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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Quote of the Day

From Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek:
Deirdre McCloskey is right and correct to point out that one of the biggest steps we humans ever took toward being truly civilized was when a sufficient number of us began to regard bourgeois pursuits as virtuous.
Perhaps our next big step forward toward being even more civilized – a step that has yet to be taken by a minimally sufficient number of people – will be when we come to regard those who lust to hold political power as being ethically indistinguishable from pickpockets, shoplifters, and card sharks.
That's been one of the themes here at this blog.  Governments, warlords, and marauding bandits have a lot in common and the difference between shepherds and wolves is fairly minor as far as the sheep are concerned.

241 comments:

1 – 200 of 241   Newer›   Newest»
Peter said...

So I take it you think Lincoln and Jefferson were ethically indistinguishable from pickpockets? Churchill too?

erp said...

There are always exceptions to the rule. That's what keeps us sheep hopeful.

Peter said...

Are the exceptions all historical ones we can romanticize nostalgically or are there any modern ones?

erp said...

I'd put Reagan and W in that category too. They stepped up and did what they thought best, were not on the take, were not egomaniacs or narcissists ...

I know you guys, like my husband, think Bush should have fought back more against the relentless personal attacks and lies, but I think that would have been worse for us. Politics being the art of the possible, he probably was the most decent man ever in the presidency.

Clovis e Adri said...

The conservatives of the past, much due to Christian influence, used to have a very skeptical view of human nature. They took for granted that we are broken and no one is much different from pickpockets.

I very much agree with a previous comment by Peter, that Libertarians of today share a strand of naivete with old socialism. It assumes a very simplistic and far from real picture of human nature.

Annoying Old Guy said...

As a (mostly) liberatarian, I disagree. I think the libertarian view comes out of a very skeptical view of human nature. After all, if "we are broken and no one is much different from pickpockets" then it's a tautology that so are politicians. I think it's many modern conservatives who have the naive view, in thinking you can have a State that enforces detailed moral behavior without it growing in to an abusive, totalitarian leviathan.

The tranzis, on the other hand, have (IMHO) a near delusional view of human nature and its perfectibility.

Bret said...

Peter,

You left off the first part of the sentence: "those who lust to hold political power..."

Peter said...

Bret:

Few lusted to hold political power as much as Lincoln and Churchill did.

Annoying Old Guy said...

While I am not endorsing Peter's full statement, I think the gist of it is correct, particularly with regard to Churchill.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG: the state is the devil you know. The lack of it (which is the bottom line of all the libertarian talk) is a box of pandora of evils known and unknown.

Bret said...

Clovis,

The lack of state is anarchism, not libertarianism. At the founding, at the federal level, the U.S. was not that far from a libertarian ideal.

I think most libertarians are more concerned with direction than endpoint. I don't think anybody here is calling for an overnight complete rework of the government. Instead we'd like to move incrementally towards a smaller, less intrusive federal government. The known evils of that are what?

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "Few lusted to hold political power as much as Lincoln and Churchill did."

Personally, I don't find that that lust was one of their more admirable traits. Do you?

Even a pickpocket can end up being a hero in certain situations. That doesn't make their profession admirable.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"The lack of it (which is the bottom line of all the libertarian talk) is a box of pandora of evils known and unknown."

I will echo Bret's point about libertarianism (or as I call it, "minarchism") vs. anarchism (lack of state), and note that I think history gives us quite a good catalog of those evils.

My view is that we will have those evils, but it takes a government to turn a serious problem in to a real disaster. Why people think that's a good thing is outside my comprehension.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Call me a cynical, but IMHO it only takes the next president to be a Republican for you and most other self proclaimed libertarians to forget how they used to hate a powerful state. A simple proof: where were you a few years ago, before Obama?


Bret: If we take seriously what libertarians propose, the end result would be no state at all, for lack of funds among any other possible reasons. So you may not want anarchy, but anarchy is what we would get.


Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...for lack of funds..."

Why would there be a lack of funds?

I don't think I ever advocated for elimination of all taxes.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "A simple proof: where were you a few years ago, before Obama?"

I've been blogging for 10 years and the blog is searchable. I don't think you'll find any posts advocating for a powerful state, especially and particularly as far as controlling its own citizens and engaging in large domestic spending programs.

The exception is that I did support the Iraq war to some extent. But I haven't criticized Obama's military adventures either, so I'm not inconsistent even there.

Bret said...

BTW, I'm off on vacation with no Internet (or phone or TV) for the next 5 days.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I've been doing political writing on the internet on a weblog even longer than Bret, feel free to search those archives as well.

I've actually gone the other way - I was a straight up anarchist in my youth, but came to accept the necessary evil of a minimal state as the least worst option.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

I was mainly making reference to the growing Libertarian mood we see in the web nowadays, not to you in particular.

I can not read right now all your blog's previous data, but your remark made me take a look in the oldest ones. I can tell you that your Iraq analysis was pretty Keynesian, but you could take it as an offense :-)

BTW, what are the taxes that you would allow to remain in a Libertarian future?

Clovis e Adri said...

AONG,

With all my respect, I must tell you that you were naive when young, and now you are an Annoying Old Naive Guy (please take no offense in the "annoying" part, I am just using your own alias).

Go to any culture, take your choice of place and age, and you'll see that human intreraction always evolves to elect some kind of leader. It may be the elder in an ancient tribe or the Stalin of our days, but you will find a leadership.

This is the reason I've called this thread too simplistic over human nature. The ambition for political power is hard wired in our brains.

So it is to thrive for freedom, to topple the leader, to cut out and run from the opression to conform to the tribe.

Somewhere in between these extremes we've got the modern state. It is true that an absolutely free market is not part of it, since even the money you use for the market to even exist, is attached to human boundaries and behavior, hence to our States.

Point to me how you can conceive a functional modern society based only in your Libertarian principles, and I bet you will collide with our human condition again and again. And you hear it from someone who usually abhors phrases with "human condition" on it.

erp said...

Clovis: Read our founding documents. Those annoying old guys outlined exactly what the function of the government should be.

I second the motion for our aog as the next president.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"you will collide with our human condition again and again"

Of course. The story of civilization is the collision between what we want and objective reality.

But as I have said so many times, I consider the "cure" for that worse than the disease. The basis of your view here is to compare libertarian government with utopia. Naturally it comes off worse. But I compare libertarian government with the actual existing and historical alternatives, with which it compares very favorably.

If you want a real world example, perhaps this weblog, the world wide web, and the Internet itself is a prime example of exactly how a libertarian governance would work, and that is spectacularly well. It's far bigger than NASA yet works basically without government regulation. Tell me which you would rather use - the libertarian web or Minitel?

After the founding documents of our nation, I would check out Thomas Sowell's "The Vision of the Annointed" for a longer treatment of my view on this.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Your comment seconds one made by Bret along the same lines.

It is hard to get you guys. You are proud to be under the same constitution for 200 plus years, and yet you long for going back to times when... you were under the constitution as now. Am I the only one at lost here?

erp said...

The federal government has usurped and over-stepped its authority and We, the People who've had our heads softened with 50 years of relentless leftwing propaganda in the public schools and media have allowed it to happen.

In your spare time, read Cicero too, and find out how Rome fell when the Roman elites pandered to the basest instincts of the masses in order to stay in power.

It didn't take long, even a shorter time in today's world for the barbarians to take over.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I think your example - the Web - pretty much represents what I am trying to say.

Bits do not have to eat, drink or breath. They don't die. They don't love. They do not kill or need to be taught how to share their space with other bits. They do not get rich or poor. They know no hunger.

So, yes, it is quite easy to be a virtual Libertarian. What about the real world out there?


Erp:

I still don't get it. Last time I made pressure for examples, I've got a lot of petty regulations that, overall, had the potential to limit freedom. But no one here complained yet that the potential has materialized. And all these laws are operating under the same Constitution you so much admire. I still do not get if anyone here is talking about a radical new Libertarian world, or just a few dollars less of taxes do would prefer not to pay. The difference between revolution and dullness is just so blurred here.

erp said...

Clovis, how do you see the ideal world? A neat place filled with neat people living in neat cities conjured up on drafting tables with equality the primary good? Talk about dull.

In fact, your home town, Brasilia, is made out of whole cloth. It didn't grow organically and that's why we hardly ever hear anything about what's going there. I'll bet it's a place people go to work and then return to the real world.

The large issue is that our freedoms are being eroded and if we don't stop it soon, it will be too late. What you think you know about us from reading the media and attending school is basically wrong.

No sense repeating them because you think this or that will prove us mistaken or misinformed. We not only speak different languages, we are coming from entirely different places.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

It is funny to see you defining me for the city I live in today. I've lost count of the cities I've lived before, and I am not even that old. Maybe I have experienced more diversity out there than you, dear Erp.

Now, your question is a difficult one. I've never really stopped to think what would be the ideal world. It is always easier to point out what you do not like about what you see out there, than to imagine what should things be.

I believe, though, that we - humanity - are in a march to a different world than the one you grew up. Technology is quickly undermining many professions, and in a rate that human ingenuity is unable to replace. Otherwise saying, many people are, or will be, out of work not for lack of morals, or of wanting, but simply because there will be no work for everybody. Think about over efficiency of our production methods. Bret may give us some thoughts about that, since he is part of this technological drive.

If the picture above is true, it leads to the next question: how people will get to eat in a world where their hands and brains are no longer needed? (yes, brains too - the professions being killed by technology lately are also high skilled ones)

So, to anwer your question Erp, I do not see the ideal world as a place where equality is the objective. But I do think that a world where the most basic needs - food and shelter - are satisfied even if you do not have a job would be a necessity if jobs become as scarce as it looks they may be.

Does this view makes me a sinful socialist? If yes, please give me your views, I would be happy to change mine for a better informed one.

Peter said...

I don't have as much confidence as Clovis seems to in my ability to predict what it all means, but I certainly agree with him that high tech is changing things profoundly in ways we are just beginning to glimpse hazily. Apart from sharing a too quick attraction to ideological simplicities, many on both the left and right are still waging the great ideological battles of the mid-19th century. Not only was that a low(er)-tech, much more autarchic world, it was 3% urban. We're 50% urban today and much more interdependant (something the GOP seems to be slow to understand). That's not an ideological premise, it's a simple, bloody fact.

