if the surplus value is at too low a rate to be attractive (e.g.
                                                for $1000 investment, investor gets back $1010)? If it is anticipated,
                                                the investment does not happen. If not, the investor may lose interest
                                                and sell. Nonetheless, that $10 is surplus value, because if the
                                                investment does happen, the investor gets that money.

                                                In the same way, if both the anticipated and actual return is very high
                                                (e.g. for $1000 investment, investor gets back $10,000), and that investor
                                                was very greedy and would only have invested if the return was at least
                                                $5000, the surplus value is still $9000, and not $5000, because all
                                                $9000 goes to the investor. The other $4000 doesn't just disappear.

                                                --Kevin
                                              • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                                ... and Returns ... initial ... values. ... the ... Actual values are what you get when the period under consideration is complete. However, only expected
                                                Message 23 of 26 , Jan 11 10:10 PM
                                                  --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                                  > >Is it now clear why I consider the terms "Surplus Value"
                                                  and "Returns
                                                  > >to Capital" to be equivalent?
                                                  > >
                                                  > >--Jason Auvenshine
                                                  >
                                                  > Any R is compensated by Cm/Lm. The Cm/Lm covers the cost of the
                                                  initial
                                                  > investment. These terms refer to ACTUAL values, not EXPECTED
                                                  values.
                                                  > If the actual values fall substantially below the expected values,
                                                  the
                                                  > business often fails, as has often been the case.

                                                  Actual values are what you get when the period under consideration is
                                                  complete. However, only expected values can be used by real human
                                                  beings to make decisions, because it is impossible to know what the
                                                  actual values are until after a decision to produce has been made.
                                                  It is the decision to invest (or not) and produce (or not) which is
                                                  of consequence. The outcome of a particular decision is important
                                                  insofar as it may influence expected values for the future.

                                                  > What if the surplus value is at too low a rate to be attractive
                                                  (e.g.
                                                  > for $1000 investment, investor gets back $1010)? If it is
                                                  anticipated,
                                                  > the investment does not happen. If not, the investor may lose
                                                  interest
                                                  > and sell. Nonetheless, that $10 is surplus value, because if the
                                                  > investment does happen, the investor gets that money.
                                                  > In the same way, if both the anticipated and actual return is very
                                                  high
                                                  > (e.g. for $1000 investment, investor gets back $10,000), and that
                                                  investor
                                                  > was very greedy and would only have invested if the return was at
                                                  least
                                                  > $5000, the surplus value is still $9000, and not $5000, because all
                                                  > $9000 goes to the investor. The other $4000 doesn't just disappear.

                                                  No, of course it doesn't disappear. But if $5000 was required to
                                                  induce the investor to invest, and the investment actually returned
                                                  $9000, then the value returned to the investor above and beyond what
                                                  which was required, "surplus" as most people would define it, was
                                                  only $4000.

                                                  "Surplus" is generally recognized as unnecessary, something that
                                                  doesn't have to be there to get the desired output.

                                                  You define any return to an investor above the amount originally
                                                  invested as "surplus". But to do so assumes a communist system. In
                                                  a capitalist system, a return on investment is NOT surplus, because
                                                  if the return is not there then the investment won't be made and the
                                                  product cannot be produced.

                                                  The same allegation can be made against me -- that I assume a
                                                  capitalist system by including returns to capital in the cost of
                                                  capital. This is also true, because under communism a return on
                                                  investment is ineed "surplus". But I'm not the one who chose to use
                                                  a term with implied conclusions like "surplus value" in the first
                                                  place. This is also why I proposed the accommodation that "returns
                                                  to capital" R be accepted as equivalent to "surplus value" sv[kevin].

                                                  If you'd like to argue the point that one of the _benefits_ of
                                                  communism is that under such a system returns to capital are surplus,
                                                  that is a reasonable approach and we can have a discussion of that
                                                  point. However, to use a term like "surplus value", define it in
                                                  such a way as to assume a communist system from the outset, as you
                                                  have done, and then presume to have a discussion about the merits of
                                                  communism vs. capitalism utilizing this definition of surplus value
                                                  is a faulty logical procedure. You have assumed your conclusion that
                                                  returns to capital are surplus in your definition of terms, which is
                                                  circular reasoning.

