Friday, November 12, 2010

Krugman, Brooks, and Hijacked Good Sense

Every once in a while, Washington trots out a "commission" that consists of Very Wise People Who Have Served In Government, happily gobbling up what taxpayers have provided. The "commission" meets (and meets and meets) and after a while, its members stand before the news cameras and announce that they have a Very Wise Pronouncement to make.

Not surprisingly, after the Very Wise Commission declares its Oracle, the Usual Suspects denounce whatever what was said, people go back to work, and the Report of the Very Wise People goes onto a shelf where it remains until the next Very Wise Commission is formed. Thus it is with the latest dog-and-pony show of Washington, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Because nothing can occur in Washington without fanfare and moral theater, the latest Very Wise Commission has its website, photo ops, and even a report. These people -- who helped create the very conditions that we now face -- solemnly have told us that we need to pay higher taxes, cut spending, and live within our means. Obviously, even that (as phony as it might be) is financially and morally intolerable.

In the name of being an equal-opportunity annoyer, I present the side-by-side views of Paul Krugman and David Brooks, to columnists who really deserve each other. On the one side, we have an "economist" who hasn't a clue about capital or factors of production in general, who has no idea as to what entrepreneurship is, and really believes money is nothing more than a quantity variable to be placed within a mathematical algorithm.

On the other side, we have an Apostle of "National Greatness," that code term that comes from the Abbott and Costello of Neoconservatism, Brooks and William Kristol (who apparently is now a close adviser to Sarah Palin, Lord save us) telling us that we have to love "National Greatness" more than ourselves if we want to stay on this side of the cliff. It is hard to know where to begin, my day job beckons, and, dammit, it IS my birthday. However, duty calls....

Krugman is angry not because the commission has recommended this or that, but rather because the commission actually thinks that government should consume less, not more, of the country's wealth. He writes:
Start with the declaration of “Our Guiding Principles and Values.” Among them is, “Cap revenue at or below 21% of G.D.P.” This is a guiding principle? And why is a commission charged with finding every possible route to a balanced budget setting an upper (but not lower) limit on revenue?
Should we make Social Security -- a true Ponzi scheme -- on more solid footing? Perish the thought!
Let’s turn next to Social Security. There were rumors beforehand that the commission would recommend a rise in the retirement age, and sure enough, that’s what Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson do. They want the age at which Social Security becomes available to rise along with average life expectancy. Is that reasonable?

The answer is no, for a number of reasons — including the point that working until you’re 69, which may sound doable for people with desk jobs, is a lot harder for the many Americans who still do physical labor.

But beyond that, the proposal seemingly ignores a crucial point: while average life expectancy is indeed rising, it’s doing so mainly for high earners, precisely the people who need Social Security least. Life expectancy in the bottom half of the income distribution has barely inched up over the past three decades. So the Bowles-Simpson proposal is basically saying that janitors should be forced to work longer because these days corporate lawyers live to a ripe old age.
How does one "reform" a Ponzi scheme? I guess raise taxes, which solves everything. But Krugman does not stop there. No, he engages in what I think is a rather bizarre attack that apparently undercuts what he has been claiming on his pages: that ObamaCare actually will cut healthcare costs. Read on:
It’s true that the PowerPoint contains nice-looking charts showing deficits falling and debt levels stabilizing. But it becomes clear, once you spend a little time trying to figure out what’s going on, that the main driver of those pretty charts is the assumption that the rate of growth in health-care costs will slow dramatically. And how is this to be achieved? By “establishing a process to regularly evaluate cost growth” and taking “additional steps as needed.” What does that mean? I have no idea. (Emphasis mine)

It’s no mystery what has happened on the deficit commission: as so often happens in modern Washington, a process meant to deal with real problems has been hijacked on behalf of an ideological agenda. Under the guise of facing our fiscal problems, Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson are trying to smuggle in the same old, same old — tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net.
Anyone who has read Krugman regularly knows that Krugman is a True Believer when it comes to Congressional Budget Office claims about the future of the cost of healthcare, now that the government will be controlling it. (See the chart below to get a better understanding of how this process will work. I'm sure you will conclude that the system is in very, very, very good hands.)


Now, why is it heresy for Krugman to claim that ObamaCare will cut costs, but it is not OK for Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to do the same? I don't know, although I do believe that any notion that what Congress passed earlier this year will cut anything but the quality and supply of medical care is ludicrous. Nonetheless, Krugman believes the CBO pronouncements like Jerry Falwell believed in Biblical inerrancy -- except when someone else who Krugman doesn't like says the same thing.

Then there is David "National Greatness" Brooks. What can I say, except to include the following from his latest column:
It will take a revived patriotism to get people to look beyond their short-term financial interest to see the long-term national threat. Do you really love your tax deduction more than America’s future greatness? Are you really unwilling to sacrifice your Social Security cost-of-living adjustment at a time when soldiers and Marines are sacrificing their lives for their country in Afghanistan?

Like the civil rights movement, this movement will ask Americans to live up to their best selves. But it will do other things besides.

It will have to restore the social norms that prevailed through much of American history: when narcissism and hyperpartisanship was mitigated by loyalties larger than tribe and self; when competition between the parties was limited and constructive, not total and fratricidal.

This movement will have to build institutions to support the leaders who make the hard bargains. As in the civil rights era, politicians won’t make big changes unless they are impelled and protected by a social upsurge.

Most important, this movement will have to develop a governing philosophy and a policy agenda. Right now, orthodox liberals and conservatives have their idea networks, and everybody else is intellectual roadkill. This coming movement will have to revive the American System: a governing philosophy that believes in targeted federal efforts to arouse growth, social mobility and responsibility.

Like the chairmen’s report, this movement could demand that Congress wipe out tax loopholes and begin anew. It could protect federal aid to the poor while reducing federal subsidies to the upper-middle class.

The coming movement may be a third party or it may support serious people in the existing two. Its goal will be unapologetic: preserving American pre-eminence. It will preserve America’s standing in the world on the grounds that this supremacy is a gift to our children and a blessing for the earth.
There are some things that simply don't need a reply, as they are ridiculous enough on the face. Brooks' column is one of those things.

128 comments:

AP Lerner said...

It's truly silly to, on one hand, compare government spending to a Ponzi scheme, yet, on the other hand, claim the government can print unlimited amounts of money. The only conclusion that I can draw is a) you don't understand what a Ponzi scheme is or b) you don't understand what a printing press is.

You can't have it both ways.

"On the one side, we have an "economist" who hasn't a clue about capital or factors of production in general, who has no idea as to what entrepreneurship is, and really believes money is nothing more than a quantity variable to be placed within a mathematical algorithm"

I'm curious where the "criticism of America's most prominent public intellectual and champion of Keynesian economics. I am part of the Austrian School of Economics, and I critique Krugman's writings from that perspective" is in this statement.

William L. Anderson said...

Yeah, but at least I hope you liked the chart!

AP Lerner said...

I love that chart!

William L. Anderson said...

Good! Keep posting. I must admit I cannot keep up with all of the comments.

If you ever come my way, let me know and we will have a good time arguing, raising hell, and putting down a few.

AP Lerner said...

"If you ever come my way, let me know and we will have a good time arguing, raising hell, and putting down a few."

That sounds like a lot fun and I will definitely keep the offer in mind if I ever make it out to that area!

bravo said...

"It's truly silly to, on one hand, compare government spending to a Ponzi scheme, yet, on the other hand, claim the government can print unlimited amounts of money. "

You act like the government cant run a ponzi scheme and a counterfeiting operation at the same time.

Also for some reason i have a feeling if you put krugman and brooks in the same room one of their heads would explode out of nothing more than psychic force, like scanners. Both if were lucky.

Lord Keynes said...

Should we make Social Security -- a true Ponzi scheme -- on more solid footing? Perish the thought!

Like other lazy commentators you subscribe to the fallacy of composition, and use the ridiculous “Ponzi scheme” analogy:

http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2010/06/rolling-over-government-debt-and-debt.html

Richard said...

I agree that comparing a government program, like social security, to a ponzi scheme is a poor analogy.

Ponzi schemes defraud individuals by enticing them to participate in schemes that are doomed to fail.

Governments force individuals to pay for schemes that they believe are doomed to fail.

Big difference.

bravo said...

Good point richard. My bad.

Lord Keynes said...

Governments force individuals to pay for schemes that they believe are doomed to fail.

Who is "they"? Individuals?

The majority of them vote for government intervention in the economy and a basic welfare state repeatedly - "they" consistently reject Austrian economics.

bravo said...

Yes LK your right individuals dont matter. Majorities do. Im sure every lynch mob in history must have been right. Do you read the shit you type?

Lord Keynes said...

