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Re: [azsecularhumanists] Re: corporations

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  • 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 1 of 26 , Dec 21 4:01 PM
      >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 2 of 26 , Jan 2, 2003
        --- 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 3 of 26 , Jan 3, 2003
          >
          >--- 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 4 of 26 , Jan 3, 2003
            >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 5 of 26 , Jan 5, 2003
              --- 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 6 of 26 , Jan 5, 2003
                --- 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 7 of 26 , Jan 6, 2003
                  >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 8 of 26 , Jan 6, 2003
                    >
                    >--- 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 9 of 26 , Jan 7, 2003
                      --- 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 10 of 26 , Jan 8, 2003
                        --- 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 11 of 26 , Jan 8, 2003
                          >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 12 of 26 , Jan 8, 2003
                            >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 13 of 26 , Jan 9, 2003
                              --- 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 14 of 26 , Jan 10, 2003
                                >
                                >--- 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 15 of 26 , Jan 11, 2003
                                  --- 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 16 of 26 , Jan 12, 2003
                                    --- 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 17 of 26 , Jan 12, 2003
                                      >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 18 of 26 , Jan 13, 2003
                                        >
                                        >--- 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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