Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2009

There Is No Freedom Without Capitalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:43 pm

This morning I said: without capitalism, there is no freedom. A couple of commenters took issue with that statement. They are wrong, and the explanation is vital.

Understanding the relationship of capitalism to freedom is fundamental to understanding why Obama’s handling of the economic crisis is such a disaster. Now that we’ve moved beyond the President firing corporate CEOs to Barney Frank seeking to set corporate salaries, we have to be crystal clear on this point.

Let me turn over the microphone to Thomas Sowell, who wrote in his book Basic Economics:

Too often a false contrast is made between the impersonal marketplace and the compassionate policies of various government programs. But both systems face the same scarcity of resources and both systems make choices within the constraints of that scarcity. The difference is that one system involves each individual making choices for himself or herself, while the other system involves a smaller number of people making choices for others.

It may be fashionable for journalists to refer to “the whim of the marketplace,” as if that were something different from the desires of people, just as it was once fashionable to refer to “production for use, rather than for profit” — as if profits could be made by producing things that people cannot use or do not want to use. The real contrast is between choices made by individuals for themselves and choices made for them by others who presume to define what these individuals “really” need.

Simply put:

Capitalism is each individual making choices for himself.

Socialism is those who claim to know best, making your choices for you.

The former is freedom. The latter is anything but.

121 Responses to “There Is No Freedom Without Capitalism”

  1. “In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. ”
    — Edward Gibbon

    Egad, Gibbon sure tried to offend those muslims, didn’t he?

    Hadlowe (54c9fb)

  2. curbed capitalism + curbed socialism = harmony + freedom

    Cisco (983921)

  3. “Yes, but if we elect the right people…”

    You’ll never get a statist to see why that’s not an answer to the lack of freedom and other problems of governmental control of the economy.

    DWPittelli (2de73b)

  4. Cisco you see any curbing of socialism going on right now?

    Mr. Pink (0ee368)

  5. What do you call it when the government controls all wages and retirement levels? What do you call it when the congress passes (today) a slavery bill that will require your children to labor at anything the government assigns them? O’Dumbo has accomplished the impossible, we are now a communist nation with a dictator (or dickeater) as head AH.

    Scrapiron (4e0dda)

  6. Given that polician’s character lasts only as long as his next election cycle, we can’t possibly elect “the right people”. Eventually, long time or short, they will become the wrong people. Look at Cunningham, the wealth and power turns every one’s head after a time. It is irresistible. So to control that, we need limited government. I’d like term limits.

    Patterico is right, you can’t have the one without the other. The longer the political class rules, the less free our markets are, the less freedome we have.

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  7. On another thread, I did read the commenter who objected to the notion that “without capitalism, there is no freedom”. That is like objecting to the notion that the world is round.

    If that person truly believes such fantasy, then it is likely that there is no evidence, history, or economic data that would convince him otherwise.

    Comparing the records of a capitalistic society to a socialistic society in terms of human poverty, suffering, and misery are likely to be meaningless to him. It is like talking modern medicine to someone who believes in Voodoo, there is a certain intellectual mismatch cannot easily be corrected.

    He is intellectually lost; nevertheless I do admire the effort being made to correct such a poor understanding of economic theory and political freedom.

    Good luck.

    Pons Asinorum (49f381)

  8. When we have seen a history of more than 100 million people murdered by states intent on curbing capitalism, arguing differently would seem to be nothing short of insane.

    SPQR (72771e)

  9. “Cisco you see any curbing of socialism going on right now?”

    That’s a tough one. Socialism is so ill defined that it’s difficult to say. If socialism be defined to mean that the government nationalizes all means of production, then obviously there is plenty of curbing of socialism going on right now. If socialism be defined in terms of European Social Democracy, then what we have is uncurbed socialism going on now.

    I would assume what Cisco is getting at is that there is a trade-off between egalitarianism inherent in the Social Democracy goals and the growth potential of capitalism with its inherent inequalities. The inequalities of capitalism, if they become too great, foment dissatisfaction among the have littles, thus creating greater freedom at the expense of lesser harmony.

    In this particular, Marx was on to something.

    Craig R. Harmon (18222d)

  10. Good Post. Dead Right. On the Nose. Nuff said.

    J. Raymond Wright (e8d0ca)

  11. @Cisco … curbed capitalism = socialism

    Richard (2486b7)

  12. By the way, I do believe that capitalism, the private exercise of barter uncoerced by government or any other influence other than two parties deciding upon the relative value of the two commodities being traded at any given time, is a constituent part of freedom and any limitation upon that freedom, any coercion upon either party to that trade, is an infringement upon freedom.

    Can there be freedom apart from capitalism? I’m not sure. Is it hypothetically possible to conceive of a society wherein every member voluntarily donates all labor and wages and property to the common wealth of all — that is to say, a consensual commune — wherein members have freedoms? Freedom of speech, say? Freedom to leave the commune? Freedom to couple and marry at will? On a national level, example has shown that communism or socialism does not work without totalitarian domination, even terrorization of the population and the restriction of all freedoms but it seems that there have been successful, small examples of communes where freedoms were not extinguished altogether.

    So at least hypothetically, I’m not sure it’s true that there is no freedom without capitalism.

    Craig R. Harmon (18222d)

  13. “curbed capitalism = socialism”

    If by curbed capitalism one includes any regulation placed upon business transactions by any government entity then capitalism is long gone, never to return. Does that mean that capitalism disappears any time a tariff is imposed, for example? Does that mean that any restriction upon interstate commerce or upon international commerce for any reason causes the collapse of capitalism and its replacement by socialism?