Yes LK your right individuals dont matter. Majorities do. etc

Excellent, excellent - a total straw man argument.

Morals come from an objective ethical theory, e.g., one can make the case for rule utilitarianism (a theory that Mises held) or a liberal contractarianism (a la Rawls).

Majority vote certainly does NOT determine what is right and wrong, but as long as what government does or what people vote for is moral as judged by one's objective theory of ethics, it is completely justified.

Keynesian monetary and fiscal policies and a welfare state are perfectly moral, as judged by rule utilitarianism or contractarianism.

Natural rights/law based theories placing private property at the centre or ethics as some kind of absolute inviolable right are a joke.

Richard said...

LK,

You want to force me to do something, I prefer you pick up the gun, put it against my head and make me do it. Please be sure to also mention that this is all part of some 'contract' or 'objective ethic' when you do. Might as well add insult to injury.

Lord Keynes said...

You want to force me to do something etc. etc.

If you find your own "big government" country (e.g., the US, UK, Canada etc) so immoral
(from your point of view), you are perfectly free to leave and live somewhere else. Why even stay?

And, given that the majority of the voting public has the choice to vote for Ron Paul or some libertarian, but utterly rejects them repeatedly, why should the majority be subject the tyranny of an Austrian minority??

Lord Keynes said...

be subject to the

Bill said...

"If you find your own "big government" country (e.g., the US, UK, Canada etc) so immoral
(from your point of view), you are perfectly free to leave and live somewhere else. Why even stay?"

Uh, Because I don't want to be a victim of U.S. foreign policy (to paraphrase the great Bill Hicks)

But really though, this is a terrible neocon argument and I recommend you not use it again unless you don't want to be taken seriously.

Lord Keynes said...

this is a terrible neocon argument and I recommend you not use it again unless you don't want to be taken seriously.

It isn't a "neocon" argument. If you really believe a big government/income tax/Keynesian country is utterly immoral, then why stay in such a country?
You can live in many countries that have no income tax or much less government.

Uh, Because I don't want to be a victim of U.S. foreign policy

An absurd answer. There are plenty of countries free from U.S. foreign policy that have less government/lower taxes than the US.

Why not go to some Carribean tax haven, like the Cayman Islands where there is no income tax, non resident tax, or capital gains tax?

Lord Keynes said...

Or you could go to countries with no personal income taxes and no (or very little) payroll tax like Brunei, British Virgin Islands, Monaco, or Andorra.

Bill said...

"It isn't a "neocon" argument."

So perhaps during those prewar years in Nazi Germany all those Jews that didn't flee Germany at the behest of Hitler really, really WANTED to be imprisoned in concentration camps and/or murdered. After all they could've left, but they didn't. Ah, it all makes sense now. I think I'm getting it.

You're right, it's not a neocon argument - it's a lot worse.

Lord Keynes said...

So perhaps during those prewar years in Nazi Germany all those Jews that didn't flee Germany at the behest of Hitler really, really WANTED etc .

Oh dear.
Now you are equating progressive taxation, the welfare state and Keynesian economics with Nazi mass murder? A new low!

Lord Keynes said...

And moreover you still have not answered the question:

Given that the majority of the voting public has the choice to vote for Ron Paul or some libertarian, but utterly rejects them repeatedly, why should the majority be subject to the tyranny of an Austrian minority??

bill said...

"Now you are equating progressive taxation, the welfare state and Keynesian economics with Nazi mass murder? A new low!"

No, I was merely taking your argument to it's logical conclusion. And furthermore, seeing that you completely dodged it I can only assume that you don't entirely disagree with it.

Lord Keynes said...

And furthermore, seeing that you completely dodged it I can only assume that you don't entirely disagree with it.

Good work!
Truly pathetic - a testimony to the poverty of your arguments.

Mass murder of and unjustly deriving people of their jobs, status, legal and political rights and citizenship is, and was, an outrageous, despicable crime.

Equating such Nazi crimes with, say, progressive taxation in a democracy is a truly desperate bankrupt argument.

But perhaps that is what is to be expected from Austrians.

bravo said...

LK you do know the nazis were the national socialist party right? again, maybe a proofread or two before you hit that submit button?

Lord Keynes said...

LK you do know the nazis were the national socialist party right? again

They called themselves "national socialists". So what?
Augusto Pinochet would have called himself a supporter of the "free market" - and indeed he implemented a Friedmanite neoliberal program.
Does this mean Austrian economics or neoclassical economics is refuted because of Pinochet's crimes?

You would be better off learning some basic logic, like the fallacy of composition.

This is the type of fallacious argument that you use:

(1) Nazi fascists called themselves national “socialists”.
(2) Some modern liberals or social democrats also call themselves “socialists”
(3) Therefore such modern liberals or social democrats are Nazi fascists.

This is as stupid, flawed, laughable and fallacious as

(1) A communist state has nationalised industry
(2) Augusto Pinochet’s Chile (1973–1990) had a nationalised industry called CODELCO (National Copper Corporation of Chile).
(3) Therefore Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship was communist.

But, oh, wait, basic logic doesn’t matter for some people here!

Bala said...

LK,

You are just too hilarious for words.

"Now you are equating progressive taxation, the welfare state and Keynesian economics with Nazi mass murder? A new low!"

If I were the person speaking, of course I would. A government that systematically plunders its people - that is what a government that coercively takes away people's property in the unholy name of tax (progressive or otherwise) does - as mass murder of a lower order of magnitude.

Coercing people to part with their money at gun point IS a gross violation of liberty. Hence, taxation is fascistic. If you don't agree, go drown in the nearest ocean for all I care.

Anonymous said...

But you forget, Bala, that LK doesn't care about individual liberty.

"Mass murder of and unjustly deriving people of their jobs, status, legal and political rights and citizenship is, and was, an outrageous, despicable crime."

You do realize that you've described United States' foreign policy here, correct?

And AP:

Because Social Security "funds" (meaning IOUs) are separate from other federal revenue, in can still be considered a classic Ponzi scheme. The money will eventually have to be put back into that particular fund, and printing more money to fill it will only mutate the crisis into another bubble.

Richard said...

LK,

Bill's point was that the Nazi's encouraged Jews to leave Germany, but most of them did not. According to your logic, then, they could not complain about the injustices done to them. You still have not addressed that. (You wrote " If you really believe a big government/income tax/Keynesian country is utterly immoral, then why stay in such a country?")

I might also add that there are plenty of countries that provide more social services than the US. Why don't people like you who advocate for such policies here move to them?

As far as the alternative of the public being subjected to the tyranny of an Austrian minority - I really do not see how that applies. If 50%, 60% or 95% of the public wanted to participate in a 'program' called social security, under an 'Austrian' minority they would certainly be free to do so. I don't see how they would be living under a tyranny in such a case. They could not, however, force those that did not want to contribute to do so. It is those who do not want to contribute, but are forced to do so, that live under a tyranny.

Anonymous said...

"But you forget, Bala, that LK doesn't care about individual liberty."

I haven't forgotten but am just trying to bring his fundamentally totalitarian outlook to the surface.

Thanks,
Bala

Richard said...

Whoops.

first sentence: 'Nazis' not 'Nazi's'
last sentence: 'who live under tyranny.' not 'that live under tyranny.'

Anonymous said...

@AP Lerner: "'If you ever come my way, let me know and we will have a good time arguing, raising hell, and putting down a few.'

That sounds like a lot fun and I will definitely keep the offer in mind if I ever make it out to that area!"

Don't forget to rent a U-Haul for all of the charts, and to hire a pretty model with a laser pointer to manage the charts while you're illustrating your points.

...

Hell, may as well record it and put it on youtube or some other video site. I might even pay to see that. =P

bravo said...

LK, next time dont toss out the "love it or leave it" bullshit to people to dismantle that stuff alllllll day. Thats a new low even for you.

Lord Keynes said...

If I were the person speaking, of course I would. A government that systematically plunders its people - that is what a government that coercively takes away people's property in the unholy name of tax (progressive or otherwise) does - as mass murder of a lower order of magnitude.

Impressive.
You refute yourself and reduce your argument to a laughable drivel.

Progressive taxation endorsed by a voting public again and again, that delivers basic public infrastructure, defense, law and order, health care, and support for the elderly, unemployed and disabled is "mass murder of a lower order of magnitude"?

Who needs to refute Austrians when they refute themselves so well.

Lord Keynes said...

Bill's point was that the Nazi's encouraged Jews to leave Germany, but most of them did not. According to your logic, then, they could not complain about the injustices done to them.

Utterly pathetic.
My statement implies or entails no such thing.

Lord Keynes said...

I might also add that there are plenty of countries that provide more social services than the US. Why don't people like you who advocate for such policies here move to them?

I don't live in the US. Checkmate.