                                                  To make this more concrete, consider two factories each making
                                                  circular plastic parts (wheels for simple toy cars...whatever).
                                                  Factory A has a circular mold into which molten plastic is poured and
                                                  then the circular pieces are ejected after the plastic has
                                                  solidified. Factory B has a circular cutter which cuts out the
                                                  circular pieces from solid square sheets of plastic. Of course,
                                                  simple geometry dictates that circles do not cut from square sheets
                                                  of plastic without also leaving some plastic behind. From the
                                                  perspective of Factory A, the plastic left behind by Factory B's
                                                  cutting process would seem to be "surplus". After all, Factory A
                                                  leaves no such plastic and is able to produce the same circular parts
                                                  as Factory B. Yet from the perspective of Factory B, the plastic
                                                  left behind is not "surplus" at all -- it is an absolutely necessary
                                                  part of Factory B's production process even though it may simply be
                                                  discarded as waste once the circular pieces have been produced.

                                                  The manager of Factory A and the manager of Factory B cannot have a
                                                  productive discussion about the relative merits of their differing
                                                  production processes if they assume from the outset that any plastic
                                                  remnants are defined to be "surplus". The two managers need to
                                                  discuss matters such as total material input costs, capital costs,
                                                  labor costs, energy costs, maintenance costs, etc. in order to
                                                  determine which process is really more efficient. Certainly, the
                                                  manager of Factory A can cite as a benefit of his process that it
                                                  generates no plastic remnants, thus reducing the amount of plastic
                                                  required to produce a given number of circular plastic parts to its
                                                  absolute minimum. But it may well be that the energy costs of
                                                  melting the plastic, and the cleaning/maintenance costs of the molds
                                                  incurred by Factory A far exceed the costs of Factory B's process
                                                  even when the cost of the discarded plastic is included. The two
                                                  managers will never find out which process is superior if the
                                                  discussion starts out with the assumption that any plastic left
                                                  behind is "surplus" and thus any process which generates them is
                                                  definitionally inferior to any process that doesn't generate them.

                                                  I hope you can see how our situation mirrors that of the two factory
                                                  managers. To be useful, our discussion must utilize terms which do
                                                  not presume a conclusion to our disagreement from the outset.
                                                  If "returns to capital" still seems too presumptuous to you, perhaps
                                                  the term "value paid to investors beyond their original investment"
                                                  is acceptable to you? I'm open to suggestions, but we cannot simply
                                                  presume that such value is EITHER surplus OR necessary in our
                                                  definition of terms.

                                                  --Jason Auvenshine
                                                • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                                  ... causes. ... It proves no such thing. The fact that rapists succeed in their aims by holding a knife to their victim s throat doesn t prove that the
                                                  Message 24 of 26 , Jan 12 9:15 PM
                                                    --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                                    > >> This is entirely true. Nonetheless the benefits or pursuing
                                                    > >aggressive
                                                    > >> class struggle ultimately outweigh the harm that aggression
                                                    causes.
                                                    > >
                                                    > >I do not see convincing evidence of that.
                                                    >
                                                    > That classes succeed in their aims by so doing is proof of that.

                                                    It proves no such thing. The fact that rapists succeed in their aims
                                                    by holding a knife to their victim's throat doesn't prove that the
                                                    benefits of doing so outweigh the harm that it causes. Success in
                                                    one's aims is entirely independant from whether or not those aims are
                                                    beneficial or harmful.