In your spare time, read Cicero too, and find out how Rome fell when the Roman elites pandered to the basest instincts of the masses in order to stay in power.

Now that's interesting, erp. Leaving aside the fact that Cicero lived five hundred years before the fall of Rome, how did they pander to them, and what should they have done? Mow them all down? Banish them? Give them low-interest loans so they could all start small businesses? Invest in public education, libraries and recreational facilities? Do you believe that if one just ignores hungry, rampaging mobs, they will just go away?

erp said...

Peter, it won't take 500 years this time.

Everyone seems to be living in a time warp. I don't know what the future will bring, but it won't be pretty unless we get the elites out of the way and let people get on with it.

The jobs of the future won't be picking cotton or working on an assembly line. What they will be is as unknowable as someone only a few short years ago who didn't know he/she would have a device in his/her pocket smaller than a deck of cards that can do unimagined marvels and feats of legerdemain.

One thing is certain, if we don't let people be free to think and dream and get rid of those with vested interests in keeping us in custodial care, we will have a divided society where some very few of us live in aeries in the mountains and the rest of us live in sheep folds being feed enough to keep us barely alive and very docile and barren. New humanoids will be created in labs as needed and pretty soon homo-sapiens will be extinct and homo-narcissisiens will reign supreme.

I don’t think this is what Peter has in mind, but what would be the alternative if we continue on the path of providing the unemployed and unemployable masses with the equivalent of bread of circuses. Has anyone seen what’s being offered on TV now, nevermind the movies! I spent a lot of time hanging around places where TV’s are blasting and the programming shown in public places stuns me.

A new kind of society is out there just waiting to be unleashed. Let’s get out of its way.

Clovis: I don’t understand why you think my comment about Brasilia was directed at you personally even if you were born and bred there any never lived anywhere else? It wasn’t, it was directed at planned communities. They can’t work because they try to apply somebody’s idea of “city planning” into human beings who are basically very different from each other with lots and lots of individual quirks. That concept was very popular, especially here in Florida where there is lots of undeveloped land. The planners set out a cityscape of various types of housing, set up rules for landscaping and planned shopping and “cultural” centers with walkways and bicycle paths. Life just isn’t like that and it doesn’t work.

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

Curse of the duplicate comment strikes again. :-(

erp said...

A comment on Instapundit below by Dark Chicago about how smart cookies game the system and why shouldn't they?

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/173910/comment-page-1/#comment-218019

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"your example the Web - pretty much represents what I am trying to say. [...] Bits do not have to eat, drink or breath [...] What about the real world out there?"

Your view is that any activity that involves non-living material is not the real world? All manufacturing, for instance, is just virtual? If not, what makes the Web not the real world in comparison? That it has had no impact on the "real" world?

P.S. And now I have to go on vacation, quite likely off the grid. Sigh.

Harry Eagar said...

Well {headdesk}

I didn't expect to see praise for bourgeoisism in an anti-government blog.

Annoying Old Guy said...

That's because you have no comprehension of what we actually believe and an impressive dedication to avoid doing so.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I've followed your link, but I did not get what it has to do with our discussion above. The point would be that Central Asia engineers are taking away too many faculty positions in America?


About Brasilia and other planned cities, I completely agree with you - they are not that nice! I mean, they deal better with a few things (less traffic jams, for example), but they are inhuman in many other ways. That said, I still enjoy a lot living in Brasilia. People are creative enough to bypass the restrictions of "the planers" and still make the city their own place.

About the future, Erp, I agree that to focus too much on that can be counter productive to our problems of now. But you've asked about ideals, and that leads to thinking about the future.

My general guide is that we should always diminish suffering when that is feasible. A future where robots do most things and food is almost cheaper than air would be a place where the idea of not allowing a hungry mass would be easy to achieve. You and other here are worry more about freedom - you probably attach suffering more to the lack of freedom than to the lack of food. Well, we may both have a point. I also prefer to starve in freedom instead of being a well fed slave. Only that I am more optimistic that our future will be brighter than to choose between such two bad options.

Peter said...

I just Googled bourgeoisism. No hits. It rolls off the tongue nicely, Harry, but what do the comrades mean by it?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

My short answer is that, if you want to devise rules for how people should assemble their government, you better deal with your basic unit: humans.

The internet is wonderful, but it is in a realm that captures few of the problems we have in non-virtual life.

BTW, it is not even the free market you think it is. For example, if you try to sell children or slaves, you will soon see that it also has a few limits. Also, the money you use on it is the money of the real world, attached to many things that limit the ideal free market you have in mind.

Difference of opinions apart, I wish you good holidays. I am also on vacation, but I usually find time for blogging while my son is napping.



erp said...

Oh Peter, you know very well what it means ... yucky middle class values.

Clovis, My point about the article is that even those coming here for the first time learn quickly how to game the system, i.e., do the unexpected like accept a lower salary in order to qualify for welfare benefits for themselves and their families.

I have no problem with Asians or whomever coming here to work, but as you can see the programs put into place to help the needy may not in fact be doing what they were intended to do.

You know saying about good intentions ...

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Sorry but I really could not see in that link how it implies that these workers are using welfare.

I understood they accept the lower salaries to live here and have the opportunity to bring their families.

Am I missing something or are you seeing more than it says?

Harry Eagar said...

It's a nonce word, Peter. You could look up the root of bourgeois. Or perhaps a little reading in what the original bourgeoisie wanted.

(Hint: NOT less government, and most especially not less regulation of business)

Clovis, count on erp for coded xenophobic tropes.

erp said...

Clovis: I was using the iPad before and may have gotten the link wrong. This winter, I plan to really blitzkrieg the iPad and learn how to use it correctly.

Dark Chicago

Meanwhile, one IT/Tech/Programming dept after another is almost wholly staffed by central Asians. For $14 a year they graduate from a 10,000 student per classroom C. Asian diploma mill and get jobs here for less than the indigenous population. Why take less? Because the salary discount is worth the dole they'll get for the family they quickly import.

I call it the Zuckerberg Corp Welfare Policy. Corporations make due with sub-par robotic Tech departments at a great comp discount and the tax paying citizen pays the spread.


I don't know if this actually is happening, but it's perfectly legal if it is. Taxpayers are constantly taking it in neck subsidizing all kinds of do-gooder schemes.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I have no idea if this is true either. I can assure you that it is very unlikely to be happening in Physics departments of US good universities, which are the ones I know something about.

It is interesting to see, though, that it is an example of free market in operation, no?

erp said...

Yes Clovis, I believe I already said that. It's the system I object to, not some smart cookie figuring out how to game it.

It's interesting that you immediately think of academic departments when the comment talked about IT/Tech Programming departments. It's a serious problem with academics. They think they live in the real world. :-[

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"For example, if you try to sell children or slaves, you will soon see that it also has a few limits."

If you can write that, then you have no idea what "free market" means. It's not "anything goes" - that kind of regime is called "anarchy". A free market is one where consenting adults make their own contracts with other consenting adults.

I'm still waiting to hear on what basis you claim "The internet is wonderful, but it is in a realm that captures few of the problems we have in non-virtual life" other than unsubstantiated assertion. That claim is completely contrary to my decades of experience being heavily involved in it.

erp said...

aog, I also meant to comment on the line about selling your children.

Selling children and slavery are illegal whether online or from a store front. We're all bound by the laws we have allowed our legislatures to enact both in the vitual and real world.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

Sorry, it was indeed a cognitive mismatch - I've read the word "department" and assumed it was related to universities (well, it is where I am immersed the whole day after all). You are right, they re talking about companies.


AOG: I've used the example of selling children on purpose. It should make you think why I assume that the ideal Libertarian world would make this possible. It is consistent with what I've stated before: you would end up in anarchy, for this weak minimal state you wish for would decay real fast.

It is not sufficient to establish a set of rules for government and people. They need to endure too. I make an analogy with differential equations in mathmatics: you may have solutions that exist but are not stable. They may influence the system but never materialize for much time. I view Libertarianism as an unstable possible solution for human relationships.

Erp: what makes you think that in a world where the Free Market reigns alone and supreme, it would not change rules as needed to maximize profit? What would be the counter balance to not allow that?

An absolutely free market where a government would have no say in (i) moneraty policy (e.g. it would have no control over money) and (ii) no control over taxation and market power relationships (e.g. monopoly, etc) would soon be a useless government. The most powerful emerging capitalists would rule us all as they see fit, for they would be the state itself.

We have seen it before, folks. Google feudalism.


AOG: on your last question, I give you one simple example. A few months ago Amazon (I own a kindle) sends me an email declaring that they detected I did not look like to be American. Still, I was buying e-books with my Amazon account in US, in violation of copyright laws! They required me to show either an American passport or a bill proving I lived in US, or risk being sent to Guantanamo.

I owned that Amazon account since Amazon came to existence and for sure they knew I was no American, they were the ones happy in selling me and shipping anything to Brazil.

But suddenly they opened up an Brazilian Amazon virtual branch, with triple the prices for the same books, and just for coincidence I've got that threatening email.

Now how much of a free market this was, dear AOG?

I am telling you, the internet is not the Free Market you state it is.

erp said...

Clovis, it's free people who reign supreme and control their world, not the other way around and it worked for a couple of hundred years right here until we allowed the elites, not the people, to take over by promising free lunches for all appealing to the basest instincts. When the "no work, no eat" principle stopped being applied to the able bodied, we get a society like the one where we're we're heading where as I've already said, there are the masters and the sheep.

I personally don't want to be either one.

Freedom does not mean license.

erp said...

Clovis: copyright laws are different in different countries. They are to protect intellectual property from bring stolen. Amazon has different rules for the various countries where they do business. When I want something from the UK, I frequently request that a friend buy it for me and send it on and vice versa, although I do have a separate account with amazon.uk for sending things to my French granddaughter.

I can't believe Amazon threatened to take you to Guantanamo, but with Obama et al.'s new crony capitalism, I am about ready to believe they'll do anything to keep the money flowing into their hot little hands. In any case, amazon is within their rights to set whatever restrictions they want on their services.