Lord Keynes said...

I really do not see how that applies. If 50%, 60% or 95% of the public wanted to participate in a 'program' called social security, under an 'Austrian' minority they would certainly be free to do so

And Austrians in such a system would be free riding thieves using public infrastructure that has
been built by public money over many decades.

If you "freely" opt to pay no taxes, then presumably you would agree to never use any public road, street, bridge, highway, beach, national park etc?

bravo said...

Wear your ignorance proudly. Free riding theives. Thats a good one.

Richard said...

LK,‬

Because I am against taxes I am also against infrastructure, education, care for the elderly, healthcare etc.? Hardly. I am very much for these things. That is why I would don’t want the government anywhere near them, where it hopelessly screws them up.

And how an ’Austrian’ form of government in which people pay voluntarily for the services they want entails ‘free riding’ off of infrastructure built with past ‘public’ (stolen) money is really strange. I suppose when the people of the Soviet Union overthrew their communist government they were immediately free riding off the infrastructure supplied by the ‘glories’ of the Soviet system? Same for China? When Deng privatized farmland, all those new owners were now ‘free-riding’ on the backs of millions who died of starvation during Mao’s Cultural Revolution?

And your statement that people who believe their government is ‘immoral’ don’t like it can just move does entail that they can be have their property taken from them against their wishes. According to you, if people don’t move because they are taxed, then they must be OK with the tax. Well, put it to a real test then. Tell them they can stay where they are, and pay only for what they want.

And, seriously, because you don’t live in the US this serves as some sort of ‘Checkmate’ to my ‘tit for tat’? You said if people don’t like the taxes they pay, they could leave. It follows that if people in the U.S. want universal healthcare, they can leave as well.

I suppose there is a silver lining to a one-world central bank and government that many Keynesians advocate. Should they successfully implement it at least they would have to think twice before telling people ‘if you don’t like it you can leave’ - let alone from a country they themselves don’t even live in.

Bala said...

LK,

"Progressive taxation endorsed by a voting public again and again, that delivers basic public infrastructure, defense, law and order, health care, and support for the elderly, unemployed and disabled is "mass murder of a lower order of magnitude"?"

It does not matter what you do with stolen wealth. No amount of "good work" done with stolen wealth negates the point that it was stolen in the first place.

And when the stealing is done systematically by government by negating property rights (as any system of taxation must), it can only be called fascism.

Go find the nearest ocean to drown in.

You are really despicable and pathetic.

Lord Keynes said...

A prize example of poor reasoning:

Coercing people to part with their money at gun point IS a gross violation of liberty. Hence, taxation is fascistic.

You dishonestly imply with the phrase "at gun point" that people are arbitrarily executed for not paying taxes, as if they are threatened with death in some authoritarian state.

Compare that with reality: failure to pay taxes will normally just result in a fine or imprisonment, after you have been tried and found guilty by a jury of peers in a court of law.

And since progressive taxation is itself voted for by the majority of the community in elections again and again (and they have the free choice to elect a libertarian who would dismantled taxes and government but reject this choice), then by definition the majority of them consent to it.

Once could easily design a contractarian state formally in which at voting age young people have the right to either (1) accept and abide by fundamental principles in their country (progressive taxes, welfare state, Keynesian macroeconomic management) or (2) leave and go to another country with their preferred system.

In practice, or course, you are already free to do (2) if you are an Austrian.

Lord Keynes said...

You said if people don’t like the taxes they pay, they could leave. It follows that if people in the U.S. want universal healthcare, they can leave as well.

And the majority of Americans want national health insurance!:

Another Poll Shows Majority Support for Single-Payer
http://www.healthcare-now.org/another-poll-shows-majority-support-for-single-payer/

Ergo it is the minority who could leave, if such a system were in fact implemented and they didn’t like it.

Lord Keynes said...

It does not matter what you do with stolen wealth. No amount of "good work" done with stolen wealth negates the point that it was stolen in the first place.

So now you are retreating from your absurd claim that a progressive income taxes voted for in democracy is "mass murder of a lower order of magnitude"???

And what exactly is "mass murder of a lower order of magnitude" anyway?

Bala said...

LK,

You are becoming truly laughable.

"You dishonestly imply with the phrase "at gun point" that people are arbitrarily executed for not paying taxes, as if they are threatened with death in some authoritarian state."

Oh Great One!! Please explain what happens when people under a benevolent, democratic government refuse to pay their taxes?

Are you trying to say that (all) people pay their taxes voluntarily? This is the most laughaable, pathetic piece of drivel you have ever churned out.

"ompare that with reality: failure to pay taxes will normally just result in a fine or imprisonment, after you have been tried and found guilty by a jury of peers in a court of law. "

You #$%^&@* - This is still COERCION. Hence is IS a gun to the head.

The moment you imprison a person, you are coercing him. Which part of this are you denying?

"And since progressive taxation is itself voted for by the majority of the community in elections again and again (and they have the free choice to elect a libertarian who would dismantled taxes and government but reject this choice), then by definition the majority of them consent to it."

What about the freaking minority that does not want to pay? What does your precious democratically elected government do if not take away a part of their life by coercing them?

"In practice, or course, you are already free to do (2) if you are an Austrian."

You totalitarian - Who the hell is the government to ask me to leave the country? Do they own it?

And if you claim they do, you are in effect proclaiming collectivism or fascism (not that they are very different from each other).

I am happy to note that I am attaining some success in bringing out the totalitarian in you. You need to be a totalitarian to be a Keynesian.

Bala said...

LK,

"So now you are retreating from your absurd claim that a progressive income taxes voted for in democracy is "mass murder of a lower order of magnitude"???"

No. I am not. In case you have not realised, it is the people who are robbed in the name of tax who are murdered. When a portion of their life's work is taken away from them by force, that too systematically and with the certainty that it is going to happen all through their lives, it is no different from chopping off an arm or a leg.

You must be really criminally-oriented to fail to see that that "mass murder" I am proclaiming is of the people who are robbed in the name of tax.

You totalitarians will never understand this. That is why we despise you.

Bala said...

LK,

"Ergo it is the minority who could leave, if such a system were in fact implemented and they didn’t like it."

Who the hell are you to ask anyone at all to leave? Since only the owner of a property may ask people to go beyond its boundaries, do you own the region that is called the country? Does your precious, democratically elected majoritarian government own it?

Lord Keynes said...

Please explain what happens when people under a benevolent, democratic government refuse to pay their taxes?

Already did.
Failure to pay taxes results in a fine or imprisonment, after you have been tried and found guilty by a jury of peers in a court of law.

You broke the law; you commit the crime, you do the time, like any other crime.

This is still COERCION. Hence is IS a gun to the head.

Excellent. So you admit that people are NOT arbitrarily executed for not paying taxes in democratic states?

What about the freaking minority that does not want to pay?

They live in a democracy and must abide by the law until it is changed.
Or if they really found their country so immoral, they could freely choose to leave.

Who the hell is the government to ask me to leave the country? Do they own it?

Excellent – another straw man.
I DON'T force you or demand that you leave.
*You* are free to leave, if you want. If you find the prospect of paying for roads, bridges, hospitals, pensions so immoral that you think it is (to quote you) “"mass murder of a lower order of magnitude", then you have the option to leave freely of your own will.

Lord Keynes said...

When a portion of their life's work is taken away from them by force, that too systematically and with the certainty that it is going to happen all through their lives, it is no different from chopping off an arm or a leg.

There you have it!!
If progressive income tax "is no different from chopping off an arm or a leg", then why would the majority of the voting population
freely vote for it and repeatedly endorse by electing governments who continue the practice?

Lord Keynes said...

Who the hell are you to ask anyone at all to leave?

As I said, I don't demand that you leave.
You yourself have the free option of leaving if you think progressive taxes are tantamount to "chopping off an arm or a leg".

But as I said, if that were true, why would a majority vote for progressive taxes in the first place.

Bala said...

LK,

"You broke the law; you commit the crime, you do the time, like any other crime."

So you fail to address the point that making the coercion of individuals to deprive them of their property legal does not make it any less of robbery. It is just legalised plunder.

"Excellent. So you admit that people are NOT arbitrarily executed for not paying taxes in democratic states?"

Yes. But they are robbed of the sweat of their brow and hard-earned wealth to earn which they devoted a significant part of their lives. That part of their lives has been erased by the act of systematic plunder that taxation is.

"They live in a democracy and must abide by the law until it is changed."

Once again, I see the fallacious notion that passing something into Law magically transforms it from "criminal" to "legitimate" cropping up.

"Or if they really found their country so immoral, they could freely choose to leave."

How deceptively and surreptitiously you use the word "freely". You totalitarian - the moment the gun of the government enters the picture, the choice is no more free.