                                                    > >No, it would not. Voluntarily contracted obligations are not an
                                                    > >infringement of rights. "I agree to do X, Y, and Z in return for
                                                    the
                                                    > >current owner (in this case the government) selling me the road"
                                                    is a
                                                    > >fair contract. If the owner didn't want to do X, Y, and Z as
                                                    > >specified in the contract, he shouldn't have bought the road.
                                                    > >
                                                    > >This is the primary reason that most such roads would be purchased
                                                    by
                                                    > >homeowner's associations. The implicit contracts existing with
                                                    > >current roads are such that ownership is naturally most beneficial
                                                    to
                                                    > >the property owners served by the road.
                                                    >
                                                    > If one can purchase property only if one agrees to use it a certain
                                                    > way, a portion of that property right is retained by the seller, and
                                                    > only a portion of the property right is purchased. If the road is
                                                    > completely owned by a private party, he or she can do what he or she
                                                    > likes with it--destroy it, charge extreme tolls, charge no tolls,
                                                    fail
                                                    > to maintain it, etc. If the new owner of the road is required to
                                                    > maintain it by contract and to charge as fees and tolls no more than
                                                    > 110% the cost of maintenance, that "owner" is in fact no more than a
                                                    > contractor-for-life. The real owner remains the public, and
                                                    therefore
                                                    > the government, because it retains the right to control how that
                                                    road
                                                    > is maintained and what fees can be charged. It seems, therefore,
                                                    that
                                                    > you do not in fact advocate privatizing the roads only the
                                                    maintenance
                                                    > contracts of them.

                                                    The new owner is bound by a contractual obligation, and in that sense
                                                    is a "contractor for life". Many new homes are built with CC&R's
                                                    that require the owners to keep the property up to rather strict
                                                    aesthetic standards. The principle is the same. In this case, the
                                                    property owners served by the road bought their property with an
                                                    (admittedly implicit) contract with the government that they would
                                                    have access to their property via the road. It is the current
                                                    owner's (government's) responsibility to uphold that contract, and
                                                    insure that it is upheld by any successor owners.

                                                    That the existance of such implicit contracts makes unattractive the
                                                    purchase of many if not most existing government roads by entities
                                                    other than those directly benefitting from their existance and upkeep
                                                    is my whole point.

                                                    Your objection to private roads boils down to nothing more than an
                                                    assumption that the new property owner can violate at will the
                                                    implicit contract you made with the government when you bought your
                                                    property. Selling single-access roads without the contract would
                                                    amount to a breach by the current owner, which is not what
                                                    Libertarians such as myself advocate.

                                                    Thus "privatizing the roads" amounts in practice to transferring both
                                                    ownership and responsibility for most existing roads to entites owned
                                                    by those who benefit from the roads most directly -- those who rely
                                                    on the raod for access to their property. More importantly, it also
                                                    means that the government does not build any new roads.

                                                    I always find it curious how fixated people are on the topic of road
                                                    privatization. To my knowledge, no Libertarian ever ran for office
                                                    stating that the first thing he or she planned to do upon being
                                                    elected and assuming office is privatize all of the roads. Private
                                                    roads are indeed implied by libertarian principles, and I am
                                                    confident that the concept is workable. But it's something that
                                                    would be done later rather than sooner. We'd start privatization
                                                    with such obvious targets as the Post Office and Amtrak, move on to
                                                    Social Security, as well as the banking, health care, and insurance
                                                    activities currently engaged in by the government. If we got through
                                                    all of that and were still in office, then maybe roads would be on
                                                    the agenda.

                                                    > In fact it is inevitable that military force is used on those who
                                                    > refuse to trade when the [economic] imperialist powers think it
                                                    > worthwhile. You may not approve of it, but it happens every time.

                                                    Because the initiation of military force has always been viewed as
                                                    acceptable, particularly by the politicians. That is precisely what
                                                    I am attempting to change.

                                                    > >As a result, the average citizen of a kleptocracy has little
                                                    > >incentive to accumulate any property whatsoever. As a result,
                                                    they
                                                    > >don't. Economically what this does is artificially create a steep
                                                    > >economy of scale in the ownership of property -- it's relatively
                                                    easy
                                                    > >on a proportional basis to acquire and maintain ownership of a lot
                                                    of
                                                    > >property, but relatively hard to acquire and maintain ownership of
                                                    a
                                                    > >little property. This in turn creates a stark divide between the
                                                    > >wealthy, who own a lot, and the poor, who own (essentially)
                                                    nothing.
                                                    >
                                                    > This is absolutely untrue. There is a large petit-bourgeoisie in
                                                    > every capitalist third world country. Sure they pay some bribes
                                                    > that Americans might not, but they generally pay smaller taxes.