An enterprising entrepreneur should make a deal to purchase from amazon for customers. Such is the way of a free people, not onerous legislation.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

You assert a minarchal state would decay into anarchy or feudalism. I say it wouldn't. Why is your opinion better than mine?
I could point to specific historical examples (e.g., USA, 1800s) but since you don't seem to see a need to do it for you claims,
why should I?

My view is that feudalism is precisely what our current elites are attempting to implement, where a priviledged elite decide how everyone else should live.

As for Amazon in Brazil, did you not notice in your own description that it all changed once the company had a presence in Brazil? Having had close friends who spentseveral years in Brazil and their stories of import restrictions, I would bet that all of the bad effects you noticed were due to Amazon now having to obey Brazilian law. Therefore I would say almost none of it was free market and an excellent example of my point. It is telling that if anything goes wrong, you immediately blame the free market and not the government. Why? You should consider if your view is result of this bias, and not actual evidence. Besides, since it's a free market, you can choose to not buy from Amazon, right? If the terms are no longer in your favor, you can not buy stuff from them, and you are no worse off than if Amazon didn't exist. This is completely different from government which you cannot ignore. Why do you prefer to not have a choice?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp & AOG:

Of course the Guantanamo thing was poetic license by my part. But the fact that Amazon asked to see my passport - which should give pause to people who claim to be Libertarians - is absolutely true and I can prove it.

I repeat: Amazon, not the US govt., not the Brazilian govt., not any Police backed by any State, just a company with a CEO by the funny name of Bezos, thinks to be entitled to ask for passports. I did say monopolist capitalists would morph in the State itself, didn't I? It looks to me an opinion supported by facts, AOG.

BTW I did use my freedom, I no longer have Amazon accounts in any country. It is not much of a freedom as I'll explain below.

This Amazon example is rich enough to show that reality is more complicated than "heavy state X free market". Our freedoms can be trumped by a heavy state and a free-market-turned-into-despotic-one at the same time.

So let me explain to you the book market in Brazil: it is dominated by only three companies, it is a cartel (I will call them Al-Capones in what follows). Books have always been way more expensive in Brazil due to that, and this is one of the few cases where you can not blame the State, AOG: there are no taxes to import books in Brazil, it is our only market free of import restrictions. And the taxes books-related business pay are lower than the average too.

With the success of kindle and the e-book market, our smart Al-Capones got a nice idea: let's introduce a cheap e-book reader before we lose all our clients to Amazon. Then we can continue charging absurd prices for our books. And they did. Amazon realized it had the potential to limit their growth with the Brazilians (and portuguese readers in general). Why? Because Amazon still needs to negotiate with the Capones to launch any Brazilian written book, since they have the copyrights.

So the deal they made IMO was: "yes, Amazon, we license Brazilian e-books to you, but you will need to practice the price levels we do, or it would be a pity what could happen to your nice business here, see? And those price levels need to apply to *all* your e-books, even the written in English or whatever other laanguage/e-book you have. And it is not even a bad deal for you, you'll get paid more, like us all!"

So, back when I bought my Kindle, it was perfectly fine to be in Brazil: my configuration was set to Brazilian on it, and Amazon was selling me any e-book just like they sell to you, Erp. I was legally buying it. But after a deal - where I repeat, involved no Brazilian law or state, only Brazilian and US enterpreneurs - they decided from one day to the other that I could only buy at the Brazilian atore, at triple the price.

You can see how copyright laws were not involved in the fact that my American neighbor, who lives in Brazil all his life, was not threatend by Amazon of copyright infringiment for buying in the US store. You see, there are no copyright laws that apply differently for two persons in the same country, based on their passports. Or, well, maybe in Germany in the 40's there was.

Sorry for the long post guys.

erp said...

A private entrepreneur, not a governmental agency, was asking you for proof you are either an American citizen living in Brazil or Brazilian residing in the U.S. in order to qualify for their U.S. services and possibly to comply with Brazilian licensing laws, etc.

This has nothing to do with government although we are moving toward it with crony capitalism, i.e., the government confiscating tax payer funds and giving it to their cronies who in turn return large portions of it the politicians for their campaign chests or "retirement" funds.

If you were living in the U.S., they would have also accepted a driver's license, an electric bill or any other proof of your residence in the U.S.

Since you already told them you are a Brazilian living in Brazil, I see no chicanery.

Understanding the machinations of Amazon’s Brazilian strategy and/or that of the Brazilian government is far above my ancient addled pay scale and I won’t comment on them, except to repeat: free markets work best.

My sympathy. Can you not order books and other things directly from publisher, bookstores or suppliers here or Europe? Here many large stores like Sears for example, have a service where they will order things in their catalog, but not available in the store to be picked up at the store and so avoiding costly delivery charges tacked on the things brought to your home.

Looks to me like Brazil is yearning for some good old (South) American ingenuity. Figure out a money making system for you and some friends from the economics or business departments, dare I say, cartel :-) to circumvent the current system and the road to riches is yours.

I am not kidding.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I don't know if I made myself understood.

It is not about Brazilian license laws - at all! It is only about how a monopoly can, in this free market of the Internet, lead to abusive rules imposed by self interested companies, thus reducing the initial freedom you had. I am trying to show to AOG how his best example of Free Market can follow the picture I gave about it decaying to less freedom.

Notice that I am talking about the e-books market only. I still can buy any real paper book at Amazon, and it still ships it to Brazil with no problem, where I pay zero taxes over it (just to show how it is not about licensing). Amazon only closed us in another space for the e-book market. And only after it coluded with our old cartel. The fact that Amazon could pull it off is that, wel, the *e-book* market itself is almost monopolized by it, there are many (english) e-books that only Amazon sells.


So now in many cases it is cheaper for me to buy a paper book and have it delivered (which takes 1-2 months in the cheapest option) to Brazil, than to download the e-book in 1 milisecond by the internet.

You believe Free Markets leads always to better solutions. You could tst your faith explaining where I am better off in this e-books example.

Paraphrasing Bret, I say that Free Market is always the best solution, until it isn't. There must be ways to check its power too, as with every major power of society.

erp said...

Okay, I just got off the phone with Kindle customer service. Apparently in order to buy ebooks customers must have a an address in the U.S. This is true even for Canadians, so it's not Brazil's cartels who are to blame.

Kindle is not the only reader and amazon is not the only purveyer of ebooks.

Send me an email if you'd like me to get on the phone with B&N or some other ebooks seller.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"It is not about Brazilian license laws - at all! It is only about how a monopoly can" use those copyright laws to create the monopoly. By your own claim, the "Capones" were able to legally threaten Amazon. What should Amazon have done, that was legal? How did those three companies get all the copyrights for the entire country?

I would say your question demonstrates a continuing lack of understanding and re-iterates my earlier point - you comare libertrian / free market systems to utopias (e.g., where every single person experiences the best possible outcome). Yes, free markets are inferior to imagined perfect societies. So what?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

A correction: my claim was that the Capones may have threatened to give no licenses of Brazilian e-books to Amazon. It was never a legal threat (for Amazon was doing nothing wrong), only a commercial one. And a very standard thing in a free market by the way. As a final disclaimer, I have no proof of it all, it is just a (reasonable) conspirational theory by an unsatisfied consumer.

I see you discard it completely, but I believe I gave your a fair amount of facts and reasoning for why there must be rules against monopoly. All applied to a real and recent case I've experienced by myself. You are the one lacking in facts to back up your view, IMO.

It is not even controversial to defend rules against cartelization and monopoly - only in a Libertarian blog you see such a blind faith in absolutely free market forces.

On your question, well, I do not really know how those companies got there. But once you have monopoly, it is self enforced: authos will publish with them because, otherwise, they will have zero visibility.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "It is not even controversial to defend rules against cartelization and monopoly - only in a Libertarian blog you see such a blind faith in absolutely free market forces."

The first part is true - it is not controversial. Indeed, for many, it's the narrative to be believed at all costs. However, it is not universally believed - a sizeable minority and growing number of economists believe that antitrust laws have done substantially more harm than good. I don't have time to put together a list for you at the moment - perhaps that'll be the topic of an upcoming post.

There is a nuance even for the sizeable minority who question the effectiveness of antitrust laws. More harm than good refers to the effect of antitrust laws on the consumer. There is no doubt that the fierce competition of some of the so-called monopolists and "robber barons" was devastating to other producers who were unable to innovate at a rapid enough rate to survive.

So if the idea is to protect business and foment crony-capitalism, then antitrust has value. If the idea is to protect the consumer, then not so much.

erp said...

In business as in most things, it's sink or swim. Calling businessmen robber barons and enacting anti-trust laws was to protect the status quo. Something can only be a monopoly when it's protected by the government. Otherwise there will always be a little mouse nibbling at the feet of the elephant.

Who woulda thunk it that IBM would be surpassed by a couple college dropouts working their garage.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I guess you have a good point, that is an example where monopoly did not stiffle competition. But there are many other were it did. What differentiate one from the other may be a good question.

Bret:

I wait then for your post on the subject.

Howard said...

that is an example where monopoly did not stiffle competition. But there are many other were it did.

Clovis,

Are you basing that on a set of economic analyses or are you just assuming that the progressive narrative is correct?

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

I am no economist, which means I am borrowing much from other people. But I am pretty sure that a good range of them, from the right to the left, believe that in one form or the other. As Bret qualified, there may be a "sizable minority" who do not, it is in their shoulders to prove the majority wrong.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"my claim was that the Capones may have threatened to give no licenses of Brazilian e-books to Amazon. It was never a legal threat (for Amazon was doing nothing wrong)"

And suppose Amazon had published those books anyway, without a license? What would have happened? What was the basis of the threat, other than legal action if Amazon did not do as it was told? Or is your claim that these Capones would have engaged in literal violence against Amazon?

"I believe I gave your a fair amount of facts and reasoning for why there must be rules against monopoly"

I don't. You gave one case and left unexamined

1) How, exactly, this monopoly came in to existence. Since, as you stated, "I do not really know how those companies got there", it could well be that the Brazilian government passed a law to give all those copyrights to those firms, which would make it a government created monopoly. That's certainly been a common pattern in this sort of thing, in which case the solution isn't more legislation, but the removal of the ability of the government to pass such laws.

2) What Amazon should have done differently, to not be a party to this. Commit violations of Brazilian copyright law?