    I think this discussion would benefit from some more careful definition.

    Craig R. Harmon (18222d)

  14. “The difference is that one system involves each individual making choices for himself or herself, while the other system involves a smaller number of people making choices for others.”

    But don’t talk this way at work.

    imdw (de7003)

  15. On a national level, example has shown that communism or socialism does not work without totalitarian domination

    Pray tell where this has worked …

    I am going to note that I take great offense to you people discussing freedom.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  16. Funny it only works in countries that noone lives in. You never hear anyone say “Hey come to my country and enjoy my fantastic socialism.” It is always idiots that have never experienced it.

    Mr. Pink (0ee368)

  17. Yeah, right.
    Cute argument, albeit a bit brief. And too smart by half.
    Do you have any room in that tiny, itty-bitty definition of yours for any regulation of the industries that concern themselves with the choices made by the “individual making choices for himself.”?????

    You don’t like it, but the de-regulation juggernaut of the past two and a half decades led to our mess. You can talk up ACORN and Fannie and Freddie and your Aunt Bertha all you want, but the 35-to-1 leverage by banks and brokerages, busting big time through any and all previous constraints, and all manner of other ways of letting “capitalism” flourish, have done us in. Good luck to your children.
    Even Alan Greenspan finally collapsed turtle-like into his own shoulders and said he had been mistaken all along, as in mucho decades, about human self-interest. Atlas Shrank.
    But hey, Patterico, keep drawing that state of California salary and counting on your pension while you pontificate about capitalism and the greatness of individual choices……while ignoring and eliding the raw power of those who have controlled a world of finance that overtook and eclipsed government.
    Hey, did you see that in 2007 Bush brought in a Lehman managing director to run the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation? And that the guy quickly took all that gazillions of billions …this is a government backup outfit….and moved it from bonds to securities….which helped his former colleagues churn for bonuses…..and did it just as the market was tanking? Oops. Fed the maw.
    But he sure did screw a lot of “individual choices.”
    Too bad those same folks lost their bid to take the Social Security funds and hand them over to the marketers so we could all be making even more “individual choices,” though not by our own choice, and lose our paltry future funds in the market.
    Individual choices.
    Yeah, right.

    Larry Reilly (45e7a4)

  18. Who is this guy?

    Eric Blair (4d78ef)

  19. Eric, meet Mary O’Reilly. Mary, Eric.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  20. #17 You like regulations – you’ll love the Worker’s Paradise of Cuba.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  21. Because of all this de-regulation, thousands of US companies have decided not to move their operations to those highly regulated Asian countries. Sarbanes-Oxley has been such a huge boon to the small cap companies and entrepreneurs that IPO’s and private startups are at historic levels. Heathcare and pension liabilities have been so dramatically lowered that US companies both large and small are now begging the union organizers to come in and sign up all their employees before they move on to better deals. And that’s not even considering the massive tax breaks for these small cap and mom ‘n pop companies.

    allan (c29ad8)

  22. But hey, Patterico, keep drawing that state of California salary . . .

    County of Los Angeles, actually.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  23. allan, do you have any difficulty talking with that humongous amount of “tongue in cheek”?

    AD - RtR/OS (7f6512)

  24. I’ve long admired Thomas Sowell. Thank you for this post. And never mind the trolls; they’re a sign you’re effective.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  25. “And that the guy quickly took all that gazillions of billions …this is a government backup outfit….and moved it from bonds to securities….which helped his former colleagues churn for bonuses…..and did it just as the market was tanking? Oops. Fed the maw.”

    Larry – You’re late on this one. It was yesterday afternoon’s talking point on all the lefty blogs. It’s too bad they didn’t check to see whether the guy actually moved funds after he changed his target allocations before writing their fiercely independently arrived at subjects for blogging. What were the guy’s new asset allocation targets pray tell Larry? Do you even know? What is his current allocation?

    You are as big a joke as usual! Have you ever had an independent thought?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  26. Capitalism is each individual making choices for himself.

    Socialism is those who claim to know best, making your choices for you

    Capitalism is mankind’s first best attempt at a paradigm other than plunder and pillage. It is, at its best the willing exchange between two parties on mutually agreed upon terms.

    Socialism is saying, we don’t think you need or deserve what you have, there being more of us than there are of you, we will take from you what we wish.

    It is a return to the pillage and plunder paradigm

    Dan Kauffman (3c9c17)

  27. Larry Reilly, you don’t really understand any of the talking points you copied, do you?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  28. Oh, and here’s a hint Larry, don’t believe anything Krugman writes … he has a poor track record of accuracy.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. The book is called BASIC Economics – there is your first clue – making the mistake to directly equate an economic system with a system of governance, the second

    “one system involves each individual making choices for himself or herself, while the other system involves a smaller number of people making choices for others” Take a breath and think. Unbridled capitalism (i.e. no restraints) and socialism result in the same freedom outcome. In one is it is the dictate of economic power. in the other of government, in either it is potentially a dictatorship (see corporate drones taking pay cuts, working longer hours and management abuse in the ‘unregulated’ corporations as evidence)

    If you had an IQ that was slightly above room temperature you might extend your reading and reasoning to use empiricism rather than ideology as an analysis tool
    .
    Capitalism is an economic system governing capital and labor distribution. It is not a governance system of societal contract or law

    Freedom can be encapsulated in law, social convention, constitution, social contract or democratic process. There is no innate connection to capitalism. Economics and governance are separate entities and until you realize that ideology and policy are different things then you are incapable of any objectivity.