                                                    You missed the forest for the trees. Taxes are both proportional and
                                                    predictable. Bribes are much less predictable -- they depend on the
                                                    daily whim of bureaucrats and politicans rather than a public
                                                    deliberative process like legislation. They are also much less
                                                    proportional -- often a flat "fee" is required to get something done
                                                    regardless of whether your income/investment is large or small.

                                                    It is reasonable to invest capital knowing that a certain percentage
                                                    will be confiscated by taxation. You simply figure it as a cost in
                                                    your decision making. It is much less reasonable to do so when
                                                    bribes are required, because you don't know what it will take in
                                                    advance, making it hard to determine whether or not the investment
                                                    will be profitable. Furthermore, it is much more likely that a large
                                                    investment will be profitable than a small one, simply because bribes
                                                    will take a smaller percentage.

                                                    The "large petit-bourgeoisie" you speak of are not actually so. When
                                                    and if such people of average means acquire property that is of value
                                                    to the very wealthy/kleptocrats, it is simply taken, perhaps after a
                                                    small (proportional to wealth) bribe is paid by the person who wants
                                                    it. The petit-bourgeoisie "own" what they own only simply because it
                                                    is not of interest to the wealthy and powerful. There is little to
                                                    no upward mobility as a result. As I said, sadly this practice is
                                                    increasingly becoming the case in the first world capitalist
                                                    countries as well.

                                                    > The disappearance of the American "middle class" has a lot more to
                                                    > do with shipping jobs overseas for cheap labour than with any
                                                    > domestic tax policy or bribery problem. In other words it is
                                                    > [economic] imperialism that is destroying our own middle class.

                                                    Such is the leftist party line. Economic data do not appear to
                                                    support this contention. The median wage in this country has tracked
                                                    relatively close to inflation for decades. It outpaced inflation a
                                                    bit from WWII until the early 70's, then inflation outpaced it a bit
                                                    for a while in the late '70s and early '80s, but then it outpaced
                                                    inflation again throughout much of the '90s. Where we are now in
                                                    terms of gross earnings for the average worker is better in real
                                                    dollar terms than where we were several decades ago. Furthermore,
                                                    real household income has risen substantially over the same period
                                                    due to increasing numbers of dual income households. However, there
                                                    is a stark difference in the amount of taxes paid by the average
                                                    worker/household. The combined impact of payroll tax, sales taxes,
                                                    federal, state, and local income taxes, property taxes, and excise
                                                    taxes hit the average worker at combined rates exceeding 50%. Prior
                                                    to and shortly after WWII the combined rates were 25% or less.
                                                    Simultaneously with the tax increases on the middle class, the
                                                    government has subsidized both the poor and the very rich -- the poor
                                                    with increasing "free" services, direct and indirect cash payments,
                                                    and the very rich with corporate welfare and the ability to shut out
                                                    competition with burdensome red tape that constitutes barrier to
                                                    market entry.

                                                    It is an economic fact that taxing something results in less of it,
                                                    and subsidizing something results in more of it. Quite predictably,
                                                    we've seen a shrinkage of the middle class. Concurrently we've seen
                                                    a growth in the numbers of the poor, and in the magnitude (if not raw
                                                    numbers) of the very rich.

                                                    Certainly, some middle class folks such as factory workers lose their
                                                    jobs and become impoverished because it's cheaper to hire someone
                                                    overseas. On the other hand, our economy seems to keep producing
                                                    many jobs that replace ones which were lost, on pay scales that are
                                                    comparable. The key difference between the new jobs and the old ones
                                                    is that the new ones require increased skills. Most of the folks I
                                                    hear whining about losing their job to cheaper labor simply don't
                                                    want to invest the time and money to improve their own skills. In a
                                                    society which produces rapid technological progress (a very desirable
                                                    thing, I hope you agree) it is simply not reasonable to expect to go
                                                    to school, learn a job, and then do that job and be paid well at it
                                                    until you retire. Yesterday's skills simply aren't as economically
                                                    valuable as today's skills, whether those skills are found locally or
                                                    halfway around the world. Once you factor in relative skills, the
                                                    real results on middle class incomes from "globalization" are
                                                    miniscule.