3) How you are worse off for this than you were before Amazaon became involved. You didn't have affordable access to these e-books before Amazon either.

Personally, I am one of those who find it clear from the historical record that anti-monopoly laws do far more harm than good for consumers and the economy. To evaluate that, what legal changed, exactly, would you implement in this situation?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Sorry but you keep misunderstanding me. I am complaining only about the very same English ebook you buy (not the Brazilian ones) - the same file your Kindle downloads, identic in every bit - was sold by Amazon to me for one price in one day, triple the next one. I repeat, no licensing laws can possibly be involved in that.


But let's move forward, I believe it is your turn: show me your selected examples to back up that "historical record that anti-monopoly laws do far more harm than good for consumers and the economy."

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I think your last question deserves an answer that I've forgotten to address:

"To evaluate that, what legal changed, exactly, would you implement in this situation?"

Now, this is where things get interesting: my proposal it to do nothing about it, nothing at all.

So, does it mean I am a Libertarian? No, only that instead of stating Platonic ideals, I try to understand the system and its enviroment, and only after that propose solutions. So in this specific case, I say the solution is to do nothing.

I am sure you've heard before about the Lafer curve:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

It basically shows that, when a too greed government wants to tax too much, people will not pay - they'll find ways to cheat, or give up working, etc.

Similar phenomena happens for products prices, and even more easily for digital/virtual ones.

If their price is unfair and excludes a good part of the population, people will either cheat or not buy the book, like in the taxes case.

So, this is the environment: law enforcenment in Brazil is quite lax for digital media. The same overpricing you see with books happens with DVD's anc CD's too.

What happens is that the population is mostly counterfeiting it. It is trival to download movies, music and books in the internet.

So these companies (Amazon included now) are just losing revenue, much like the govt. loses revenue when it tries to tax too much.

I can almost bet that Amazon, in the medium term, will see the mistake it did. I would love to see a timeline of their profit reports associated with Brazilian customer only.

I am in the club of customers who just stopped to buy from them, just like someone not working if the government taxes 100% of his income. But I know many who are getting those ebooks out there for free.




Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

If it's just Amazon raising prices, what does that have to do with monopolies?

As a counter example, I give you Alcoa.

Even the government history reads as an indictment of the entire effort.

The break up of Standard Oil is another. As is the case against IBM.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Thank you for the Alcoa link, I'll take a look.

As for the Standard Oil and IBM cases, I have not much idea what you are talking about, it is probably before I was even born. I can google it, but if you give me a link with an analysis that you agree with, it would be easier.



Annoying Old Guy said...

Since I've given you a link and specific, example, why don't you give me an example of where anti-trust efforts by a government made things better? Surely it has had one success somewhere.

Bret said...

aog,

That's what always struck me about anti-trust. In every case that I'm aware, at best, by the time the anti-trust settlement occurred, the alleged monopoly was already losing market share and/or prices to the consumer were dropping rapidly.

So I think your challenge to Clovis is a great one. In which case(s), did an antitrust settlement clearly make things better. This is a challenge for you too, Harry.

erp said...

No challenge required Bret. Law or supply and demand works everytime. When a monopoly gets too big and greedy, there's always someone on their heels. The only time this doesn't work is when the government takes over as in Obama's takeover of the auto industry.

The opposite is true for public programs. They live on forever and keep getting their budgets increased, etc. I remember reading about some pretty hilarious programs in the Bureau of Indian Affairs which are decades, if not centuries, out of date.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Here is a post that touches on several anti-trust efforts that turned in to miserable failures in exactly the way Bret describes, including IBM, Xerox, and Microsoft.

IMHO, the only anti-trust efforts that have been successful are those in which the government stops supporting government created monopolies.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I will start with a very good and simple example.

There were many cases of overpricing of remedies by Big Pharma cartel.

A few countries, mine included, decided do adopt a simple politics: for a selected list of remedies that were too important for far too many people, and that are usually bought by the government for its hospitals and health centers - we are talking about contracts of hundreds of millions each - the government decided to pass a kind of public safety law.

It would break their patents taking in account public safety concerns when needed.

Do you know what happened? It did not need to break the patents. Only the threat it could do it made Big Pharma to be much more reasonable in price negotiations.

Furthermore, the governemnt gave incentives for new pharm companies to start producing drugs whose patents were no longer protected. It also helped a lot to bring prices down.

Such politics had a huge influence to make Brazl, for example, a world leader in treatment of AIDS. You can get AIDS treatment here for free, or at very low prices, mainly because the government fought with Big Pharma to bring the prices down. It helped the life of millions, we give much assistance even to Africa nowadays.

I've chosen this example because it probably has many elements that make Libertarians go crazy. But as far as they made the market "less free", they did so mainly with good outcomes: i) the revenue Big Pharma was getting was way beyond reasonable, the truth being that they are still making zillions with far lower prices; ii) Millions are getting better treatment and life; iii) More competition and variety was stimulated; iv) Contrary to what a Libertarian will be inclined to argue, it did not make Big Pharma any less able to do research and make money, nor it affected capitalism.

Big Companies and Big Government are like medicine. They may do good in right combinations, or they may kill you at the wrong ones. That looks to me quite a reasonable assumption - probably one that good conservatives of yesterday would agree.





Annoying Old Guy said...

"There were many cases of overpricing of remedies by Big Pharma cartel.

Examples, please. Who gets to define "overpricing"? What do you mean by "cartel"?

"[the government] would break their patents".

That is, the government breaking a government created monopoly. This goes directly back to the "Big Pharma cartel" - how is it a cartel for a single company to own a patent? If this is your example, you shouldn't support anti-trust, you should support the abolition of patents and copyrights.

"Do you know what happened? It did not need to break the patents. Only the threat it could do it made Big Pharma to be much more reasonable in price negotiations."

That is, "We didn't have to actually kidnap their children, only the threat was enough to get them to pay up". That you see that as morally good shows how far apart our world views are. It certainly illustrates Bret's point in the original post here.

"the governemnt gave incentives for new pharm companies to start producing drugs whose patents were no longer protected. It also helped a lot to bring prices down."

You mean, it made much of the cost hidden. Or do you believe the money for those incentives fell from the sky like mana?

For your points i, iii, and iv, I find them all quite disputable. You are simply presuming those results with no evidence. For point ii, we could do the same by removing laws against theft. It help the poor, for a while. Would you recommend that as a policy? If not, how is it different from what you are praising here?

erp said...

Clovis, I won't repeat all the reasons that government interference is counterproductive including your example about "free" AIDS treatment.

My question is: Has makinig drugs available to AIDS patients at no cost to them (they're obviously not free as nothing is free) caused them to change their life style? If so, what percentage of them?

With absolutely no evidence to back me up and only relying on human nature, I'm willing to bet that life among AIDS suffers is going on much the same and they're relying on the government to take care of them with absolutely no cost to themselves.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:


What I can tell you is that AIDS infection rates have been steadily droping. The possibility of cheap treatment is by far no substitute for the hassle AIDS patients suffer. Even the best medicines still give them horrible side effects and a life far from comfortable.

So, if your question is motivated by the fear that govt. help may lead people to indulge their personal responsibilities, the answer is that in this case it does not look to be so. Note that I am not denying it can happen in other cases, and your preoccupation is perfectly valid.


AOG:

---------
"There were many cases of overpricing of remedies by Big Pharma cartel.

Examples, please. Who gets to define "overpricing"? What do you mean by "cartel"?
----------

Overpricing depends always on context. In this specific case, it i a maring of profit astronomically greater than costs to research, produce and commercialize the product, at the expene of (mostly poor) populations who may die in lack of it.

The use of the word cartel here was not appropriate and I take it back.


-----
That is, the government breaking a government created monopoly.
-----
I am at loss here by what you mean.


-----
That is, "We didn't have to actually kidnap their children, only the threat was enough to get them to pay up". That you see that as morally good shows how far apart our world views are. It certainly illustrates Bret's point in the original post here.
-----

Oh no, the horror, the horror: someone who thinks different from you :-)

Your analogy misses the point by so far that I can only recommend for you to try soup and nuts too.

-----------
"the governemnt gave incentives for new pharm companies to start producing drugs whose patents were no longer protected. It also helped a lot to bring prices down."

You mean, it made much of the cost hidden. Or do you believe the money for those incentives fell from the sky like mana?
-----------
Govt. incentives are a little bit like your own investment strategies. They may pay, or may not. If an incentive leads to a robust industry paying taxes later on, it is like an investment which gave good returns. But I understand if this concept looks hard to grasp within your theological worldview.


Now, your last question must be rethorical, so I will pass.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"the government breaking a government created monopoly"

A patent is a legal monopoly on producing a product, created and enforced by government. Breaking a patent, as you describe, is therefore not breaking up a private sector monopoly, but breaking a monopoly that is entirely the product of the government.

"Oh no, the horror, the horror: someone who thinks different from you" -- you wrote that, not me.

The point of my analogy is making a threat is not excused because the target gives in before the threat is exercised.

No, my last question was not rhetorical. Breaking a patent as you describe is, in my opinion, simply theft.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

You've got to decide.

If the govt. is the source of power to mantain a patent (e.g. a "govt created monopoly" in your own words), it is also the authority to decide on no longer mantaining a patent.

Now, theft is to illegally strip off someone of something that society - government! - decided to recognize as pertaining to that person.

Is it that unclear the difference to you?


Annoying Old Guy said...

Apparently.

My claim was these were morally equivalent. If the Brazilian government passed a law that you were to be harvested of your organs to be donated to the poor, that would (in your view) be legal but I would still consider morally equivalent to murder.

In this case the government didn't repeal patent law in general, but specifically acted to extort the value of particular patents from particular owners. That, in my view, is immoral and here in the USA, illegal, even if done by the government (see "Bill of Attainder" and the Fifth Amendment).

Moreover, my analogy was the government removing the laws against theft, which would make it completely legal. Would you support that policy? If not, why not? How is it different than removing patent protection? A better analogy, though, would be the government removing laws against theft for particular houses or businesses. That's an almost exact analogy. What is your view on policy, especially in a moral sense?

erp said...

This is a perfect example of crony capitalism. The government embodied at the present time by Obama et al. confiscates our tax dollars and gives it to their cronies who then redistributes it back to them.