    Now back to the to the comment levels of above – one of the most intelligent so far being something about dick-eaters I believe

    What has been empirically evidenced is that most scoieties gradually decline to the governance of the lowest common denominators. Cause, if you need an introduction to effect, please let me know

    ohforgod's sake (99a8c9)

  30. The real contrast is between choices made by individuals for themselves and choices made for them by others who presume to define what these individuals “really” need.

    Oh, come on. This is laughable on its face. If you don’t like the choices your socialist government makes, vote it out and elect a government promising to change the rules. That should be all the freedom neccessary, right? There’s a “free market” for your vote (not free, but the defintion of a market is that it costs money to enter it, so no big change).That’s what we have a democracy for, and capitalism has nothing to do with it. China is not currently a socialist country. It’s just a capitalist dictatorship.

    The problem is that you – and Tom Sowell – are confused about the relationship betweeen liberty and markets. There’s not a state in this world – literally not a single one – without collusion and coercion between the government and business, but there’s plenty of them that cheat at voting.

    glasnost (4ed100)

  31. For the bigger picture – markets are just little tiny areas of decentralized but rule-limited behavior to measure preferences. That’s all, and the end of it. Your freedom is always limited in substantial ways. You can’t decide to print as much money as you want until you have enough. You can’t steal other people’s property instead of buying it, unless you have a legal way to do it. You can’t even lie – and that’s a First Amendment right!

    Your attachment to “freedom” is highly conditionalized, and you personally are probably actually even fully aware of the extent to which this is true.

    glasnost (4ed100)

  32. So, glanost’s idea is that socialism can be freedom as long as we have the freedom to vote in a different bunch of socialists… which we can’t because the government corrupts the voting process.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    Gregory of Yardale (2d455a)

  33. Gregory of Yardale – glasnost has now put the goal posts on a Merry Go Round.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  34. [...] You Put It That Way, It Seems So Simple Jump to Comments Capitalism Equals Freedom Too often a false contrast is made between the impersonal marketplace and the compassionate [...]

    When You Put It That Way, It Seems So Simple « Teh Resistance Blog (054690)

  35. ohforgod’s sake – I went back and re-read all of the comments. You are the only one that wishes to talk about dick-eaters. Project much?

    glasnost and its fellow travelers know all about cheating at the voting box.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  36. Maybe glasnost can explain to us how one can be truly free when Person A gets and education, acquires a skill set, and succeeds at life, and is rewarded by the government taking an increased percentage of Person A’s earnings so the government can give Person A’s money to Persons B, C, and D.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  37. You can’t decide to print as much money as you want until you have enough.

    You can, you just have to get people to accept it as an exchange medium. But passing off your own notes as legal tender isn’t freedom.

    You can’t steal other people’s property instead of buying it

    You NEVER have the freedom to deprive others of their rights.

    You can’t even lie – and that’s a First Amendment right!

    Show me the law against lying. Oh, right, you can’t lie under oath (which deprives others of their right to a fair trial) and you can’t slander people (which again infringes on their rights). But in general, you do have the ability to lie….heck, you do it here all the time.

    Does your brother own a straw farm?

    Steverino (b12c49)

  38. Patterico – you’re couching my (or perhaps “our”) argument wrong.

    The whole point was that you don’t get to look at socialism in the worst possible light without judging capitalism by the same standard – and (conversely?) you don’t get to look at capitalism in the best possible light without affording socialism the same courtesy.

    Furthermore, you don’t get to discount the importance of a governmental modifier, i.e. “democratic socialism”. “Democratic socialism” is socialism resulting through a democratic process – the same democratic process that we operate under now. So Sowell’s claim that capitalism “involves each individual making choices for himself or herself” while socialism “involves a smaller number of people making choices for others” is, in your words, wrong: freedom isn’t inherent to capitalism, and authoritarianism isn’t inherent to socialism.

    Besides, republicanism (a la John Adams, i.e. Modern American Government) “involves a smaller number of people making choices for others” – it’s representative government. Do you object to representative government as a limitation to your freedom?

    Leviticus (755e5f)

  39. If you don’t like the choices your socialist government makes, vote it out and elect a government promising to change the rules.

    Yeah, that has worked so well in Cuba. Oh, wait…

    Seriously, I think glasnost has had one too many baseballs to the skull.

    Steverino (b12c49)

  40. “Maybe glasnost can explain to us how one can be truly free when Person A gets and education, acquires a skill set, and succeeds at life, and is rewarded by the government taking an increased percentage of Person A’s earnings so the government can give Person A’s money to Persons B, C, and D.”

    - JD

    Maybe you can explain to us how one can’t.

    Leviticus (755e5f)

  41. [...] Patterico has a good post on why freedom and capitalism cannot exist without each other. It’s a fundamental point worth strongly considering. Possibly related posts: (automatically [...]

    Washington to set executive salaries as auto boondoggle deepens « Wellsy’s World (44368e)

  42. Show me the law against lying. Oh, right, you can’t lie under oath (which deprives others of their right to a fair trial) and you can’t slander people (which again infringes on their rights). But in general, you do have the ability to lie….heck, you do it here all the time.