                                                    --Jason Auvenshine
                                                  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                                    ... Actual values of the past can be used to predict expected values of the future (combined with other anticipated factors), and they are the only means by
                                                    Message 25 of 26 , Jan 12 9:51 PM
                                                      >Actual values are what you get when the period under consideration is
                                                      >complete. However, only expected values can be used by real human
                                                      >beings to make decisions, because it is impossible to know what the
                                                      >actual values are until after a decision to produce has been made.
                                                      >It is the decision to invest (or not) and produce (or not) which is
                                                      >of consequence. The outcome of a particular decision is important
                                                      >insofar as it may influence expected values for the future.

                                                      Actual values of the past can be used to predict expected values of
                                                      the future (combined with other anticipated factors), and they are the
                                                      only means by which the performance of the economy can be evaluated.
                                                      Expected values induce investment, but actual values show whether or
                                                      not surplus value has accrued.

                                                      >No, of course it doesn't disappear. But if $5000 was required to
                                                      >induce the investor to invest, and the investment actually returned
                                                      >$9000, then the value returned to the investor above and beyond what
                                                      >which was required, "surplus" as most people would define it, was
                                                      >only $4000.
                                                      >
                                                      >"Surplus" is generally recognized as unnecessary, something that
                                                      >doesn't have to be there to get the desired output.

                                                      I differ with you on that point. The fact that it all comes back
                                                      shows it to be surplus. To illustrate this point, consider the
                                                      same greedy investor, only this time let's make him overly optimistic.
                                                      He invested $1000 expecting $10,000 to come back, thus meeting his
                                                      threshold of $5000. But let's say this time he was unjustified,
                                                      and only $4000 came back. By Jasonian rules, he's lost $1000,
                                                      but most people would say he made $3000. He may sell out and
                                                      invest elsewhere, but he still accrued $3000 of surplus value.

                                                      >You define any return to an investor above the amount originally
                                                      >invested as "surplus". But to do so assumes a communist system. In
                                                      >a capitalist system, a return on investment is NOT surplus, because
                                                      >if the return is not there then the investment won't be made and the
                                                      >product cannot be produced.
                                                      >
                                                      >The same allegation can be made against me -- that I assume a
                                                      >capitalist system by including returns to capital in the cost of
                                                      >capital. This is also true, because under communism a return on
                                                      >investment is ineed "surplus". But I'm not the one who chose to use
                                                      >a term with implied conclusions like "surplus value" in the first
                                                      >place. This is also why I proposed the accommodation that "returns
                                                      >to capital" R be accepted as equivalent to "surplus value" sv[kevin].
                                                      >
                                                      >If you'd like to argue the point that one of the _benefits_ of
                                                      >communism is that under such a system returns to capital are surplus,
                                                      >that is a reasonable approach and we can have a discussion of that
                                                      >point. However, to use a term like "surplus value", define it in
                                                      >such a way as to assume a communist system from the outset, as you
                                                      >have done, and then presume to have a discussion about the merits of
                                                      >communism vs. capitalism utilizing this definition of surplus value
                                                      >is a faulty logical procedure. You have assumed your conclusion that
                                                      >returns to capital are surplus in your definition of terms, which is
                                                      >circular reasoning.

                                                      In the first place, it is Karl Marx who deserves credit for this
                                                      analysis, not I, though I have the privilege of defending it in this
                                                      forum. Your use of the term R in the equation is nothing but double-
                                                      dipping. Sure, the capitalist expects a return, but the return R
                                                      is not consumed but goes as surplus value to the capitalist. It is
                                                      this use of the term R to add a cost to the equation which does not
                                                      in fact exist that is circular reasoning.