FTA: Bank of America went along with the Merrill Lynch deal and received $45 billion from TARP.

Forty-five billion with a "b" -- BoA is now a wholly owned subsidary of the elites in Washington.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I read your argument on forced organ donations as telling me you do not want a serious discussion on this issue. Better to save both our times.


Bret said...

The main argument here looks to me to be a basic "rule by fiat" versus "rule of law".

On the "rule by fiat" side, we have "If the govt. is the source of power to mantain a patent (e.g. a "govt created monopoly" in your own words), it is also the authority to decide on no longer mantaining a patent."

On the "rule by law" side, we have "That ... is immoral and here in the USA, illegal, even if done by the government (see "Bill of Attainder" and the Fifth Amendment)."

"Rule by fiat" is how humans were organized for the entirety of their existence until the last few thousand years. "Rule of law" is a relatively recent development.

My personal preference is strongly for "rule of law", but I understand that "might makes right" so that those with power are always very tempted by "rule by fiat". I think that it's a corrupt and immoral way to rule, but that's just me.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Please let's review how we make laws, for they are all by fiat, product of the human mind.

It is important to remark that, in my examples above (i.e. patent laws), my use of the word government was very broad: it means the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

In that specific example, lawmakers, following an urge by the people they represented, offered an amendment of the Law of Patents, where it could be broken in special cases demonstrably related to public safety.
Other lawmakers, representing other interests (the affected industry, for example) could very well not agree and make their case, as they did.

From the point of view of the "morality", you must recognize here a conflict of "moralities". Some people would believe it utterly immoral to let thousands die for lack of acessible medicine. Others think it immoral to let private profits be diminished in favor of public interest.

In this clash of morals and interests, any democratic country follows a very simple procedure: put it up to vote.

And not any simple vote. To protect most basic rights, such as property rights, it is common for many constitutions, ours included, to define a super-majority rule for some kind of laws to pass.

In the patent law case, a super-majority won. And after that, the law could still be reviewed by the Superior Court of the judiciary branch, to make sure it is sound and within constitution boundaries.

So, as far as I understand of constitutional rules and democracy, nothing in my example of the patent laws was a "rule by fiat" by an autocratic executive branch, but it was indeed the standard procedure followed in every free country "ruled by law".


If you view patents rights in close analogy with property rights, this is very much like the provision in the Law that allows govt. to take some private owned land for national interests in exchange of a (theoretically fair) reinbursement (e.g. like the Army deciding to install a base there for national defense reasons related to that specific spot). In that cases you are obliged to concede the land, and if you do not think the govt. paid it fairly, you can also treat the matter in the justice system in pursue of a better payment.

Similarly, a company that had the patent broken should be paid fairly for that. If the amount offered was not considered fair by the affected part, it would be equally free to argue so in court. As fas as I know, none of the Big Pharma companies went for that path, they just thought it better to lower their prices.

In the above context, it is thus clear how AOG comparisons with forced organ donation, or legalized theft, are dishonest. None of them would have being aproved under the above provisions.

So, Bret, I can only conclude that what is really happening here is the following: when lawmakers approve of laws you agree with, you call it democracy. When you are in the losing side, you call it immoral and corrupt.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"In the above context, it is thus clear how AOG comparisons with forced organ donation, or legalized theft, are dishonest. None of them would have being aproved under the above provisions."

So, the only thing that makes those immoral or wrong is the inability to get a sufficient vote?

P.S. I do find it mordantly ironic that a putative physicist finds the use of unrealistic gedanken experiments to illustrate basic points be unserious. Really...physicists never do that sort of thing?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Please let's review how we make laws, for they are all by fiat, product of the human mind."

"Rule of law" and "Rule by fiat" (also known as "Rule by man") have specific meanings. For example, from Wikipedia:

The functional interpretation of the term "rule of law", consistent with the traditional English meaning, contrasts the "rule of law" with the "rule of man."[28] According to the functional view, a society in which government officers have a great deal of discretion has a low degree of "rule of law", whereas a society in which government officers have little discretion has a high degree of "rule of law".[28]"

Clovis wrote: "In this clash of morals and interests, any democratic country follows a very simple procedure: put it up to vote. "

Sure. That's "Tyranny of the Majority":

"The phrase "tyranny of the majority" (or "tyranny of the masses"), used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, envisions a scenario in which decisions made by a majority place its interests so far above those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active oppression, comparable to that of tyrants and despots.[1]"

aog was exaggerating in some of his earlier comments, but "put it up to vote" for any issue that some politician can get enough people riled up about does put one at the edge of a slippery slope to some pretty horrible scenarios.

Clovis wrote: "Some people would believe it utterly immoral to let thousands die for lack of acessible medicine."

Indeed. If there were no tradeoffs whatsoever, virtually everybody would agree with that statement. Thus, in and of itself, such a statement has absolutely no relevance to anything.

So let me add some contexts in order to give the statement meaning to see what you think.

1. Clearly, if it's just a matter of using the full force of government to coerce those with the medicines and/or the capability to make those medicines to give them to the thousands with AIDS, you're all for it.

2. What if like minded people pooled resources and negotiated a deal with the Pharma companies that was voluntary on the part of all parties to provide the medicines to the poor with AIDS? Could you get behind something like that, or does government need to be involved for you to support it? (Note that the Pharma companies have numerous such programs, at least here in the U.S.).

3. What if, sort of like Robin Hood, marauding bandits robbed banks in order to buy the medicines from the Pharma companies in order to distribute them to the poor with AIDS because they happened to be "some people" who "believe it utterly immoral to let thousands die for lack of acessible medicine." Would you applaud, condemn, or be ambivalent?

4. What if instead of banks, the marauding bandits robbed rich individuals?

5. What if instead of banks, the marauding bandits robbed random individuals?

6. What if instead of robbing individuals, the marauding bandits stole the medicines from the Pharma companies and directly distributed them?

To me, the only moral solution is #2. To me, #1 and #6 are very similar, probably not moral on balance, and it seems to me the two scenarios are nearly indistinguishable from the point of view of the Pharma company. In either case, groups take something with force or because of the threat of force. #3 and #4 and #5 are even less moral to me, yet #4 and #5 aren't all that much different than government extracting taxes from the citizens to fund things like buying medicines.

What are your morality ratings of 1-5?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

--
So, the only thing that makes those immoral or wrong is the inability to get a sufficient vote?
--
First, there is reality - most of the lawmakers themselves would be the least interested of all.

Second, there is the constitution, any such absurd law would probably be barred even before going to court, as not only congress, but senate and the president would need to abide sign it. Even then, in the final limit, no court would uphold it.

Third, sure everyone in the country may loose their minds, agree to throw away the constitution an rewrite a new and radical one. It happened in the past in many countries, and it can happen in the future anywhere, but I do not think this is our subject here and now.



---
P.S. I do find it mordantly ironic that a putative physicist finds the use of unrealistic gedanken experiments to illustrate basic points be unserious. Really...physicists never do that sort of thing?
---
I myself use analogies here all the time. I do take care though to make contact with objective reality and remain within topic. I see them as a way to drive my point in easier ways and facilitate comprehension. If they are used only as jabs, the conversation heads not to search for truth, but to showmanship of blunt opinions.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"sure everyone in the country may loose their minds, agree to throw away the constitution an rewrite a new and radical one"

On what basis could you assert that those citizens have lost their minds, if they all support it, the legislature votes for it, the President signs it, and the courts uphold it?

Contrary to your view, I think this is exactly what we are talking about, the theoretical basis for political ideology. Hard and extreme cases make for better examination of that, IMHO, just like bigger particle accelerators let you look deeper in to reality.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
... simple procedure: put it up to vote. "

Sure. That's "Tyranny of the Majority":
---
Let us remark here that you are talking not only about the democracy I live in, but every other one, including yours.

The balance to provide protection to minorities is always a quest to be taken during this process. But I believe this is not the topic here. We are not talking about defenseless minorities, but powerful lobbies with the most powerful connections.


---
1. Clearly, if it's just a matter of using the full force of government to coerce those with the medicines and/or the capability to make those medicines to give them to the thousands with AIDS, you're all for it.
---

I believe this is a gross mischaracterization. The full force of govt. would mean its armed forces to take hold of these companies property. That was never in the table.

First, we need to separate physical property from patent property. They are not identical, for one is material and the other is just a sum of ideas. Only in recent human history we gave protection to the last one, and it is a great achievement for civilized societies, but it is not, and should not, be an unbounded one.

Second, no one with the capability to do the medicine would be coerced to do so. To break the patent has the intent only of allowing other interested parties to fabricate it if they wish so.

Third, as for coercement goes, what the govt. is doing is to withdrawn form the use of it - by not acting against those interested in the fabricating the pills at lower prices. Free market! Ironically, one could even argue that my example attended all requirements of your Libertarian definition.

Your morality tests above only have the meaning you intend to if those subtleties above are not taken in account. The govt. is not intefering with private property or physical assets of the parties involved. It is only not accpeting to play its part on providing the means by which a company uses it monopoly over an idea to extort money from whole populations - and extortion is the right word here, for they were charging money most people could not afford in exchange to giving them, literally, a right to live.

It should also be remarked, Bret, that in the same way you defenf that people unhappy with the laws in their state should move to other, no one is coercing any of those companies to continue doing business in my country. If they freely choose to stay, you should very well ask why.

BTW, I was postponing to remark on that, but I can no longer withhold it: It is very interesting how suddenly the matter here is all about a morality play. And those who were complaining of the obnoxious leftists convinced of their "higher morals" are abiding now by the same behavior.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

The full force of govt. would mean its armed forces to take hold of these companies property. That was never in the table.

Yes, it was. That's the point of government, that disobedience will cause an escalation until one obeys, up to and including use of the armed forces.

We are not talking about defenseless minorities, but powerful lobbies with the most powerful connections.

An excellent example of the "rule of fiat" over the "rule of law". It is in the former that such an argument makes sense. For the latter, the law is the law and the social and economic status of those involved is irrelevant.

The key problem with rule of fiat is, who decides? Who decides which people are defenseless minorities, and which are powerful lobbies? If it's majority opinion, I trust you can see the problem with that.