    Straw man? What? You just came up with two different examples of it yourself! And “depriving other people of the right to a fair trial?” What is that “fair” word? Don’t you people hate the government deciding what is fair? Socialism! Let’s let the MARKET decide what is fair! Seriously, let’s conduct jury trials by an auction process! That’s how they do it in capitalist Russia, have you heard?

    …. oh wait. Doesn’t sound so good anymore, does it?

    I think that’s a pretty fantastic metaphor I’ve come up with there. Pardon me while I pat myself on the back.

    glasnost (4ed100)

  43. You must remember that “Capitalism” is Marx’s term for freedom. Adam Smith discussed the benefits of free markets in creating an efficient system where workers can keep the benefits of their efforts. It requires law and stable contracts. Aside from that, people who are able to make their own arrangements will be able to attain prosperity. The existence of a safety net is desirable because we will always have those who are unable to make it on their own. The risk is when those who are able to vote will vote themselves the benefits at the expense of those who create wealth. It is a balance but the present situation has created a class who do not pay taxes and who will vote themselves benefits at the expense of the workers. They vote for Obama and his allies. Soon, the level of prosperity will decline and all will share equally in the poverty that that system creates. We are halfway there now.

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
    This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

    – Robert A. Heinlein

    Mike K (2cf494)

  44. why does glasnost hate strawmen so much?

    JD (6f1fb5)

  45. I take offense at the use of the word freedom.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  46. Socialism is those who claim to know best, making your choices for you.

    I think that’s best summed up by the mentality and arrogance on full display here:

    Laura D’Andrea Tyson, member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board:

    “Critics of a cap-and-trade system are correct when they claim it will raise the prices of goods and services whose production and use emit carbon. That’s exactly the point: Higher prices are necessary to encourage energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy, to discourage carbon emissions, and to reduce the societal costs of global warming.

    Meanwhile, I got a chuckle out of this comment, posted at liberallyconservative.com:

    “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” – Ronald Reagan – September 25, 1987 (remarks in Arlington, Virginia)

    Mark (411533)

  47. “Critics of a cap-and-trade system are correct when they claim it will raise the prices of goods and services whose production and use emit carbon. That’s exactly the point: Higher prices are necessary

    Doh. That one is going to leave a mark.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  48. Some people are thoroughly convinced that only the hand of government can insure equality and success. We call these people components of a target-rich environment.

    Carlos (7f6512)

  49. Maybe glasnost can explain to us how one can be truly free when Person A gets and education, acquires a skill set, and succeeds at life, and is rewarded by the government taking an increased percentage of Person A’s earnings so the government can give Person A’s money to Persons B, C, and D.

    Sigh. How is this not a straw man? That’s called “moving into a higher tax bracket”. Are we using “straw man” as a synonym for “metaphor” these days, or what?

    Here, I came back to the computer specifically for a metaphor for you. When you’re a 15 year old kid and your dad spends the money for your first car on bailing your 18-year old brother out of jail – guess what? You worked hard, acquired a skill set, and stayed out of trouble – and your reward was still spent on a troublemaker! Are you truly free? Should you care? Are you perhaps too focused on abstract rights and not enough on pragmatic suffering, or on short-term benefit over long-term problems?

    glasnost (4ed100)

  50. Is equality of the type being discussed here a Constitutional right? Can someone point that out for me? Did I miss a big vote or something?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  51. “When you’re a 15 year old kid and your dad spends the money for your first car on bailing your 18-year old brother out of jail – guess what?”

    glasnost – Guess what. It was your dad’s money to begin with. You had no real claim to it. It’s a good parallel to taxes. Liberals think they have a claim on everybody’s money, like the 15 year old, screw the dad spending it on bailing the older brother out of trouble. He’s not allowed to do it under a progressive tax system. 100% of what you belong has a potential claim on it by the government and they will decide what you are entitled to keep.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  52. Moving to a higher tax bracket is in effect, the government unfairly stealing more of your money.

    Hazy (4e0dda)

  53. Craig R. Harmon: “…Can there be freedom apart from capitalism? I’m not sure. Is it hypothetically possible to conceive of a society wherein every member voluntarily donates all labor and wages and property to the common wealth of all — that is to say, a consensual commune — wherein members have freedoms? Freedom of speech, say? Freedom to leave the commune? Freedom to couple and marry at will? On a national level, example has shown that communism or socialism does not work without totalitarian domination, even terrorization of the population and the restriction of all freedoms but it seems that there have been successful, small examples of communes where freedoms were not extinguished altogether.

    So at least hypothetically, I’m not sure it’s true that there is no freedom without capitalism.”

    Uh, maybe some of you should take an anthropology course. There have been more economic systems in the world than just socialism or capitalism. And then when you’re done with a beginning anthro course, you can advance to an *economic* anthropology course.

    Viewer (762df1)

  54. #29 Comment by ohforgod’s sake — 3/31/2009 @ 8:12 pm

    The book is called BASIC Economics – there is your first clue – making the mistake to directly equate an economic system with a system of governance,

    Incorrect; there is no such equivalency suggested. What is understood is that there is a connection between a system of governance and its economic structure.

    Unbridled capitalism (i.e. no restraints) and socialism result in the same freedom outcome.

    False; aside from the fact that you just contradicted your first statement, your theory of the result of unbridled capitalism is unknown, as no such society has ever had such an economy.