"I DON'T force you or demand that you leave."

You do force me by threatening to use force against me if I do not pay or leave.

Bala said...

LK,

"If progressive income tax "is no different from chopping off an arm or a leg", then why would the majority of the voting population
freely vote for it and repeatedly endorse by electing governments who continue the practice?"

Probably because they are ignorant? Probably because they do not understand that taxation is robbery or even equivalent to the chopping off of a limb or two? Maybe government propaganda and the collectivist morality propagated by the government-controlled education system has a role to play in it? After 10-15 years of brainwashing in the name of education, it is possible that people lose the ability to think logically?

Lord Keynes said...

Probably because they are ignorant?

How could you be ignorant of something that is "no different from chopping off an arm or a leg"????
Um, wouldn't people notice that kind of very painful thing and object to it?

Probably because they do not understand that taxation is robbery or even equivalent to the chopping off of a limb or two?

LOL!!!
How could people NOT understand something that is the "equivalent to the chopping off of a limb or two".

And now you are exposed as a total ignoramus. After talking again and again about the importance of sujectivism, you TOTALLY fail to understand that you have NO evidence that your highly subjective view that taxation is the "equivalent to the chopping off of a limb or two" just isn't shared by most people.

Most people would endorse progressive taxation because they favor public goods like infrastructure, education and healthcare.

A sample of real world evidence as opposed to libertarian fantasy world:

US
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/50940/earth_to_politicians%3A_americans_support_taxing_the_rich/

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/02/snapshot022210.html

Australia
http://www.smh.com.au/business/taxpayers-giving-the-rich-a-cheap-ride-survey-20100117-meeb.html

Lord Keynes said...

So you fail to address the point that making the coercion of individuals to deprive them of their property legal does not make it any less of robbery. It is just legalised plunder.

No, it isn't.
The belief that there is an *absolute* right to property is derived from utterly unconvincing arguments based on natural law or natural rights.

The idea of natural law is a farce, and the case for natural rights a joke.

Even Mises knew that:

There is, however, no such thing as natural law and a perennial standard of what is just and what is unjust. Nature is alien to the idea of right and wrong. “Thou shalt not kill” is certainly not part of natural law. “Thou shalt not kill” is certainly not part of natural law. The characteristic feature of natural conditions is that one animal is intent upon killing other animals and that many species cannot preserve their own life except by killing others. The notion of right and wrong is a human device, a utilitarian precept designed to make social cooperation under the division of labor possible. All moral rules and human laws are means for the realization of definite ends. There is no method available for the appreciation of their goodness or badness other than to scrutinize their usefulness for the attainment of the ends chosen and aimed at (Mises, 1998 [1949]. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. p. 716).

Lord Keynes said...

The myth of absolute property rights:

Margaret Jane Davies, Property: meanings, histories, theories, p. 16.

Property rights are a legal or social construct, not derived from nature.

Richard said...

LK,

Being a utilitarian does not mean one must reject absolute property rights. If you're a 'rule' utilitarian, you could very well advocate them as necessary for 'maximizing' social benefit.

In fact, in the following passage from his book Liberalism (p 109-100)*, Mises upholds the right of secession - even down to the single individual;

"The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars. … However, the right of self-determination of which we speak is not the right of self-determination of nations, but rather the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of every territory large enough to form an independent administrative unit. If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done."

I really don't think you should be employing Mises as an advocate for your "kick the bums out or throw 'em in jail" social order strategy.


* From this post http://www.stephankinsella.com/2009/08/07/was-mises-an-anarchist/

Lord Keynes said...

Being a utilitarian does not mean one must reject absolute property rights.

That may be true.
And what utilitarian advocates absolute property rights, out of interest? Can you give names?

whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with

And in Mises' view what would happen to the minority that does not agree with the majority?
Is their best solution to just freely leave (as I just said above)?

If we then formed states based on referendums on what we want our fundamental moral ideas and government policies to be, a Keynesian, social democratic state would be legitimate?

The best choice for the libertarian minority in such a territory would be to leave?

If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done

The phrase "If it were in any way possible" implies that in fact it is impossible in practice.

Richard said...

LK,

I think its pretty clear that, according to Mises, a minority has the right to secede from a majority. I don't see how that implies a minority must 'leave.' Secession does not imply physically re-loacting at all. When the people in the American Colonies seceded from Britain, they didn't 'leave.'

Mises certainly believed a government should be strictly limited to protecting property rights. In this sense I would say he believed in near-absolute property rights. Yet, in the passage I cited, he wrote that individuals ought to have the right of self determination, which suggests that an individual has the right to secede from any government - even one that is limited to only protecting property rights. I would say, then that he did support absolute property rights (so there is one name for you - Mises). As the Kinsella post points out some Austrians beleive that, because Mises did believe in the right of each individual to self determination, he more or less advocated anarchy;

"See also Ludwig von Mises and the Justification of the Liberal Order, by William Baumgarth (“Mises, then, opened himself up to the claims of the individualist anarchists, who believe such a radical self-determination not only feasible but, on Mises’ own grounds, the ultimate source of social peace.”).

Finally, I disagree with your assessment that self determination for each individual is impossible. I don't know why Mises would advocate it if he thought it was impossible. His chief argument against socialism was that is was not possible, so I am not sure why he would be advocating the impossible.

"If we then formed states based on referendums on what we want our fundamental moral ideas and government policies to be, a Keynesian, social democratic state would be legitimate?"

Your question reminds me of a story I heard from libertarian Prof. Walter Block. He said he was at a conference and struck up a conversation with a woman. When she learned he was a libertarian, she mentioned that she was a socialist, and that they probably would not get along. He replied 'that depends, are you a voluntary socialist?"

If people want to form a 'collective' based on Keynesian Social Democratic principles, I would have no problem with that as long as it was voluntary. I don't think it would work, but have at it. Just don't force me to join it.

Bala said...

LK,

"The belief that there is an *absolute* right to property is derived from utterly unconvincing arguments based on natural law or natural rights."

Whatever gave you the idea that my argument assumes that there IS an "absolute" right to property? For the study of economics, it is irrelevant as to whether the concept "property" is a product of natural rights theory or a social construct or anything else that you may decide to think of it as. What matters is the concept itself and the implications of the choice to respect or not to respect property rights.

Very simply put, in the absence of respect for property rights, a voluntary (direct or indirect) exchange economy is impossible. It is impossible for human beings to value a thing except if it is for immediate consumption if the thing may be taken away from them at any instant of time. This automatically eliminates all possibility of expressing time preference. All human action will have to be for direct consumption. That, automatically, means that human beings will have to lead a hunter-gatherer existence. All possibility of co-operation is eliminated as well and human existence would be one of perpetual conflict and bloodshed.

It is the respect for property rights that makes an economy possible. It is the concept "property" that makes valuation possible and for people to express their time preferences in the form of decisions to consume, save, store, exchange, invest, produce for exchange, enter into contracts, etc.

This is why the concept of "property rights" is a prerequisite for any study of economics. Those who choose not to respect the concept "property rights" cannot by any stretch of imagination call themselves economists. By that yardstick, you and your ilk (Keynes included) are not economists but just advocates for systematic organised plunder.

So, economic historian, go back to your chronicling and stop bothering real economists with your mindless blabbering.

Lord Keynes said...

I think its pretty clear that, according to Mises, a minority has the right to secede from a majority. I don't see how that implies a minority must 'leave.

You misunderstand my argument.
I can accept (for the sake of argument) that a region within a state could hold a referendum and want to secede. For example, say people in Wales hold such a referendum and 95% of the people vote to secede from the UK, and they do so (NOT impossible either, with UK devolution).

Still you simply have not answered my question:

What would happen to the 5% minority that does not agree with the majority, and who vehemently disagree with an independent Wales?

How are they not subject to coercion by the majority when it secedes??

What is the best choice for this 5% of the population Wales who do not want to break with the UK?

If they choose to continue living in Wales, they will be continuously coerced by the new state that upholds Wales' independence from the UK, against their wishes.

Unless you get 100% support, you would still have the problem of a coerced minority.

Lord Keynes said...

Whatever gave you the idea that my argument assumes that there IS an "absolute" right to property?

So to be clear: you DON’T believe in the absolute right to property?

Very simply put, in the absence of respect for property rights, a voluntary (direct or indirect) exchange economy is impossible.

Let’s assume this is correct. If there no “property rights” in the Western European social democracies, how then have they had massive voluntary exchange economies over the past 50 years??

But of course, in the legal framework of modern Western states, there is clear respect for a well defined set of particular property rights. These rights are a legal construct. They can be justified by an objective theory of morality like rule utilitarianism.