I will point out again, that for Bret and I, these examples are just that, examples, used to illustrate fundamental principles. Speaking for myself, you seem to want to focus very narrowly, where to me the broader implications are the only important thing in the discussion. If the government can do this, what principles does that introduce in the legal regime, and how do those principles apply in other cases? Are there any limits, and if so, what? That's the point of the organ harvesting analogy. If that's beyond the pale, why? In what respects? What differentiates it from this case? Where is the tipping point? If you're going to find the border, you have to stake out positions on both sides of the border.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "It is very interesting how suddenly the matter here is all about a morality play."

You're right, I shouldn't have called it that.

They are simply my preferences, and like all most humans, I happen to think my preferences are moral and others' less so.

As I've argued in many posts on this blog, all morality and all preferences live in the shadow of "Might Makes Right." No matter how moral, preferred, wonderful, etc. something is, if there is insufficient Might to make it happen, it won't. No matter how evil, awful, immoral, etc. something is, if some person or persons have sufficient Might to make it happen and decide to make it happen, it will.

In that sense, I'm a moral relativist - if a set of preferences and/or moral code and/or mores and/or culture cannot maintain sufficient Might to sustain itself, it's not a morality worth considering in my opinion.

The main flaw of Libertarianism is that it's not very powerful and as a result, might not be able to sustain itself. After all, libertarians specifically want to avoid meddling in others' activities, but of course others will continue to strive to meddle in the activities of Libertarians. This asymmetry may very well make any form of Libertarianism unsustainable.

So. My main preferences are that liberty and voluntary association and activities are very important; that coercion backed by the force of government (or marauding bandits) is something to be avoided whenever possible (and since libertarians believe governments are a necessary evil, they fully understand that it's not always possible to avoid government coercion). Are those preferences moral in any sort of objective sense? No. They're just my personal preferences.

Clovis wrote: "First, we need to separate physical property from patent property."

Actually, I think patents and Intellectual Property are a bad thing overall (I've written posts here about that). And I say that as the author and owner of numerous patents. So if it was left to me, there would be no such thing as Patent IP. In which case we wouldn't be having this discussion. :-)

Bret said...

aog wrote: "I will point out again, that for Bret and I, these examples are just that, examples, used to illustrate fundamental principles."

Exactly.

And while some of your examples have been extreme, they pale in comparison to things that have actually happened with the support of strong majorities: numerous genocides, slavery, sterlizations, mob lynchings, etc.

My observations are that majorities CANNOT be relied upon to do the right thing.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Why yes, clearly governments harvesting organs from citizens is completely unrealistic.

Bret said...

They executed him and then harvested his organs (maybe). They didn't kill him for the purpose of harvesting organs.

A bit different.

Annoying Old Guy said...

True, but how long before that changes, once you've set up this system? One need only look at the forfeiture laws in the USA to see how that works. Larry Niven had a good take on this in his earlier works.

However, I did chose that as a deliberately extreme example, I wanted something even Clovis would agree was unacceptable. Then we could do some successive over relaxation to converge on the tipping point.

Mainly I was just jabbing at you with my blunt opinions, Bret, because that's how I roll.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Contrary to your view, I think this is exactly what we are talking about, the theoretical basis for political ideology.
---

Quite not. It all started when you've asked for an "example of where anti-trust efforts by a government made things better". A challenge Bret thought to be "a great one".

IMHO, I did so. For no one tried yet to argue in contrary, e.g. that govt. intervention made things worse - from the point of view of markets, economy and all that. You've been trying to argue it would be bad in very subjective terms of "political ideology" or "morals", but I did not hear anymore about economics.

The above points touch also your other comment:

---
Speaking for myself, you seem to want to focus very narrowly, where to me the broader implications are the only important thing in the discussion.
---

Since I was asked an example, my narrow focus is consequence of your own prior requirement.


----
CLovis: ... armed forces to take hold of these companies property. That was never in the table.

Yes, it was. That's the point of government, that disobedience will cause an escalation until one obeys, up to and including use of the armed forces.
---

No, it was not. Not every govt. decision leads to impasses to be solved by force.

You'll be hard pressed to point out where, in my example, there would be any place for use of force.




---
Are there any limits, and if so, what? That's the point of the organ harvesting analogy. If that's beyond the pale, why? In what respects? What differentiates it from this case?
---

AOG, I truly do not understand if you ask me that to have my personal opinion, or because you ignore how constitutional rule usually work.

You do want to have my opinion on how systems should be devised to forbid abuse by majorities, or do you want to discuss how our present systems already work for that?


Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

---
The main flaw of Libertarianism is that it's not very powerful and as a result, might not be able to sustain itself.
---

I think this is rather an interesting comment. For this is somehow what I've meant before, when I've said that it would be an unstable solution for human relationships. And also the reason I still think your miniarchist state would decay to anarchy or some other thing.

Like Peter, I do not know if America 200 hundred years ago was really an example of Libertarian state. But if it was, it begs the question of how it came to not be anymore.

---
After all, libertarians specifically want to avoid meddling in others' activities, but of
course others will continue to strive to meddle in the activities of Libertarians. This asymmetry may very well make any form of Libertarianism unsustainable.
---

This is somehow naive to say in the modern economy we have today. If you need to buy and sell stuff, to produce goods or services, or to look for jobs or employees, you are condemned to meddle with other people and have them meddling with you.


---
So. My main preferences are that liberty and voluntary association and activities are very important; that coercion backed by the force of government (or marauding bandits) is something to be avoided whenever possible (and since libertarians believe governments are a necessary evil, they fully understand that it's not always possible to avoid government coercion). Are those preferences moral in any sort of objective sense? No. They're just my personal preferences.
---

The strange position I am here in this blog is the following: I am very much for minimizing government interventions in private and public sphere. I just do not think the level of non-intervention Libertarians wish for is possible, or even desirable.

And maybe even you think that. Just after defining Libertarianism, you posed it as a limit you would walk to but not want to achieve yourself.

I do not think it is reasonable to propose an ideal that itself should not be achieved.
Better to deal with the real world we have out there and the real problems it entails.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "It all started when you've asked for an "example of where anti-trust efforts by a government made things better"."

I missed that the big Pharma example was an example of antitrust making things better. Overall, I'll say that you've met the challenge of finding a case where antitrust made something better and arguably made it better overall (more on that later).

I have to admit that I never considered a case like this as being in the realm of antitrust, for a number of reasons.

There's no lack of competition and innovation in Biotech. For example, more than a quarter of all Venture Capital funding in the United States (to the tune of $5 to $10 billion) was invested in Biotech (in hundreds of startups). That's very strong evidence that there are simply no widespread anticompetitive practices in Biotech and Pharma.

I was taught that the main purpose of antitrust action is to "promote or maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies." Since there's fierce competition, especially in early stage Biotech companies, it never occurred to me to consider any action against such companies as falling in the realm of antitrust. And that's why your response to the challenge surprised (so much so I didn't realize it was an answer to the challenge).

You did correctly point out that even though there is overall fierce competition, that some of those companies have won past competitions and have been awarded government granted monopolies via patents on certain products, some of which are used to fight AIDS. This also threw me off the trail because the idea of a government granted patent being an illegitimate basis from that government's perspective for a monopoly seems incredibly odd to me.

That being said, and even though I personally consider your example well outside the realm of antitrust, you are certainly justified in considering it antitrust if that's how it looks to you. And given that it saved lives, it's clear that it made at least something better. It's also clear that one can construct a utility function that shows it making things better overall.

Therefore you succeeded, and even better, in a way that I found surprising and innovative.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I still think your miniarchist state would decay to anarchy or some other thing."

Public Choice Theory (for example as described in The Rise and Decline of Nations) predicts it will decay towards a bloated and oppressive regime - in other words, what we have now.

Clovis wrote: "...you are condemned to meddle..."

"Meddle" means to insert oneself such that the other party or parties are not interacting with you voluntarily. So no, no one is condemned to meddle.

Clovis wrote: "... you posed it as a limit you would walk to but not want to achieve yourself."

I'm a 1st derivative kinda guy. :-)

The direction and velocity is often more important than the destination.

Clovis wrote: "Better to deal with the real world we have out there and the real problems it entails."

To me, the direction (and velocity) towards a minarchy from where we're at, exactly deals with numerous problems from the point of view of my subjective preferences of liberty and voluntary associations having a high level of importance.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Overall, I'll say that you've met the challenge of finding a case where antitrust made something better and arguably made it better overall (more on that later).

I disagree on two points - that was not anti-trust, it was breaking a patent. Two, I lack your confidence that, overall, the situation was made better. I think it was an eating the seed corn kind of situation. So,

For no one tried yet to argue in contrary, e.g. that govt. intervention made things worse

I did in previous comments and this one.

You do want to have my opinion on

what you consider the fundamental principles with which to judge political systems. What distinguishes system you think wrong (allow organ harvesting) or failures (minarchy) vs. acceptable (modern day Brazil).

Bret said...

aog wrote: "I disagree on two points - that was not anti-trust..."

While it doesn't seem like antitrust to me either, I can see why someone could legitimately consider it to be so, especially since I didn't carefully define everything.

I'm tempted to pose a more narrowly defined challenge, but I'm planning on doing a post on the topic within a few weeks anyway.

aog wrote: "I think it was an eating the seed corn kind of situation..."

Maybe, but at worst I think it was very little seed corn. As I mentioned in a previous comment, these companies all have all kinds of programs to help those who can't pay for life savings drugs. After all, they know they're not going to get money from those who can't pay anyway. I'm not sure why the Brazilian government had to be so coercive, but I don't think providing a medicines to a few thousand people in Brazil will significantly adversely affect further research and development in the area.

The danger is that governments become emboldened and then really do kill the goose that laid the golden age of miracle medicines. But we're not there yet.

Annoying Old Guy said...

The danger is that governments become emboldened and then really do kill the goose that laid the golden age of miracle medicines.

Quite. If it were just this case, and we could be confident it wasn't going to be repeated, it would be trivial. But precedents matter and this kind of thing is very slippery slope in the context of the history of South America. We'll see.

Harry Eagar said...

'I could point to specific historical examples (e.g., USA, 1800s)'

The most minarchical part of the USA in the 1800s did decay (if that is the right verb) into something like feudalism, so Clovis wins this one.