    (see corporate drones taking pay cuts, working longer hours and management abuse in the ‘unregulated’ corporations as evidence)

    Strawman.

    Capitalism is an economic system governing capital and labor distribution. It is not a governance system of societal contract or law

    Agreed, this is not in dispute (at least with me); however, there is a connection between governmental systems and their economic compositions.

    Freedom can be encapsulated in law, social convention, constitution, social contract or democratic process. There is no innate connection to capitalism.

    Freedom can also be encapsulated in economic systems. Indeed economics extends into the lives of every citizen and family. To state that freedom can be “encapsulated in law, social convention, etc” but then ignore economics is not realistic. Only capitalism ensures that freedom can exist in a meaningful way.

    It would seem that no authoritarian government has ever had free market capitalism, so perhaps such systems are mutually exclusive.

    Economics and governance are separate entities and until you realize that ideology and policy are different things then you are incapable of any objectivity.

    Ironic.

    Pons Asinorum (4a68b3)

  55. Patterico,

    In the earlier post you objected to comparisons of President Obama to Stalin (among others).

    Do you think Hugo Chavez is a fair comparison?

    Danger (76e9ca)

  56. [...] ITEM (not a joke, sadly): Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Rep. Barney Frank (D-FM) wants to set all salaries for firms receiving gov’t bailout funds. Remember the camel’s nose in the tent? Patterico points out the close tie between freedom and capitalism. [...]

    Wednesday with the snark | And Still I Persist (13e666)

  57. Milton Friedman’s book, Capitalism and Freedom, should be required reading in all schools for years 9-10. The PBS series Free To Choose should also be required viewing.

    Jack Lacton (2070e5)

  58. I live in Singapore (US citizen), which has a government based on non-Marxist socialism. However, the country openly embraces free-market capitalism in terms of its economy due to its position as a global trade hub (the busiest container port in the world). On a social level, the government has strong control over infrastructure development, education, justice, healthcare, and most aspects of life in general. The government has a very low tolerance for entitlement mentality, crime, anyone advocating religious or political upheaval (race baiting, revolutionary thought, evangelism, etc.).

    The standard of living is one of the highest in the world, and the crime/corruption rates one of the lowest.

    Carefully controlled capitalism and socialism can work, but it requires competent, uncorrupt political leadership with forward vision. Such political leadership is the exception to the rule, rather than the norm in most countries including the US, Europe as a whole, Australia, and almost everywhere else.

    Mark Turner (5fff7c)

  59. Mark, how big is Singapore ? It is a small city state with a Chinese population that is focused on economic activity. Our point is that large messy countries, like ours and Russia’s, for example, do better with a more free economic system and that means what Marx called capitalism. My point above was that our economic system, which is based on free contracts and minimal intrusion of the state into private activity, was named by the enemy of that system. You try not to let your enemy define your terms.

    Uh, maybe some of you should take an anthropology course. There have been more economic systems in the world than just socialism or capitalism.

    Uh, yes, there were serfdom and slavery. What was your point again ?

    And then when you’re done with a beginning anthro course, you can advance to an *economic* anthropology course.

    Comment by Viewer

    By that time, based on my daughter’s experience with an honors degree in Anthropology from UCLA, you will be a confirmed Obama supporter. You will also be looking for a job with a decent salary.

    How’s it going for you ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  60. It is amazing that the US sruvived – and thrived – without an income tax for most of its first 130 years of existance (yes, the Civil War income tax is the exception).

    What the non-capitalists in the audience fail to recognize is that government has very narrow responsibilities – national defence being one of them. Nobody ever asks the question “Why is the government proposing to do X?” when a new request for spending comes up.

    Taxing a portion of my income to redistribute to those who have less is in direct conflict of MY pursuit of happiness.

    Taking my income to give to someone else who is unwilling or unable to compete in the marketplace is no different than a robber sticking a gun in my ribs and telling me to “stand and deliver”.

    Why can’t anyone see that?

    Dr. K (eca563)

  61. Straw man? What? You just came up with two different examples of it yourself! And “depriving other people of the right to a fair trial?”

    Typical glasnost: when called on his bullshit, he just tried to muddy the water.

    My point, apparaently lost on glasnost, is that you never have the freedom to deprive someone else of his rights. But glasnost tried to argue that “true” freedom allows you to abridge the rights of your fellow man. It’s a bullshit argument, and even he knows it.

    Steverino (69d941)

  62. So, do we score this post as point for the pro-socialist side (since no one’s really taken issue with the notion that socialism is totally compatible with “each individual making choices with himself or herself”, by way of a representative government)?

    Leviticus (43095b)

  63. as a point

    Leviticus (43095b)

  64. No.

    Pay attention.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  65. Then answer the damn question. Since when did saying something was so make it so?

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  66. Socialism, by it’s very nature, is state control of property. Industries are owned by government and are controlled by government. Traditional ownership without the spectre of government meddling is an illusion. Sure, people can “own” (in realit, hold) stock, and stock is issued to raise the funds needed to start and maintain a business, but individual shareholders hold a smaller stake than the government, so they effectively have no true ownership.

    Socialism also rations commodities. For example socialized medicine rations care to the people it purports to serve. Here the individual cannot make individual choices for themselves, except at grossly inflated costs, because the government says so.

    You have effectively lost control over your own body – which is ironic since the people who cry the loudest for socialized medicine want the government to leave their reproductive decisions to themselves.