These rights are perfectly compatible with progressive taxation and Keynesian economics: people and businesses already know what their rights are and yet still don’t vote for governments that would abolish progressive taxes.

Those who choose not to respect the concept "property rights" cannot by any stretch of imagination call themselves economists.

You already concede "property rights" could be a legal/social construct.
As long as your rights are defined and made clear beforehand (e.g., you pay taxes of a certain % based on your income) and changeable only by a properly elected democratic government with valid legislation, then you already have a system that “respects” your property rights.

bravo said...

Hmmm LK I see you've gone from "a 60% majority is just fine when they want taxes and public healthcare" to "you have to have 100% unanimous support or people are being oppressed"... so which one is it buddy?

Lord Keynes said...

Hmmm LK I see you've gone from "a 60% majority... etc

Rubbish.
Read what I wrote:

What is the best choice for this 5% of the population Wales who do not want to break with the UK?

[You could change the 5% to 1%, 6%, 7%, 10%, 15%, 17%, 20%, 25%, 30%, or 40% and anything in between]

If they choose to continue living in Wales, they will be continuously coerced by the new state that upholds Wales' independence from the UK, against their wishes.

Unless you get 100% support, you would still have the problem of a coerced minority.

Mises believes that a "minority has the right to secede from a majority." But what of the minority within that minority?

I am asking you: what is your own libertarian solution to this coerced minority???

Or just tell me that you DON'T agree with Mises that a "minority has the right to secede from a majority" by majority vote.

Also, if Mises doesn't believe the "minority has the right to secede from a majority" by vote, then how do they exercise that right?

Lord Keynes said...

And, by the way, if you say the answer is for that minority to secede, you are effectively saying they should not be citizens of the new state, but either form their own state within it or go somewhere else - so you're just back to the suggestion I made above.

Bala said...

LK,

"You already concede "property rights" could be a legal/social construct."

I do not. I said it is irrelevant for a discussion of economics. What is relevant is what "property rights" are. It is simply the principle that no man may initiate force to take away that which is in the possession of another. Taxation, with or without majority approval, involves the initiation of force. Hence, your argument for tax is completely bankrupt and non-economic.

Bala said...

LK,

"If there no “property rights” in the Western European social democracies, how then have they had massive voluntary exchange economies over the past 50 years??"

Who said there was no concept of "property rights"? Further, you fail to understand that the rate of degeneration of a society would be different depending on the extent of property rights violation. Taxation is a relatively moderate form of property rights violation and leads to a low degeneration of society. It is possible to experience periods of growth though in the long run, degeneration has to set in.

Lord Keynes said...

It is simply the principle that no man may initiate force to take away that which is in the possession of another

And how exactly do you justify that?

If a village of 100 people has one well which is in the possession of one man, who suddenly refuses to give water to anyone else, and there is no rain or any other water and people are dying of thirst, you believe that the dying people may not under any circumstances use force against the man (but not kill or wound him) to take what water they need just to survive?

If yes, you have demonstrated the absolute moral bankruptcy of your principle. You're saying property "rights" are more important than the preservation of human life.

If no, then it is obvious that rule utilitarianism allows the
use of reasonable force to take some property, if people's lives are at stake.

In the case of welfare for the unemployed and elderly and basic heath care for the sick, exactly the same principle applies : reasonable force, if it is necessary, is justified by rule utilitarianism to prevent human suffering.

Bala said...

LK,

"And how exactly do you justify that?"

Where on earth did you get the idea that I am trying to justify it? I am just saying

1. There is a concept called "property" and another called "property rights"
2. People (as in individuals) may or may not recognise the concept and respect the property rights of other people
3. General lack of respect for property rights will take a society back to the days of the hunter-gatherers
4. General respect for property rights implies a society based on free market principles. Such a society and ONLY such a society has the potential to be on a sustained and sustainable path of economic growth. Anything else is doomed to failure sooner or later.
5. Taxation is a form of violating property rights.
6. Hence a society in which people are taxed will be less well-off (in the long run) than a society in which people are not taxed

Points 1-4 are meant to help a rational individual decide whether his long-range interests are better satisfied by respecting property rights or otherwise. Points 5 & 6 are an extension to the concept "taxation".

Your water example is most idiotic because it conveniently ignores multiple possibilities.

1. that it is probably more beneficial for the man to TRADE the water in his well for things that he values
2. that there are probably other options for the rest of the village, like looking for other suppliers of water from other regions or digging a well or drilling a bore-well on their own lands
3. that the one with the well was the ant and the rest of the village were the grasshoppers (did you learn that story in your childhood?) and therefore that the other villagers deserve their fate

In any case, a society that believes that it is alright to violate the property rights of the well-owner is not going to go too far. It is doomed in any case. It is only a matter of time before its economy would collapse to the level of the hunter-gatherers.

Finally, no amount of sugar-coating the pill (words like "reasonable") transforms a society based on the violation of property rights into one that can follow a sustainable and sustained economic growth path. It has to collapse. It is only a matter of when and not if.

This is what economics explains. Looks like you never learnt these basic lessons. Now! Go back to your chronicling and stop troubling those who are interested in discussing and learning economics.

bravo said...

I did read what you wrote. It was rubbish.

Richard said...

LK,

To answer your question of the coerced minority of 5% in Wales - they would not live under the new 'government' formed by the 95%. They would continue to live under the UK gov't.

If in the 5% 2% wanted to live under some other gov't, they could do so. The remaining 3% would live under the UK gov't.

Nobody has to go anywhere.

Bala said...

LK,

This one is the most priceless gem that you have spilled till date.

"You're saying property "rights" are more important than the preservation of human life."

You totalitarian shill for mass-murder - Property rights are the best way man has discovered till date for the preservation and even for the lengthening of the span and quality of human life. By presenting a false dichotomy between "property rights" and the preservation of human life, you have revealed in full view the depth of your depravity.

It is "property rights" that enabled man to step out of the jungle and live in cooperation with other men. It is "property rights" that made all scientific, technological, economic, social, etc., progress possible in the first place. It is "property rights" that makes it possible for men to live in peace with each other and in fact profit from peace.

You have demonstrated, rather brilliantly, how Keynesians are among the scum of the earth and how Keynesian economic notions are the deadliest poison affecting the minds of people on this planet.

Bob Roddis said...

Are you really unwilling to sacrifice your Social Security cost-of-living adjustment at a time when soldiers and Marines are sacrificing their lives for their country in Afghanistan?

Mr. Brooks is a confused little man.

1. "Cost-of-living" adjustment? Why not call it what it really is: Your Keynesian money dilution adjustment. The sole point of the Keynesian Hoax is to allow and promote the unseen theft and transfer of assets and wealth from oblivious victims.

2. Soldiers sacrificing their lives FOR THEIR COUNTRY in the Middle East? Right.

Lord Keynes said...

1. There is a concept called "property" and another called "property rights" etc etc

Your points 1 to 6 require absolute property rights.
In the absence of any convincing arguments for absolute property rights, your whole argument collapses like a house of cards.

Your water example is most idiotic because it conveniently ignores multiple possibilities. etc

Evading the counterfactual is a sign of your intellectual bankruptcy.

The example I gave easily applies to, say, people who lost their jobs and are starving to death, or people dying from illness because they cannot afford to pay for health care, when no private charity is available.

In your view it is perfectly moral to allow such people to die because property rights are more important than human life?

This is why the vast majority of voters shun Austrian and other libertarian parties - libertarian morality is debased.

And I bet you continue to evade this point, which will show the complete moral bankruptcy too of your view of "property rights".

Lord Keynes said...

You totalitarian shill for mass-murder - Property rights are the best way man has discovered till date for the preservation and even for the lengthening of the span and quality of human life.

Dead wrong.
Modern science and our ability to develop technology from it is "best way man has discovered to date for the preservation and even for the lengthening of the span and quality of human life".

A great deal of basic research in science is nothing but a collective enterprise done by government funding and often in the state sector or institutions like universities funded by the state.

Lord Keynes said...

You have demonstrated, rather brilliantly, how Keynesians are among the scum of the earth and how Keynesian economic notions are the deadliest poison affecting the minds of people on this planet.

LOL!!
Abuse is easy. E.g.,

"You have demonstrated, rather brilliantly, how Austrians are among the scum of the earth and how Austrian economic notions are the deadliest poison affecting the minds of people on this planet"

Argument free from fallacies and insults is rather mote difficult - try it some time!

Richard said...

LK,

"A great deal of basic research in science is nothing but a collective enterprise done by government funding and often in the state sector or institutions like universities funded by the state."

Well then, the Soviet Union should have been a smashing success, just as Paul Samuelson predicted it would be before it went belly up.

The Industrial Revolution provided the most impressive expansion of economic wealth in world history. Population growth exploded. It had nothing to do with government supported scientific research.