It is the libertarians who distribute, like Gideons, Acton's lectures on the perfection of the minarchy in the CSA, so my statement is not the opinion of some leftwinger.

Also, up higher there was some repartee about free markets and whether they did or did not allow for slavery. Historically, they did. See Acton's lectures.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

I am very happy we could agree to some extent about my example.

I realize you see antitrust mainly related to the govt. trying to tame big and dominant companies. But I see it for the philosophy behind, which is to cap damages to markets and consumers due to monopoly. Within this view, I believe I have been coherent.

---
I'm a 1st derivative kinda guy. :-)
The direction and velocity is often more important than the destination.
---

I see, and this is why you were not paying attention to the limitations of Libertarianism in the long run. Stability analysis requires 2nd derivatives ;-)

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
I disagree on two points
---
Well, that comes as no surprise. I believe you rarely agree with your own mirror image :-)

On your first point ("not antitrust"), see my comment above to Bret.

---
Two, I lack your confidence that, overall, the situation was made better. I think it was an eating the seed corn kind of situation.
---
You may be right in not believing the situation was made better overall, in the sense that I am presenting no clear economic analysis, just what I think and hear about it all. But then you are being unfair, for blog comments sections are no academic journals of economy, and I am no economist to prove my point in that sense.

Still, you did loose the subtleties of my description of the limitations to the law to break the patents. Overall, the matter was treated carefully by the govt., for it tries to comply with international norms of patent protection, risking international penalties otherwise. And the govt. continues paying hundreds of millions to those companies every year, who look happy enough to me.



---
But precedents matter and this kind of thing is very slippery slope in the context of the history of South America.
---
Oh, sure, the Caudilho caricature must come to your mind every time I mention Brazil here.

I did forget to mention to you though, that this whole patent law breaking example I gave happened (and was supported by) during our last right-leaning governmemnt (our analogue of Republicans), and the main politician advancing the law did run for presidency twice after that, with implicit and explicit support from US Republicans.



---
what you consider the fundamental principles with which to judge political systems. What distinguishes system you think wrong (allow organ harvesting) or failures (minarchy) vs. acceptable (modern day Brazil).
---

I believe you are asking to the wrong person. I can tell you a lot more about the fundamental principles of Physics and the Universe than about our flawed, short living and short sighted human laws.

BTW, I would never cite modern day Brazil as an acceptable system, I would say that of the more sucessfull democracies, my country will take still some time to get there.


Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

I think there is one more point you've touched that deserves comment:

---
I'm not sure why the Brazilian government had to be so coercive
---

Is is very much related to your previous question:

---
What if like minded people pooled resources and negotiated a deal with the Pharma companies...
---


So, the point is that no like minded people with resources in Brazil does much of that kind of philanthropy. This behavior has deep historical roots I'll not touch here, but it is a fact.

Add to that the fact that we already have our "Obamacare" here since a few decades ago - yes, there is universal, free healt care for all, though in practice mostly only poor people use it due to the lower standard and quality.


So, both the federal and state govts. have almost a mandate to provide care for all this network of health care it mantains at federal and state levels.

Hence, when life saving drugs (like AIDS treatment) arrive at astronomical prices, and the govt. tries to make it universally acessible, you run in the most simple of walls: lack of money. The government would be either incapacitated to provide the medicine (running against popular will), or would go broke trying.

The easier solution was to work to make the prices of the medicines lower. IMHO, it did so in smart ways, and still giving plenty of money for the companies selling it.

It is also easy why a broad majority (left or right leaning) of the population gave support to the amendment of patent laws: it was either that, or have us all going broke to make Big Pharma ever more rich.

I think this is all rich material for thought, and many lessons can be taken from this little story.

I hear that one of the reasons advocated for Obamacare was that it would provide more leverage to bring down costs of the US health system. Soon enough, you may start to experience the dilemmas that have lead us to " to be so coercive" with Big Pharma. If it comes to that in US, I would like to watch if AOG will be a little more humble after the experience.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"Oh, sure, the Caudilho caricature must come to your mind every time I mention Brazil here."

Hmmm, I recall you writing "Maybe your problem AOG is [...] you keep interpreting what you think I must think, not what I am actually writing"

I hear that one of the reasons advocated for Obamacare was that it would provide more leverage to bring down costs of the US health system. Soon enough, you may start to experience the dilemmas that have lead us to " to be so coercive" with Big Pharma. If it comes to that in US, I would like to watch if AOG will be a little more humble after the experience.

Why would you expect that? I couldn't ask for a better example demonstrating the validity of my point of view. Government creates a monopoly (universal health care), it works poorly, so government gets more coercive. Slippery slope, anyone?

erp said...

Once again Clovis ala Harry makes my point for me.

Add to that the fact that we already have our "Obamacare" here since a few decades ago - yes, there is universal, free health care for all, though in practice mostly only poor people use it due to the lower standard and quality.

So a huge bureaucracy is put into place to support the myth of "universal" health care which those who can afford to use private health care don't use.

Sounds like the same system we have here right now. Those who can, take care of their own health and those who don't or won't take care of themselves, use a system already in place like Medicaid or simply walking into an ER.

I had this conversation only this morning with my husband's cardiologist who's planning on retiring (he's 53) rather than continue working under the coming fascism and he isn't the only physician about to make that same decision.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Hmmm, I recall you writing "Maybe your problem AOG is [...] you keep interpreting what you think I must think, not what I am actually writing"
---
Well, I've got your sentence, interpreted as a jab and sent back a comment with irony.
Since you've stated "Mainly I was just jabbing [...] because that's how I roll", I may be reading you wrong sometimes. If so, I am sorry.



---
Why would you expect that? I couldn't ask for a better example demonstrating the validity of my point of view. Government creates a monopoly (universal health care), it works poorly, so government gets more coercive. Slippery slope, anyone?
---

I do not understand why you state that universal health care is a govt. created monopoly. I can certainly defend it is not so in our case: the private health care system here is huge and very lucrative.

What the govt. created with the public health care is a mandatory spenditure that can run out of control for many reasons, including the "obligation" to buy new life saving medicine of astronomical prices.

Let us see it from a "game theory" point of view: the govt. creates a huge demand and market for those medicines, i.e. the company knows the govt. will be self-obliged to buy tons of it. So it is not to ask too much for them to reduce the price, and the govt. does just that. The company, of course, betting the govt. will need to buy it anyway, does not reduce it. The govt. then, aware of his lack of leverage, tries an upper hand showing it may also be less interested in making their patents protected. The company reduces the price a little, the govt. goes happy and buys it.

In the end the company is still making much more money than it would be doing in the other situation: the govt. just gives up to buy the medicine and the company goes on charging its standard astronomical price.

I get the part where the govt. "tries an upper hand" greatly bothers you, but it is just the way I condensed the story - for in reality there was a whole more complex debate and the war of morals and interests I've described before.

My point, after all, was just to explain the origin of this whole thing: public health care. Had we not had one, the govt. would not have passed that laws and so on.

The final result would be that those companies would be selling much less. People would be buying much less (for they had no means). No conglomerate of rich people with good will in Brazil - and of that I am sure - would pick up the tab and buy the stuff for people who could not. Do you realize, AOG, that in terms of market, we still got the best outcome then - richer company, happier people - even if for that the govt. needed to intervene?






Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I knew that, just by mentioning "Obamacare", you would be back to the blog - nice to hear from you again :-)

Look, since I've got the prize from Bret's challenge and was pretty satisfied, I decided to go for the bigger discussion that AOG was asking for.

So, I am fully presenting to you guys the whole picture as I know it.

And this is a complex picture, where I am aware that your right leaning interpretations - e.g. it would reinforce the case against universal health care and so on - are possible.

I hope I can also present other points. For example, my comment to AOG right above makes the case that, even tough health care is costly, govts. can be coercive, and life can be tough, we still could achieve a better market outcome.

The Libertarian definition Bret posted takes as a God given fact that, within it, the best market configurations will be achieved: "[...] approach to the economy is most likely to lead to economic prosperity".

I would like, for example, to understand how it would be true within my patent laws example above.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry:

Good to know I was right on that one too! Although I have the impression this time Bret will not agree.

But what is "CSA" and what part of the US descended into feudalism?

erp said...

Clovis: Right now I am pre-occupied with domesticity and I am a big picture kinda girl anyway. You boys like to argue imponderables. It's interesting, but not my interest.

CSA stands for Confedrate States of America aka the South in our civil war. You might find Harry's explanations a bit confusing, but don't be discouraged. Most of the time they don't make sense to the rest of us either.

You may need to live another 30 or so years before you even know the right questions and you will never know all the answers, but keep searching.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I do not understand why you state that universal health care is a govt. created monopoly

Probably the "universal" part. Or is your claim that government didn't create that system? Although perhaps monopsony is a better description.

the govt. creates a huge demand and market for those medicines

Wouldn't the simple and obvious solution be for the government to not create that demand?

Government creates a problem, and you say "lets have more of that". Then you have 2 problems and don't understand why.

Do you realize, AOG, that in terms of market, we still got the best outcome then - richer company, happier people - even if for that the govt. needed to intervene?

No, I don't. I think that is deeply mistaken reading of the situation. The root is that you are assuming the government somehow creates money / wealth ex nihilo. When you ask the question "where did all the money to make this work come from?", then you can begin to understand why your analysis is wrong.

P.S. I wasn't jabbing at you, but I don't hesitate to jab at Bret.

Harry Eagar said...

Yes, Confederate States of America, and yes, debt peonage with political control in the hands of a tiny minority of large landowners, using enforcement from a brutal, corrupt and extremely violent police force.

Not much different, I believe, from the situation in northeast Brazil, except that nothing like liberation theology ever arose in the Bible Belt.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry:

I am surprised that you know about liberation theology, or Brazil's northeast "coronelism" (as it was known here in those times).

I can tell you though that, in our Northeast case, I do not think you can describe it related to Liberatianism in any meaningful way.

Now, on the CSA, I thought they only had slavery of black people. So, are you are telling me that they applied debt peonage to white people?

And these Acton's lectures (never heard about it) defend it all as good Libertarianism?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Or is your claim that government didn't create that system?
---
My claim is that there is no public monopoly of health care down here. The existence of the public option does not hinder the private one if you look at market share, price dynamics and so on. The public one mostly covers peole who would not be part of the health care system at all, so both markets have little coupling.