                                                      >To make this more concrete, consider two factories each making
                                                      >circular plastic parts (wheels for simple toy cars...whatever).
                                                      >Factory A has a circular mold into which molten plastic is poured and
                                                      >then the circular pieces are ejected after the plastic has
                                                      >solidified. Factory B has a circular cutter which cuts out the
                                                      >circular pieces from solid square sheets of plastic. Of course,
                                                      >simple geometry dictates that circles do not cut from square sheets
                                                      >of plastic without also leaving some plastic behind. From the
                                                      >perspective of Factory A, the plastic left behind by Factory B's
                                                      >cutting process would seem to be "surplus". After all, Factory A
                                                      >leaves no such plastic and is able to produce the same circular parts
                                                      >as Factory B. Yet from the perspective of Factory B, the plastic
                                                      >left behind is not "surplus" at all -- it is an absolutely necessary
                                                      >part of Factory B's production process even though it may simply be
                                                      >discarded as waste once the circular pieces have been produced.
                                                      >
                                                      >The manager of Factory A and the manager of Factory B cannot have a
                                                      >productive discussion about the relative merits of their differing
                                                      >production processes if they assume from the outset that any plastic
                                                      >remnants are defined to be "surplus". The two managers need to
                                                      >discuss matters such as total material input costs, capital costs,
                                                      >labor costs, energy costs, maintenance costs, etc. in order to
                                                      >determine which process is really more efficient. Certainly, the
                                                      >manager of Factory A can cite as a benefit of his process that it
                                                      >generates no plastic remnants, thus reducing the amount of plastic
                                                      >required to produce a given number of circular plastic parts to its
                                                      >absolute minimum. But it may well be that the energy costs of
                                                      >melting the plastic, and the cleaning/maintenance costs of the molds
                                                      >incurred by Factory A far exceed the costs of Factory B's process
                                                      >even when the cost of the discarded plastic is included. The two
                                                      >managers will never find out which process is superior if the
                                                      >discussion starts out with the assumption that any plastic left
                                                      >behind is "surplus" and thus any process which generates them is
                                                      >definitionally inferior to any process that doesn't generate them.
                                                      >
                                                      >I hope you can see how our situation mirrors that of the two factory
                                                      >managers. To be useful, our discussion must utilize terms which do
                                                      >not presume a conclusion to our disagreement from the outset.
                                                      >If "returns to capital" still seems too presumptuous to you, perhaps
                                                      >the term "value paid to investors beyond their original investment"
                                                      >is acceptable to you? I'm open to suggestions, but we cannot simply
                                                      >presume that such value is EITHER surplus OR necessary in our
                                                      >definition of terms.
                                                      >
                                                      >--Jason Auvenshine

                                                      The analogy of the plastic parts is quite plainly inapplicable. Unlike
                                                      the plastic of the analogy, the R term is not wasted. It goes back
                                                      to the investor. As I have told you repeatedly, the cost of the
                                                      initial investment is covered by the capital over useful life portion
                                                      of the equation. Anything over and above that is surplus value,
                                                      regardless of how little or great the threshold needed to induce
                                                      investment. If it all comes back, it's all gain for the capitalist,
                                                      wealth obtained without work, hence surplus value.

                                                      --Kevin Walsh
                                                    • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                                      ... That most people prefer to get sex in some other way than rape shows that this is not the case, but those who obtain economic success find class struggle
                                                      Message 26 of 26 , Jan 13 12:25 AM
                                                        >
                                                        >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                                        >> >> This is entirely true. Nonetheless the benefits or pursuing
                                                        >> >aggressive
                                                        >> >> class struggle ultimately outweigh the harm that aggression
                                                        >causes.
                                                        >> >
                                                        >> >I do not see convincing evidence of that.
                                                        >>
                                                        >> That classes succeed in their aims by so doing is proof of that.
                                                        >
                                                        >It proves no such thing. The fact that rapists succeed in their aims
                                                        >by holding a knife to their victim's throat doesn't prove that the
                                                        >benefits of doing so outweigh the harm that it causes. Success in
                                                        >one's aims is entirely independant from whether or not those aims are
                                                        >beneficial or harmful.

                                                        That most people prefer to get sex in some other way than rape shows
                                                        that this is not the case, but those who obtain economic success find
                                                        class struggle useful, and it is backed by at least the threat of force.