    So, as I said – PAY ATTENTION.

    Unless you are so poor, you cannot afford to. But don’t worry, the government will relieve you of that burden as well.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  67. Someone asked if the equality we were discussing was a constitutional right. I don’t believe that it is, at least not in the Constitution as it currently exists. It is, rather, something that affluent societies, noticing the wide disparities in economic conditions in which various members of their society live, decide to address by attempting to raise the standard of living of those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum to what seems to most to be a necessary minimum level. Many members of affluent societies may come to think of some minimum standard of living as being a right for all people and, people being the font and source of rights, when a sufficient number of people in society come to think that way, they construct a right to a minimum standard of living and will amend the Constitution to reflect their thinking.

    Craig R. Harmon (4446dd)

  68. Dr. K. What you fail to understand is that government is proposing to tax you and redistribute a portion of your earnings to others, some of whom cannot compete in the marketplace, because a large percentage of people — after all, Obama was elected in a free and fair election — want government to do that. That is, because most Americans are socialists to some degree. They want government to do things other than provide national defense and law enforcement. They want social security. They want some level and degree of welfare. They want universalized health-care insurance. They want medicare.

    The Ron Paul crowd is a very small percentage of our society as can be seen by the fact that there is exactly one person who is even remotely close to being as governmentally minimalist as Ron Paul in Congress.

    Craig R. Harmon (4446dd)

  69. Comment by Craig R. Harmon — 4/1/2009 @ 10:26 am

    Thank You, for reminding us that more individuals within a society are lazy, than are entrepreneurial.
    I just don’t know how we could have lost sight of that vital information.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  70. What needs to be got across is that socialism is unsustainable. Socialism feeds on the wealth created by capitalism. When capitalism is choked out of existence, there will be nothing to share except poverty.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (0d7901)

  71. AD – RtR/OS #68, sorry that’s all you got out of my comment but if you got that much out of it and you think about it, I guess that’s enough. The question is, will you think about the implications of that? From your comment, I’m guessing not.

    Craig R. Harmon (ee4f39)

  72. Brother Bradley #69, then the trick is not to choke capitalism out of existence.

    Craig R. Harmon (ee4f39)

  73. “So, as I said – PAY ATTENTION.”

    - Dr. K

    No, you pay attention: MODIFIER. The modifier is everything.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  74. Comment by Craig R. Harmon — 4/1/2009 @ 10:53 am

    You don’t do sarcasm well, do you?

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  75. Also from #69, what needs to be gotten across is that pure capitalism is also unsustainable as is proven by the fact that pure capitalism exists nowhere on earth. It’s unsustainability is, I grant you, different from socialism’s unsustainability in that it is a political unsustainability: the mass of people are nowhere on earth, if given the choice, going to allow the few to control the vast majority of the wealth to the detriment of the rest. When, as is the case in America, most people are pretty well off, those people are going to insist that some provision be made for those many who are less well off than they. Thus, every first world country has some form of social safety net and welfare system: because most people, viewing the economic inequities about them, view this as an issue of injustice that their sense of fairness insists must be addressed and their power through the ballot will be the instrument through which they address that injustice.

    Craig R. Harmon (ee4f39)

  76. “You don’t do sarcasm well, do you?”

    Obviously not.

    Craig R. Harmon (ee4f39)

  77. #67:

    What you fail to understand is democracy is 4 wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

    Stealing my labor to pay for someone who is too lazy to work to support the lifestyle that they would like to live is still stealing.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  78. #72 –

    When people refuse to go along with your scheme, what will you do then? Resort to slavery?

    Dr. K (eca563)

  79. #76, yes…so…what’s your point? My point is that it is legalized stealing because, drum-roll please, we the people have spoken. This is the price of living in a constitutional, representative republic with universal suffrage: the minority submit to the will of the majority because all power is vested in the people and flows from the people to a government of, by, and for the people.

    Craig R. Harmon (ee4f39)

  80. My scheme? Obama’s not my man. His scheme is not my scheme. I’m a committed Hayekian — who, it should be noted, wrote that wealthy societies will and ought to provide minimum levels of livelihood for those who cannot provide for themselves — so I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that point. If you got the impression I was advocating this stuff, I’m afraid you got the wrong impression altogether. I was merely stating the state of reality as it exists and as it is likely to continue to exist, not as I would have it in my imaginary ideal.

    I’ve read Atlas Shrugged. Insufferable novel but her point is well taken…by me at least.

    Craig R. Harmon (534b06)

  81. Someone needs to re-read that copy (if they ever read it in the first place) of the Constitution that has been gathering dust in the corner, with particular attention to those areas which proscribe the rights of the minority.
    It is not for nothing that Franklin responded:
    “A Republic, if you can keep it!”

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  82. And, Dr. K., it does appear that, from the mere fact of you corresponding here with me, that you have, thus far, fared better than the sheep in your little parable. Makes one wonder if your parable isn’t a bit on the unrealistic side.

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  83. #80, you probably can’t. Once universal suffrage was gained, the Republic was lost. It just hasn’t been informed of its demise yet.

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  84. “When people refuse to go along with your scheme, what will you do then? Resort to slavery?”

    - Dr. K

    Ummm… NO. I’ll resort to trying to change their minds in the way people are always changing other people’s minds: I’ll resort to politics. DEMOCRATIC socialism ought to imply that I’ll use some of the fairly standard democratic means to desired ends.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  85. So stealing is fine as long as we voted for it? Using the rule of law to extort my property from me makes you no better than Robert Mugabee.