You can't make scientific discoveries and develop technology with capital accumulation. You can't accumulate capital without prices. You can't have prices without property rights and a free market.

Lord Keynes said...

Well then, the Soviet Union should have been a smashing success, just as Paul Samuelson predicted it would be before it went belly up.

There is no reason why modern science
would have made a brutal dictatorship and inefficient command economy "work".

Try again.

The Industrial Revolution provided the most impressive expansion of economic wealth in world history.

You mean where technologies derived from modern scientific knowledge increased productivity?

It had nothing to do with government supported scientific research.

If there had been greater government funding of science in the 18th and 19th centuries, then the speed of scientific progress and the pace of economic development would have been much greater.

Again - utterly pathetic argument.

Lord Keynes said...

You can't make scientific discoveries and develop technology with capital accumulation.

Utter rubbish.
You don't need "capital accumulation" to discover contingent facts about the natural world and how it works.

Richard said...

LK,

"If there had been greater government funding of science in the 18th and 19th centuries, then the speed of scientific progress and the pace of economic development would have been much greater."

Can you provide evidence for this assertion?

Richard said...

LK,

"Utter rubbish.
You don't need "capital accumulation" to discover contingent facts about the natural world and how it works."

How do people eat while they busy themselves with discovering contingent facts about the natural world? Do they do this while they are picking berries and eating them right off the bush?

Lord Keynes said...

It is a counterfactual based on an inductive argument: modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success.
It stands to reason that if more people a had been involved in science then, with greater resources available and greater effort, greater progress would have been made.

Lord Keynes said...

How do people eat while they busy themselves with discovering contingent facts about the natural world?

Does it not occur to you that in the process of gathering food, the human mind is PERFECTLY able to analyze the world around it and gather facts and use induction to discover new knowledge?
How else do you think people discovered fire and invented tools?

And you might know that hunter gatherer societies often had common property? Did this prevent them from discovering contingent facts about the natural world? Of course it **#$ didn't.

iawai said...

Love it or leave it.

Taxation is theft.

Private property is immoral.

Government funding of science necessarily speeds progress.

Lifeboat situations imply the need for monopoly users of force.

This troll really rolls out the good arguments, and I would love to just demolish his arguments to leave viewers of these comments no doubts as to which viewpoint is correct, moral, and promotes prosperity.

But alas, he'd just throw more fallacious arguments around, and ignore those real refutations of his points to scapegoat the low-hanging fruit of others' worst arguments.

So in the end, LK, just go get a room, and set out a theory that wins us over. It's obvious that you're not gaining adherents in this confrontational arena, you're just further polarizing yourself from those who don't already buy into your worldview. Maybe then I'll come to your blog and point out the myriad errors in your own non sequitur filled logic.

Anonymous said...

LK,

Pray tell us just how science can ever make progress without a functioning economy. Pray also tell us how a functioning economy is possible without property rights. And my 6 points do not require absolute property rights. I don't need to justify property rights. All I am saying is that absent property rights, there cannot be a functioning economy. That means no civilisation. It is amazing how you continue to evade this.

When the example you gave is in itself idiotic, its application to any other situation is also equally idiotic. Why do you deliberately rule out cooperation among humans to justify your totalitarian tendencies?

Let me repeat - the dichotomy you present between property rights and preservation of human life is false. It is respect for property rights that makes preservation and improvements in the quality and quantity of human life possible.

Bala

Richard said...

LK,

"It is a counterfactual based on an inductive argument: modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success."

Where is the evidence that "modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success"

"And you might know that hunter gatherer societies often had common property? Did this prevent them from discovering contingent facts about the natural world? Of course it **#$ didn't"

I never said such societies prevented individuals from discovering facts about the world around them. I maintain that in order to do so they had to save food, etc. in order to devote time to studying the world around them. They could not have advanced beyond a hunter-gatherer society without first recognizing property rights and accumulating capital.

Anonymous said...

iawai,

LK cannot argue without his fallacious (like the life-boat) situations. Just see how vigorously he posits science and not a functioning economy as the fount of genuine human progress when challenged on property rights. Don't expect a genuine answer to the question of how science makes progress without a functioning economy.

The good thing is that he is exposed as an economic chronicler and a shill for totalitarian mass murder.

Bala

Lord Keynes said...

Don't expect a genuine answer to the question of how science makes progress without a functioning economy.

In case you haven't noticed, ancient authoritarian states with taxes and government interventions like ancient Egypt, Babylon, and China had "functioning economies" with (for their time) significant scientific progress.

And modern social democratic states have "functioning economies" with significant scientific progress.

Even a hunter gatherer society with common property has a rudimentary "functioning economy"
and some scientific progress.

Anonymous said...

LK,

Adding to Richard's point, even the most basic organisation of society requires men to acknowledge the point that they are better off for not eating their fellow man. Having done that, if each person refuses or fails to recognise and respect the property of his fellow man, living in a society is still going to be ompossible. I would love to see you explain that away.

Bala

Lord Keynes said...

I maintain that in order to do so they had to save food, etc. in order to devote time to studying the world around them.

And you can do that with common property or a government that levies taxes or that creates buffer stocks of food.

Lord Keynes said...

Having done that, if each person refuses or fails to recognise and respect the property of his fellow man, living in a society is still going to be impossible.

Yeah, and ancient people often had common property in which they could respect each others' right to use property in turn.

And ancient states with taxes still had laws allowing "respect for property".

Lord Keynes said...

And my 6 points do not require absolute property rights.

Excellent! Then in the absence of
any argument for absolute property rights, then there are strong utilitarian arguments for basic support of human beings when they are in need through taxes.

All I am saying is that absent property rights, there cannot be a functioning economy.

Western social democracies have property rights and functioning economies - in case you didn't notice.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. And we all know how well all those societies based on plunder survived and how well the modern experiment in organoised plunder is doing. It is the sustainability of these plunder-based economies that is in question. I am sure your explanation would be interesting.

Bala

Richard said...

LK,

"Western social democracies have property rights and functioning economies - in case you didn't notice."

Yes and that is why their economies can function at all. Same goes for advanced ancient societies. Not because of government funded science projects.

Also where is the evidence that "modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success"

Lord Keynes said...

Yes and that is why their economies can function at all.

So now you are basically admitting that progressive taxes and basic welfare are compatible with property rights and functioning economies??

Not because of government funded science projects.

A total straw man. I didn't say that "government funded science projects" are the foundation of
"property rights and functioning economies". I said (1) "government funded science projects" allow a more rapid advancement of technology and (2) science can still be done without "capital accumulation". You can be a stone age hunter gatherer and still discover contingent facts about the world.

Anonymous said...

LK,

"Then in the absence of
any argument for absolute property rights, then there are strong utilitarian arguments for basic support of human beings when they are in need through taxes."

Your ability to talk rot is absolutely unlimited. My first 4 points were the argument for property rights. Since it is property rights that make civilisation possible, rational people may make a choice between respecting property rights and not doing so. Taxation being a violation of property rights, it is impossible for rational people who have chosen a civilised society over living as a savage in the jungle to support taxation.

Lord Keynes said...

Since it is property rights that make civilisation possible, rational people may make a choice between respecting property rights and not doing so.

They already do, even in a social democracy. Progressive taxation IS compatible with property rights.

Taxation being a violation of property rights, it is impossible for rational people who have chosen a civilised society over living as a savage in the jungle to support taxation.

LOL!!! Then maybe you should tell that to the majority of the voting public in every Western democracy and numerous other countries!

If "it is impossible for rational people" to support taxes, then you are saying that majority of people are "not rational"???

But actually you just expose yourself as a complete ignoramus, unable to understand that majority of people DO NOT regard progressive taxes as immoral at all.

It is you who are the minority, with the debased view that absolute property rights are more important than human lives.

Anonymous said...

LK,

"So now you are basically admitting that progressive taxes and basic welfare are compatible with property rights and functioning economies??"

How do you manage to come up with such mind blowingly stupid notions? How can you even think that taxation which is based in coercion can ever be compatible with property rights?

Bala

Lord Keynes said...

How can you even think that taxation which is based in coercion can ever be compatible with property rights?

Because it is morally justified by the rule utilitarian argument that people in need should be supported.

That is PERFECTLY compatible with a modern set of property rights that says you have legal rights to your property but the obligation to pay a part of it or your income in taxes.

You have been challenged again and again to show how absolute property rights are justified. You fail totally to do it.

Richard said...

LK,

"So now you are basically admitting that progressive taxes and basic welfare are compatible with property rights and functioning economies??"

Absolutely not. I am saying that progressive taxation and basic welfare have nothing to do with a functioning economy and are not compatible with property rights. That such economies can function at all is due to property rights. Clear?