                                                        >The new owner is bound by a contractual obligation, and in that sense
                                                        >is a "contractor for life". Many new homes are built with CC&R's
                                                        >that require the owners to keep the property up to rather strict
                                                        >aesthetic standards. The principle is the same. In this case, the
                                                        >property owners served by the road bought their property with an
                                                        >(admittedly implicit) contract with the government that they would
                                                        >have access to their property via the road. It is the current
                                                        >owner's (government's) responsibility to uphold that contract, and
                                                        >insure that it is upheld by any successor owners.
                                                        >
                                                        >That the existance of such implicit contracts makes unattractive the
                                                        >purchase of many if not most existing government roads by entities
                                                        >other than those directly benefitting from their existance and upkeep
                                                        >is my whole point.
                                                        >
                                                        >Your objection to private roads boils down to nothing more than an
                                                        >assumption that the new property owner can violate at will the
                                                        >implicit contract you made with the government when you bought your
                                                        >property. Selling single-access roads without the contract would
                                                        >amount to a breach by the current owner, which is not what
                                                        >Libertarians such as myself advocate.
                                                        >
                                                        >Thus "privatizing the roads" amounts in practice to transferring both
                                                        >ownership and responsibility for most existing roads to entites owned
                                                        >by those who benefit from the roads most directly -- those who rely
                                                        >on the raod for access to their property. More importantly, it also
                                                        >means that the government does not build any new roads.
                                                        >
                                                        >I always find it curious how fixated people are on the topic of road
                                                        >privatization. To my knowledge, no Libertarian ever ran for office
                                                        >stating that the first thing he or she planned to do upon being
                                                        >elected and assuming office is privatize all of the roads. Private
                                                        >roads are indeed implied by libertarian principles, and I am
                                                        >confident that the concept is workable. But it's something that
                                                        >would be done later rather than sooner. We'd start privatization
                                                        >with such obvious targets as the Post Office and Amtrak, move on to
                                                        >Social Security, as well as the banking, health care, and insurance
                                                        >activities currently engaged in by the government. If we got through
                                                        >all of that and were still in office, then maybe roads would be on
                                                        >the agenda.

                                                        Maintaining contracts as a perpetual condition of property ownership
                                                        does in fact transfer only part of the property. Just as the home
                                                        owner's association retains part of the property and some control
                                                        over it, so would such an agreement for road maintenance. Calling it
                                                        private ownership with such severe restrictions would be disingenuous.

                                                        >> In fact it is inevitable that military force is used on those who
                                                        >> refuse to trade when the [economic] imperialist powers think it
                                                        >> worthwhile. You may not approve of it, but it happens every time.
                                                        >
                                                        >Because the initiation of military force has always been viewed as
                                                        >acceptable, particularly by the politicians. That is precisely what
                                                        >I am attempting to change.

                                                        Lot's of luck, but I doubt you will be able to do so without yourself
                                                        engaging in force.

                                                        >You missed the forest for the trees. Taxes are both proportional and
                                                        >predictable. Bribes are much less predictable -- they depend on the
                                                        >daily whim of bureaucrats and politicans rather than a public
                                                        >deliberative process like legislation. They are also much less
                                                        >proportional -- often a flat "fee" is required to get something done
                                                        >regardless of whether your income/investment is large or small.
                                                        >
                                                        >It is reasonable to invest capital knowing that a certain percentage
                                                        >will be confiscated by taxation. You simply figure it as a cost in
                                                        >your decision making. It is much less reasonable to do so when
                                                        >bribes are required, because you don't know what it will take in
                                                        >advance, making it hard to determine whether or not the investment
                                                        >will be profitable. Furthermore, it is much more likely that a large
                                                        >investment will be profitable than a small one, simply because bribes
                                                        >will take a smaller percentage.

                                                        Bribes are, in fact, predictable, once you've gotten to know the
                                                        country and the bureaucracy, and people do manage to do business and
                                                        reap huge profits in such environments.