    People like you make me sick.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  86. There is nothing inherently contradictory between universal suffrage and a Republic, if those elected maintain the respect for the institution that they pledge allegiance to in their oath of office.
    The corruption of the Republic lays at the feet of the Judiciary for substituting their contemporary values for the values instituted by the founders.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  87. Also to #80, people are no longer interested in reading the Constitution as a document that protects a powerful, privileged minority there are powerless minorities like gays still struggling for what they view as their rights and there are still poor in this same country struggling every day. These are the minorities people are more and more concerning themselves with, as the vocal and demonstrative outrage expressed over the AIG bonuses illustrated. People, for the most part, think that the rich can afford to take care of themselves, however few they might be.

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  88. German Democratic Republic
    People’s Republic of China
    People’s Democratic Republic of Korea

    “democratic” has often been used as a smokescreen for anything but democratic.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  89. 83:

    If I refuse to support the unwashed masses because the unwashed masses deem that is my duty, then how will you make me produce? Force me?

    Good luck with that.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  90. Mr. Hitchcock:

    You forgot The “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  91. ““democratic” has often been used as a smokescreen for anything but democratic.”

    - John Hitchcock

    Well, there you go. Guess the idea of an actual democratic socialist government is impossible – after all, people have abused words before! The word “democratic”, nonetheless!

    Sorry. I’m getting a little cranky.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  92. The discussion here shows why Mr. Patterico’s “A Time for Choosing” post is so misguided. Our enemies are willing to destroy our lives and confiscate our property by any means necessary.

    To the barricades!

    Dr. K (eca563)

  93. “There is nothing inherently contradictory between universal suffrage and a Republic, if those elected maintain the respect for the institution that they pledge allegiance to in their oath of office.”

    I disagree. It is the people that must respect the institutions into which they elect their officials and the officials must maintain the respect of those who elected them. I’m afraid neither of these are likely any longer. People, post Nixon, perhaps post JFK, simply no longer respect the institutions of government or, in large part, those they elect to govern them, except to the extent that the electorate perceive their governing officials to be serving their (that is, the electorate’s) will.

    And that’s my point. All that matters any longer to most Americans, in my opinion, is getting what they want from government. Thus, as long as the Republic is acting like a Democracy, people are happy. When it’s not, they’re pissed and try their darndest to replace their governing officials with those who will govern as though this were a Democracy.

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  94. #86….shakes head in disgust.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  95. #88, where do you suppose you’re going to go that you will not be taxed or where some of your taxes will not be used to support the poor? To Galt’s Gulch? You are aware, aren’t you, that Atlas Shrugged is just a novel? Not a very good novel at that. It was imagination. This is reality, my good Dr. To what utopia do you plan to flee?

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  96. “Our enemies are willing to destroy our lives and confiscate our property by any means necessary.”

    This is mindlessly absurd. I am not your enemy. No one in this country is your enemy. They are not out to destroy your life and they are not using any but the Constitutional institutions of government to do what they are doing. Geez, Dr., exaggerate much?

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  97. Comrade Harmon:

    I will work on an all-cash basis to support my modest needs. Pay all bills with cash. You can’t tax what you can’t track.

    You are most definately my mortal enemy. I do not propose that you work for my benefit, but you demand that I work for yours.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  98. No one in this country is your enemy. Craig, what is your proof to that outlandish statement? And did you make that outlandish statement on 20010831?

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  99. Comment by Dr. K — 4/1/2009 @ 12:39 pm

    “Comrade Harmon”! Hah! I like that.

    Our Tovarich needs to escape his coddled sinecure, and experience the authoritarianism and poverty of the real world beyond the shores of El Norte and Old Europe.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  100. For those individualists who refuse to support the great unwashed, think of it this way: every taxpayer has taxes “confiscated” and used for purposes for which he or she would rather those taxes not be used. A sense of social contract, however, causes them to recognize that their particular desires are not the sole concerns of government, that elected officials must hew to the will of the majority of their electorate or be voted out of office and so the use of some portion of their taxes for uses of which they would rather their money not be used is just the cost of living in a society. In other words, people accept that membership of a society entails some costs that they will find distasteful.

    Craig R. Harmon (ab77a4)

  101. people are no longer interested in reading the Constitution as a document that protects a powerful, privileged minority there are powerless minorities like gays still struggling for what they view as their rights and there are still poor in this same country struggling every day.

    Hoo-ha like this generally does not result in very good responses.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  102. Craig – What happens when that cost goes beyond being merely distasteful?

    JD (6f1fb5)

  103. To those implying that I’m a communist, please re-read #79. Don’t blame me for reality.

    #100 “What happens when that cost goes beyond being merely distasteful?”

    Answer: Margaret Thatcher gets elected.

    Craig R. Harmon (d8e098)

  104. A sense of social contract, however, causes them to recognize that their particular desires are not the sole concerns of government, that elected officials must hew to the will of the majority of their electorate or be voted out of office and so the use of some portion of their taxes for uses of which they would rather their money not be used is just the cost of living in a society. In other words, people accept that membership of a society entails some costs that they will find distasteful.

    And I bet you willingly paid your taxes no matter how distasteful to support the Iraq war?