"A total straw man. I didn't say that "government funded science projects" are the foundation of
"property rights and functioning economies". I said (1) "government funded science projects" allow a more rapid advancement of technology and (2) science can still be done without "capital accumulation". You can be a stone age hunter gatherer and still discover contingent facts about the world."

(1) @ 3:21 you said the advancement of society happened because of the advance of science, and that that advancement was primarily due to government funding. No property rights involved @3:45 you said the Soviet Union failed because it was a brutal dictatorship and had an inefficient command economy. Again, nothing to do with an absence of property rights. I was not attacking a straw man. I was attacking your notion that economies advanced thanks to scientific discovery (thanks to governments) and an 'efficient' 'non-brutal' means of command and control, not property rights.

(2) For the second time, I never said that a hunter gatherer could not advance beyond a hunter gatherer existence, and could not discover important facts about the world. I said to advance beyond that existence, and devote time to studying their world, they must acquire capital.

And for a third time, where is the evidence that "modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success"

Lord Keynes said...

I am saying that progressive taxation and basic welfare have nothing to do with a functioning economy and are not compatible with property rights.

They are not compatible with absolute property rights, based on the fairy tale of natural law/natural rights.

Taxation and basic welfare are PERFECTLY compatible with modern property rights that are a legal/social construct, and derived from rule utilitarianism or liberal contractarianism.
That you do not have *absolute* property rights does not change the fact that you have an alternative set of property rights that also requires the obligation to pay taxes for the public goods or services you consume.


@ 3:21 you said the advancement of society happened because of the advance of science

Try and get your assertions right.
My statement:

"Dead wrong. Modern science and our ability to develop technology from it is "best way man has discovered to date for the preservation and even for the lengthening of the span and quality of human life".

Are serious telling me that science is not the best way of "lengthening of the span and quality of human life"?

You say:
and that that advancement was primarily due to government funding.

I said no such thing. I said that today "A great deal of basic research in science is nothing but a collective enterprise done by government funding and often in the state sector or institutions like universities funded by the state." Do you dispute this fact?

Lord Keynes said...

And for a third time, where is the evidence that "modern government funding of science has greatly increased its speed of development and success"

You are aware that atomic power, a great deal of modern aviation, space flight, computers, the internet, and a vast number of new drugs came out the state sector?

The rate at which science has progressed in the past 60 years easily exceeds the rate in previous centuries, and certainly in the laissez faire 19th century.

Richard said...

LK,

I absolutely and unequivocally state that public spending, government funding have nothing to do with advancing the quality of life of individuals, and everything to do with private property rights. Scientific advancement does not depend at all on government funding. It can and does happen without it. Do you dispute this fact?

Every single thing you say depends on government spending can be and has been supplied by the free market, and it has done a much better job of it.

And absolute property rights do not require support by belief in natural rights. They are entirely consistent with rule utilitarianism. They are supported by other objective ethical theories. (We have been over this before)

"I said no such thing. I said that today "A great deal of basic research in science is nothing but a collective enterprise done by government funding and often in the state sector or institutions like universities funded by the state." Do you dispute this fact?"

Again, no property rights involved, right? Just cobble together a 'non-command' and 'non brutal' 'collective enterprise' devoted to science and life springs eternal.

"You are aware that atomic power,...past 60 years easily exceeds the rate in previous centuries, and certainly in the laissez faire 19th century."

Right. Post hoc ergo propter hoc - non of these advancements would ever have happened without government spending. And the fact that advancements that led to the greatest expansion of economic wealth without support by government is somehow trumped by the last 60 years. By what measure?

Lord Keynes said...

Scientific advancement does not depend at all on government funding.

I never said that it was impossible without government funding, just that (1) it is done mainly by public funding today and (2) the rate at which it has advanced has increased by government funding.

It can and does happen without it. Do you dispute this fact?

No.

Every single thing you say depends on government spending can be and has been supplied by the free market,

Pure rubbish.
It took decades of public funding to make computers small enough and inexpensive enough for use in the private sector.
The private sector DID NOT create modern computers.

And absolute property rights do not require support by belief in natural rights. They are entirely consistent with rule utilitarianism.

Really? What is your rule utilitarian case for "absolute property rights"?

Again, no property rights involved, right? Just cobble together a 'non-command' and 'non brutal' 'collective enterprise' devoted to science and life springs eternal.

Bizarre garbage.
Do you dispute that "a great deal of basic research in science is nothing but a collective enterprise done by government funding and often in the state sector or institutions like universities funded by the state"?

And the fact that advancements that led to the greatest expansion of economic wealth without support by government is somehow trumped by the last 60 years

The greatest expansion of economic wealth that has ever been seen happened in the past 60 years.

The industrial revolution was a great expansion relative what preceded it, not to what followed.

And you are totally WRONG that 19th century science developed "without support by government".

Like most libertarians your knowledge of history is quite poor.

In the late 19th century, governments WERE starting support science significantly, and a very good example of this was the rapid rise of Germany (1871 onwards) that did so through strong government support of scientific research and development.

Lord Keynes said...

A gem:

I absolutely and unequivocally state that public spending, government funding have nothing to do with advancing the quality of life of individuals

Right....
So public spending on a universal health care system which stops people from dying and cures their diseases has "nothing to do with advancing the quality of life of individuals"!!!

It is amazing how far this kind of anti-government fanaticism caries Austrians into pure nonsense.

Bala said...

LK,

The simple difference between you and me is that while I say coercion is always wrong, you are ready to accept the legitimacy of coercion if the ends are acceptable to you. In short, my approach is governed by the principle of non-initiation of force while you care two hoots for that. I am a gentle, civilised human being while you are a thug.

If at all any one of us is immoral, it is you who says that it is alright to kill one person if it will benefit another one who I feel should benefit. In contrast, I say that no man may be killed even if it is to benefit another

"Modern property rights".... hmmmm. That's an interesting phrase. There you go redefining basic concepts to confuse everyone and try to gain legitimacy in much the same way as your predecessors went about redefining inflation till no one knows the original meaning. You just can't put lipstick on this pig. "Property" and "property rights" do not evolve from society but from the nature of individuals. It is utilitarian to the extent that it advances individual and general well-being, but it still is an outcome of man's nature as a rational animal with a volitional consciousness.

Lord Keynes said...

The simple difference between you and me is that while I say coercion is always wrong, you are ready to accept the legitimacy of coercion if the ends are acceptable to you.

So you say that "coercion is always wrong"???
Always?? Is that true???

Let's put that to the test, shall we?

Say your 3 year old child/wife/brother (or indeed just a human being you just happen to see on the street) is about to walk unknowingly in front of a speeding car that will hit them and you are in a position to do something. There is no time to yell a warning. Do you:

(1) Use coercion to stop them from running by grabbing them, or

(2) Do nothing because "coercion is always wrong."

If you do what any normal, moral human being does, you do (1).

If you choose (2), you are revealed as a an utterly immoral idiot.

And don't tell me that this could never happen, as I have seen it happen more than once, and it is not an uncommon situation.

Lord Keynes said...

If at all any one of us is immoral, it is you who says that it is alright to kill one person if it will benefit another one who I feel should benefit.

Contemptible straw man argument.

I have said NOTHING about killing anyone.

That shows a lot about your ability to argue.

Lord Keynes said...

And you never answer the question:

If "it is impossible for rational people" to support taxes, then you are saying that majority of people are "not rational"??

I bet you will continue to avoid that question.

Lord Keynes said...

The simple difference between you and me is that while I say coercion is always wrong, you are ready to accept the legitimacy of coercion if the ends are acceptable to you. In short, my approach is governed by the principle of non-initiation of force while you care two hoots for that

And also this kind of stupid argument even rules out force/coercion used in self-defense!

Well done!!

The only sensible position is that UNJUSTIFIED use of force/coercion is immoral.

Rule utilitarianism shows how we justify the instances where force/coercion can be used, e.g., in preventing an accident, defending yourself, preventing necessary human suffering where taxes can provide basic protections against disease and starvation for vulnerable human beings.

Lord Keynes said...

preventing unnecessary human suffering

Bala said...

LK,

"If "it is impossible for rational people" to support taxes, then you are saying that majority of people are "not rational"??"

I am saying they are being irrational in choosing a civilised way of life and giving their support for taxes simultaneously. The reason I call it irrational is not a personal preference but the simple logical point that the two are contradictory. To support taxes is to reject civilisation and vice versa.

"I have said NOTHING about killing anyone."

ROFLMAO. What about the water that the rest of the village has to grab to survive? What is the well owner's survival is put into jeopardy to do so? Go drown in the nearest well you thug.

"The only sensible position is that UNJUSTIFIED use of force/coercion is immoral."