                                                        >The "large petit-bourgeoisie" you speak of are not actually so. When
                                                        >and if such people of average means acquire property that is of value
                                                        >to the very wealthy/kleptocrats, it is simply taken, perhaps after a
                                                        >small (proportional to wealth) bribe is paid by the person who wants
                                                        >it. The petit-bourgeoisie "own" what they own only simply because it
                                                        >is not of interest to the wealthy and powerful. There is little to
                                                        >no upward mobility as a result. As I said, sadly this practice is
                                                        >increasingly becoming the case in the first world capitalist
                                                        >countries as well.

                                                        That is quite simply false. The only block to upward mobility of
                                                        the third world petit-bourgeoisie is competition from multinational
                                                        capital.

                                                        >> The disappearance of the American "middle class" has a lot more to
                                                        >> do with shipping jobs overseas for cheap labour than with any
                                                        >> domestic tax policy or bribery problem. In other words it is
                                                        >> [economic] imperialism that is destroying our own middle class.
                                                        >
                                                        >Such is the leftist party line. Economic data do not appear to
                                                        >support this contention. The median wage in this country has tracked
                                                        >relatively close to inflation for decades. It outpaced inflation a
                                                        >bit from WWII until the early 70's, then inflation outpaced it a bit
                                                        >for a while in the late '70s and early '80s, but then it outpaced
                                                        >inflation again throughout much of the '90s. Where we are now in
                                                        >terms of gross earnings for the average worker is better in real
                                                        >dollar terms than where we were several decades ago. Furthermore,
                                                        >real household income has risen substantially over the same period
                                                        >due to increasing numbers of dual income households. However, there
                                                        >is a stark difference in the amount of taxes paid by the average
                                                        >worker/household. The combined impact of payroll tax, sales taxes,
                                                        >federal, state, and local income taxes, property taxes, and excise
                                                        >taxes hit the average worker at combined rates exceeding 50%. Prior
                                                        >to and shortly after WWII the combined rates were 25% or less.
                                                        >Simultaneously with the tax increases on the middle class, the
                                                        >government has subsidized both the poor and the very rich -- the poor
                                                        >with increasing "free" services, direct and indirect cash payments,
                                                        >and the very rich with corporate welfare and the ability to shut out
                                                        >competition with burdensome red tape that constitutes barrier to
                                                        >market entry.
                                                        >
                                                        >It is an economic fact that taxing something results in less of it,
                                                        >and subsidizing something results in more of it. Quite predictably,
                                                        >we've seen a shrinkage of the middle class. Concurrently we've seen
                                                        >a growth in the numbers of the poor, and in the magnitude (if not raw
                                                        >numbers) of the very rich.
                                                        >
                                                        >Certainly, some middle class folks such as factory workers lose their
                                                        >jobs and become impoverished because it's cheaper to hire someone
                                                        >overseas. On the other hand, our economy seems to keep producing
                                                        >many jobs that replace ones which were lost, on pay scales that are
                                                        >comparable. The key difference between the new jobs and the old ones
                                                        >is that the new ones require increased skills. Most of the folks I
                                                        >hear whining about losing their job to cheaper labor simply don't
                                                        >want to invest the time and money to improve their own skills. In a
                                                        >society which produces rapid technological progress (a very desirable
                                                        >thing, I hope you agree) it is simply not reasonable to expect to go
                                                        >to school, learn a job, and then do that job and be paid well at it
                                                        >until you retire. Yesterday's skills simply aren't as economically
                                                        >valuable as today's skills, whether those skills are found locally or
                                                        >halfway around the world. Once you factor in relative skills, the
                                                        >real results on middle class incomes from "globalization" are
                                                        >miniscule.
                                                        >
                                                        >--Jason Auvenshine

                                                        The facts do not bear out your taxation hypothesis. The upper brackets
                                                        of the income tax were reduced substantially 20 years ago. Any "shrinking"
                                                        of the middle class since that time can't have been due to overtaxation.
                                                        The real difference between old and new jobs is that the new jobs are
                                                        parasitical, largely consisting of shuffling papers and herding electrons.
                                                        They only manage the wealth of the transnationals, not creating any.
                                                        Other new jobs are largely in the low-paid service sector.

                                                        --Kevin
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