    Wait a sec. – you obviously never worked an honest day in your life, so you had no taxes to pay.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  105. 101:

    No matter how you slice it, it still comes down to:

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

    What you are arguing is a distinction without a difference – sort of like vanilla vs. French vanilla.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  106. “…wrote that wealthy societies will and ought to provide minimum levels of livelihood for those who cannot provide for themselves.”

    Of course the rub is discerning who cannot and who will not provide for themselves. The devil is certainly in the details.

    Dana (137151)

  107. But you see that Comrade Harmon believes that by default people cannot provide for themselves without the government telling them what to do.

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  108. Dr. K, “you obviously never worked an honest day in your life, so you had no taxes to pay.”

    Actually, as a pastor, I was taxed twice as being self-employed. And my support of the Iraq war was not distasteful at all. While I think Bush mishandled the war plenty, I supported the Iraq war as I supported the Afghanistan war.

    Again, re-read #79. I’m describing, not prescribing here.

    Craig R. Harmon (d8e098)

  109. #104, yes, of course, that is the rub. Most people, though, are not willing to forgo a social safetynet just because there are free-loaders who will game the system.

    Craig R. Harmon (d8e098)

  110. #103, if you are suggesting that Hayek was a communist, you know nothing about Hayek or his thought or writings. Does The Road to Serfdom mean anything to you? You keep suggesting that I am a communist. That is your right in a free country but it’s absurd. Again, I am not prescribing any of this. I am describing reality as it exists, not how I wish it to be or become. If you are incapable of distinguishing the two, you need to seek professional psychiatric help and strong medication.

    Otherwise, you’re just a troll and I shall henceforth ignore you.

    Either way, toodles!

    Craig R. Harmon (d8e098)

  111. Comrade Harmon, pastorsites are among the worst offenders. A social safety net implies that people are too damn lazy to make an effort for themselves while they expect and demand that society carry their sorry asses and show no gratitude for the sacrifices of productive people to support their leeching off society.

    But then again, I have heard it told that gratitude is the disease of dogs.

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  112. Your reality is your dream come true.

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  113. Another campaign promise being jettisoned:
    The Senate is debating a National Sales Tax on Electricity!
    I guess only people who make over $250K have lights, so it’s OK.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  114. AD – A national sales tax on electricity ?!

    JD (6f1fb5)

  115. “The Senate is debating a National Sales Tax on Electricity! I guess only people who make over $250K have lights, so it’s OK.”

    - AD – RtR/OS

    That would be a good point, if the Senate had just been elected President of the United States by promising not to raise taxes on people making more that $250,000 a year.

    Leviticus (a7ed36)

  116. Comment by JD — 4/1/2009 @ 3:15 pm
    Sorry, had to go do some work (I shudder just typing that word).
    Yes, HH was interviewing Sen.Alexander from TN and he mentioned it as part of the President’s Energy Bill (as if he wouldn’t sign it if it hits his desk, but of course only after it’s been posted on the WH website for the promised five days).
    L, you’re being just slightly disingenuous – but it’s not the first time.

    AD - RtR/OS (5021d1)

  117. Freedom is the glue of capitalism, that amoral wisdom of the markets that most efficiently allots goods and services to a citizenry.
    -Victor Davis Hanson “Carnage and Culture”
    http://tinyurl.com/cx8jag

    Lawrence Celic (05968f)

  118. #29 and #30. Yes. Thank you.

    JD #36 Yep. But you are talking about details. Taxes suck but they did get the interstate highway system built and other nice goodies. Also people can always change the details. For instance any group of politicians could write federal laws prohibiting any level of government from seizing a person’s home because of the non-payment of taxes. I think that would greatly increase freedom in this country. But nobody has done that have they? Not even the Gipper.

    #103 Haw! Excellent response.

    Dr.K, Yes! taxes = LAZYREDPINKOCOMMUNISM!!!!
    To the “Bat Cave!”

    EdWood (e7e39a)

  119. Most of our tax-em-to-death advocates make the case for higher taxes based on “helping the poor”, but that is far from the truth. Most of the money goes into paying off cronies, and the government deciding which companies succeed and which fail.

    How much of the recent stimulus was “earmarks” that are directed to specific people/companies?

    If you can assure me that this transfer of wealth is eliminated, then we can talk about how to limit the reach of government by building new bureaucracies that only serve to create more government jobs.

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  120. The Great Dictator, part (C)…

    If you want a picture of the future, imagine an iron fist clutching a smiley face — forever. The first two posts of this miniseries were: The Great Dictator The Great Dictator, part Deux We ended the last segment with……

    Big Lizards (5ca406)

  121. The book is called BASIC Economics – there is your first clue – making the mistake to directly equate an economic system with a system of governance, the second

    On what grounds do you make this distinction?

    Individual rights do not cease to exist when a dollar is involved; there are no grounds to declare freedom null and void when an action is deemed “economic”.

    This false distinction between economic and political freedom finds its origins with the 19th century Marxists. They originated the term “capitalism”, and applied it to what was up to then described simply as “the system of natural liberty”.

    Their goal was to introduce a false dichotomy between economic and political liberty, so that they could attack and destroy the first while posing as friends of the second.
    They were successful.

    You might as well attack someone’s right arm while posing as a friend of the rest of the person.

    Freedom is freedom. It is not contingent upon whether a particular action or choice is deemed “economic”.

    Therefore, capitalism and freedom are not merely inseparable, or corollaries — they are one and the same: the system of liberty.

    Seerak (c97c68)


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