How crooked you are is revealed int his statement. Why do you leave a loophole like "unjustified"? Justified by what standard? I would prefer to say initiation of force is wrong.

Your attempt at taking the act of saving a person that matters to one by pushing them off the path is the most laughable straw-man. Whether an act is an act of coercion or not is to be judged rationally by the consequences of acting or not acting. In the case of taxation, the effects of the coercion are clearly harmful. No amount of lipstick can make that pig look like a supermodel.

Bala said...

LK,

"preventing unnecessary human suffering"

Who decides what is necessary and what is unnecessary? Necessary or unnecessary for whom? You thug. Go peddle your nonsense someplace else.

Lord Keynes said...

What about the water that the rest of the village has to grab to survive? What is the well owner's survival is put into jeopardy to do so?

Read what I said, idiot:

If a village of 100 people has one well which is in the possession of one man, who suddenly refuses to give water to anyone else, and there is no rain or any other water and people are dying of thirst, you believe that the dying people may not under any circumstances use force against the man (but not kill or wound him) to take what water they need just to survive?

Perhaps you have difficulty reading?

Lord Keynes said...

Already told you: by the rule utilitarianism that should also tell you that coercion is necessary and moral, if your wife/child/brother/complete stranger is about to walk in front of a speeding car, and you want to save them.

Lord Keynes said...

Correction:

Your comment:

Why do you leave a loophole like "unjustified"? Justified by what standard?

There is NO loophole.
I already told you the standard: by the rule utilitarianism that should also tell you that coercion is necessary and moral, if your wife/child/brother/complete stranger is about to walk in front of a speeding car, and you want to save them.

And incidentally: you would use coercion in such an instance, would you??

If so, your rubbish statement above ("coercion is always wrong") is exposed as false.

Lord Keynes said...

And what does this gibberish mean???:

Your attempt at taking the act of saving a person that matters to one by pushing them off the path is the most laughable straw-man.


In the case of taxation, the effects of the coercion are clearly harmful.

Rubbish.
The use of public money to cure the sick is "clearly harmful"??

Lord Keynes said...

Who decides what is necessary and what is unnecessary?

The human beings who live in any nation, by using a system of ethics derived from rule utilitarianism.

They freely vote for policies like progressive taxes and public health care in virtually very nation.

Who the **%* are you to tell the majority how to vote and organise their society?? If rule utilitarianism shows that taxes are justified to provide a basic support system for themselves and their fellow citizens???

Anonymous said...

LK you moron (the gloves are off now),

It is not just about direct harm to the well-owner but indirect harm due to depletion of HIS water source. Are you claiming that his survival cannot in any way be jeopardised when his well is drained by all the parasites?

All this still does not address the impossibility of a sustainable functioning economy without recognising absolute property rights. Npthing that you say or do can reverse the damage done by coercion to an economy.

And yes. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is harmful to Peter. You can always count on Paul's support, but that does not negate the harm to Peter.

Bala

Anonymous said...

LK you thug,

Who the f#*k is the majority to tell the minority how they may behave and what they may keep?

And no analysis can ever show that taxes confer a net benefit. So even rule utilitarianism cannot justify taxation.

Lord Keynes said...

It is not just about direct harm to the well-owner but indirect harm due to depletion of HIS water source. Are you claiming that his survival cannot in any way be jeopardised when his well is drained by all the parasites?

If:

(1) adequate water is available for all, then there is no issue of the water owner's "survival"; people would be justified in taking what they need;

(2) if water is limited, then the water owner should be given his share to survive, just as other people should have their share.

(3) If there is not enough water for all, then there are hard moral choices to be made: they should be worked out by community discussion. A good principle is that people should have it on basis of greatest need.
Some may choice to go in search of more water. Some parents may choose to let their children have preference.

But believing that no one should have ANY water at all, just because some selfish **%%h*& has an absolute right to property is the height of immorality.

Lord Keynes said...

All this still does not address the impossibility of a sustainable functioning economy without recognising absolute property rights

Modern states *already* have property rights and functioning economies, and that is perfectly compatible with progressive taxes and public goods.

Lord Keynes said...

Who the f#*k is the majority to tell the minority how they may behave and what they may keep?

Rule utilitarianism already shows these people are have debased sense of morality - like you.
They think absolute property rights come before human life.

Whatever coercion they suffer in paying progressive taxes for public goods (which they themselves use) is justified by saving of human lives.

Or if they are really so outraged by the thought of taxes curing children and the sick and giving people basic welfare, they can always vote with their feet and leave - no one is stopping them.

Lord Keynes said...

And no analysis can ever show that taxes confer a net benefit.

Really??
How so? By the kind of absolute garbage that passes for argument by Austrians?

Lord Keynes said...

And in fact probably the most moral choice a libertarian can make is to leave anyway:

(1) Taxation is coercive and immoral;
(2) Public goods (roads, bridges, highways, public libraries etc) are immoral as they are built with stolen money taken by coercion.
(3) Any use of public goods is immoral use of stolen property
(4) A moral libertarian would not use stolen property
(5) The only moral course of action for a morally consistent libertarian is to leave a country with coercive taxes and public goods that are stolen property.

So really the fact that libertarians freely choose to continue living in such a society just proves they are moral hypocrites and immoral users of public goods created by theft.

Though I really don't care at all if you stay, you might at least have the courage to live up to your moral ideas and leave, by going and living somewhere else.

Bala said...

LK you shill,

"Rule utilitarianism already shows these people are have debased sense of morality - like you."

You are the one with a debased morality that says it is OK to initiate force against other people just because someone else will get some benefit. You are a totalitarian who cares a rats arse about human life.

"They think absolute property rights come before human life. "

And you are a certified imbecile who fails to realise that absolute property rights is synonymous with the preservation and enhancement of human life and insist on presenting a false dichotomy between the two as the basis of your depraved ideas.

"Modern states *already* have property rights and functioning economies, and that is perfectly compatible with progressive taxes and public goods."

You moron! The key word there was SUSTAINABLE. Sidestepping it is not a way answering it, you nincompoop.

"But believing that no one should have ANY water at all, just because some selfish **%%h*& has an absolute right to property is the height of immorality"

Who the f$@k said no one should have any water at all? You squawking popinjay! I am saying "Let those who want to use the water from the well owned by the 1 person PAY him for the water". The truth is that you want them to be able to take the water WITHOUT paying him. And if you argue that they would be ready to pay him, then no force was required in any case. All that is needed is negotiation to fix a price.

"Really??
How so? By the kind of absolute garbage that passes for argument by Austrians?"

You economic ignoramus. Utility is a subjective concept and an ordinal number. You can NEVER compare the utility lost by the person who was robbed (in the name of tax) with the utility gained by the person who receives the robbed money when it is spent. Hence, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone at all to show a net benefit. The only thing that you can be sure of is that some Peters were robbed to pay some other Pauls.

I would like to see the garbage you have to offer against this simple (and obvious) argument.

"Or if they are really so outraged by the thought of taxes curing children and the sick and giving people basic welfare, they can always vote with their feet and leave - no one is stopping them."

You dolt! What they are outraged about is that they were robbed. You get it? Freaking ROBBED!!!

You are nothing but an ar$ehole who wants to justify legalised plunder. Go find some other site to pollute. I am sure you would get quite an audience considering that the majority is just waiting to lap up your $h1t.

Lord Keynes said...

Utility is a subjective concept and an ordinal number. You can NEVER compare the utility lost by the person who was robbed (in the name of tax

Who said anything about subjective utility?

This is about saving human lives.

Another argument of yours collapses.

Bala said...

LK you Bandit,

"This is about saving human lives."

Those who are keen to save human lives are always free to spend their own money to save them. The moment they try to rob others, they deserve to be punished for the bandits they are.

So, go put your money where your big mouth is and donate your money to private charities that help people in dire need. Take your grubby hands out of the pockets of those who do not want them in their pockets.

Bala said...

LK,

"Who said anything about subjective utility?"

I know you never said it, but then utility is a concept in economics and you never talk of economics, only of economic history. I was just pointing out a concept in economics that shows you up for the imbecile you are.

Petar said...

This is funny.
A totally irrelevant troll spending an awful amount of time expanding a pathetic pseudo - utilitarian theory that already has been proven wrong by - well, every school of thought that is not utilitarian (the majority of schools of thought obvioulsy). And doing this to people whom he knows will never EVER agree with him.

Lord Keynes, I have a suggestion for you - get a life. It is obvious that outside of the virtual world, you have none.

Anonymous said...

At least it gives some good insight into the insanity of our self-appointed rulers. "Not only are we going to beat you to death with this tire iron, it's been approved by a majority vote so we're completely morally justified in doing so and you are immoral to resist. And no, you can't see the names on the ballot."