---
Wouldn't the simple and obvious solution be for the government to not create that demand [of medicine]?
---
It amounts to say that a simpler solution would be not having a public health care system. That agains show, AOG, my critique to your Libertarian view of the world: lack of touch with reality.

There is no real possibility to extinguish our public health care system here. So, I do the rest of the math assuming it as a given.


---
When you ask the question "where did all the money to make this work come from?", then you can begin to understand why your analysis is wrong.
---
I am well aware from where the money comes from, I dearly pay my taxes every year.


Try my shoes for a moment, AOG: in a decade or two, you may also see the costs of Obamacare increasing (our "Obamacare" has almost 30 years now). There is a component of it public funded to guarantee the care of people who can not afford it, as far as I know. Those people may well need expensive new medicines in the near future too.

Now, when (and if) you see that costs increasing, I would like to see if you will be so mad at your government steping in to drive it down. And it may do so in ways you would call "coercive" now, but when it is your money on the line, I bet you'll call it another name.

And please, do not give me the line that you will just turn off your public health care system then, please remain within real possibilities just for a moment.


Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I would like to tell you one other thing: I believe your physician may dislike the changes, but I can bet money that he will not retire.

How much do you want to lose? :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

There is no real possibility to extinguish our public health care system here. So, I do the rest of the math assuming it as a given.

No. As before, you don't get to decide that for me.

I am well aware from where the money comes from, I dearly pay my taxes every year.

Yet you completely ignore that in your analysis. Why?

in a decade or two, you may also see the costs of Obamacare increasing [...] when (and if) you see that costs increasing, I would like to see if you will be so mad at your government steping in to drive it down.

So, you think my reaction should be to blame someone else other than the "Obamacare", which you admit drives up the price? I should ask for more of the disease when it starts to hurt? The government will not succeed at driving the costs down, it never does. This again shows, Clovis, my critique to your view of the world: it is out of touch with reality.

do not give me the line that you will just turn off your public health care system then

I will work to turn off public health care then.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Clovis: do not give me the line that you will just turn off your public health care system then
AOG: I will work to turn off public health care then.
---
OK, and if you do not succeed, what would be your next step?


---
Clovis: I am well aware from where the money comes from, I dearly pay my taxes every year.
AOG: Yet you completely ignore that in your analysis. Why?
---
I did not - I've indicated how the broad support to the ammendment of the law comes from the fact that people did not want to pay even more taxes to support the increase in costs of the medicine.



Annoying Old Guy said...

OK, and if you do not succeed, what would be your next step?

None. I will work at that until I succeed or die. I will do what I consider morally correct, even if I stand alone. I will be very mad at my government for creating Obamacare in the first place. That this will cause them to eventually make it even worse I accept resignedly.

You ignored the tax costs when discussing the benefits of the universal care, for instance in claiming cost reductions instead of cost shift (e.g., from the buyers to the taxpayers). You looked at only the direct benefits and none of the indirect costs (e.g., taxes). That's why I completely disagree with your claim that you "got the best outcome" on that subject. I do find it interesting that you've kind of put that aside and now argue on the sole basis of inevitability. History is filled with the shadows of things everyone thought were inevitable.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "The Libertarian definition Bret posted takes as a God given fact that, within it, the best market configurations will be achieved: "[...] approach to the economy is most likely to lead to economic prosperity"."

The definition says "generally believe" not "takes as a God given fact."

Clovis wrote: "I would like, for example, to understand how it would be true within my patent laws example above."

When?

Over time, what incentives are adversely affected such that our children and descendants have less access to healthcare and drugs than they otherwise would have? In general (not as a god given fact :-), I believe these little government market distortions move people away from the future towards the present, away from investment towards consumption, away from self-reliance towards government dependence, and away from living towards merely existing.

Was this particular one devastating? No, of course not. Just as eating a piece of chocolate cake isn't devastating to your health and fatness. But over time, repeatedly and continually eating cake will make you fat and even kill you.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I believe your physician may dislike the changes, but I can bet money that he will not retire."

I'm lost at this statement. Are you saying that physicians will all work till there dying day now?

The physicians I know are my age and will all certainly retire within 10 years or so, Obamacare or not. They all (every last single one of them) claim they will retire earlier because of Obamacare. When they retire and claim that they retired earlier than they otherwise would have because of Obamacare, how would you prove that they are lying?

I think the trend over the next few decades, with or without Obamacare, is for far more doctors to be immigrants. Americans aren't interested in putting up with all those years of school and hassles to be part of the medical establishment given its current trajectory.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I am well aware from where the money comes from, I dearly pay my taxes every year."

That's one way to look at it.

I would say that the money was diverted from other uses which were likely (in aggregate and over time) to have had higher utility.

Harry Eagar said...

Clovis, I regret to say that Latin America is the sector of the globe I have studied the least, but I have friends and family who have worked there, as missionaries, secular and religious; so I picked up scraps here and there.

Yes, indeed, the South (once it rejoined the Union) had debt peonage for landless whites as well as blacks.

In a few cases (but not many), the economic condition of the whites was even worse; so much so that when (in the depression of the '20s that Guy does not believe happened) blacks fled the land for northern cities, whites flooded in to take up sharecropping contracts.

The South was both a racist and a classist society, and the landowners were concerned to oppress all labor. However, since the form of democracy endured, they had to take different approaches.

Blacks were disfranchised after 1890. Poor whites were allowed to vote but manipulated (by religion and poor schooling and racebaiting) to vote against their own economic interests.

It is an irony of our history that blacks now have the vote and use it to vote their own interests (to the intense anger of people like erp), while southern poor whites still vote against their own interests -- they form the core of the modern Republican party.

erp said...

Harry, most blacks and many whites aren't voting their own interests and that is incontrovertible. If they were, they'd be clamoring to get the unions out of the schools so their kids could be educated and ready to join the mainstream economy.

What they are doing is putting themselves and their children into servitude far worse than slavery and giving over to the poverty pimps powers a pasha would be ashamed to assume.

Harry Eagar said...

You mean like this, erp?

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/08/23/pat-buchanan-praises-segregated-black-schools-f/195555

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Well, I already knew that CSA and Brazil of those times were very much alike, you only reinforce then my thoughts about it.

But you did not comment further on how CSA was thus related to Libertarianism.

erp said...

Harry, what does Pat Buchanan have to do with me?

erp said...

Clovis: On what evidence to you make the statement that my physician friend will not retire as he says he will? This guy has spent his life saving lives including that of my husband.

His charitable work is legendary and there is nothing I know about that would lead me or anyone else to doubt his word.

Your statement is childish. I don't lose money on bets because I don't bet.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

---
Are you saying that physicians will all work till there dying day now?
---

Sure not. I've understood that particular one was promising to retire right when Obamacare kicks in.

But I sill bet that most of them will not retire earlier, whatever they say now. I know physicians too, I was born to one, the majority of them are workholics and will not stop soon.

BTW, what is changing for them after all? I thought Obamacare would make changes only on the number of insured people, what does it affect the service providers?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"I thought Obamacare would make changes only on the number of insured people, what does it affect the service providers?"

It affects everybody, massively. Our insurance rates are going up and our coverage decreasing because of it, and tens of millions of people are finding out the same thing.

Go a netsearch on "contraceptive mandate" for one example of effects on providers. Or look here for a stronger example of erp's point.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Clovis: OK, and if you do not succeed, what would be your next step?
AOG: None. I will work at that until I succeed or die.
---
Paraphrasing yourself, I find it mordantly ironic that a putative programmer would chain himself to an infinite loop.

I prefer to add an "if" in my program so I can still control damages. In this context, taking what was possible within a defined window of time, I still believe the patent solution was optimal.

You may argue about what is best in more philosophical terms in the long run like Bret just did, but sometimes we need to focus on the here and now.


---
You ignored the tax costs when discussing the benefits of the universal care, for instance in claiming cost reductions instead of cost shift (e.g., from the buyers to the taxpayers)
---
Again, I am aware of them. You, on the other side, is not aware of all the facts - and I do not blame you, we are talking about a country and culture you do not know.

So I'll give you another piece: by the time those medicines got in the market, many people were suing the govt. to have acess to them. And they were winning in court. The judiciary was clearly interpreting that the govt., through its health care system, was obliged to provide those life saving medicines to whoever needed them.

Again, try our shoes a little bit and think what would you do. The math is easy: it would need to buy those medicines at stinging prices or do something else. I tell you there was not, realistically - for political and court order reasons - the option of not buying the medicines, but you do not believe me.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

---
But over time, repeatedly and continually eating cake will make you fat and even kill you.
---
I must tell you I had a few good laughs picturing someone dying from eating cakes.

But I get your meaning.

---
I believe these little government market distortions [...] move people away from self-reliance towards government dependence...
---
I do admire your stoic position, and I believe it has a lot to do with the making of America's greatness.

But I also think times may be different. The qualities that help a country to be great at one moment may no longer be so useful later on, after vast changes in the world and its structure. Maybe our present world values and recompenses more collaboration and constructive interdependency, where to depend on other (government included) is much less of a burden than you believe it.

Or maybe not, and in fact this over-dependence signs indeed a future decadence. I am inclined to believe more the above picture than this last one, but in fact I have not much idea which one is closer to truth.




Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "but in fact I have not much idea which one is closer to truth."

It's impossible to know. One can only guess and predict.

However, I know which one I prefer.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

So I'll give you another piece: by the time those medicines got in the market, many people were suing the govt. to have access to them.

That's utterly irrelevant to whether you accounted for the tax burden of the universal health care in your analysis. As far as I can see, the government dug itself into a hole and, as is standard, decided to steal private property rather than stop digging. And you wonder why I'm a minarchist.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Except that govt. did not steal anything (no patent was broken), the companies got richly paid, and less taxpayer money was used than otherwise.

You show great difficulty to analyse matters in more practical terms when they fall outside your ideal conditions.

It must be a profissional bias in this sense. Real life is way uglier and messier than your everyday job.
[And no, this is not intended as a personal attack in any way, just me trying to understand your mind].

erp said...

Real life is way uglier and messier than your everyday job ... and it's even messier and uglier when a centralized government tries to control real life rather leaving it to us individuals to make our own choices.

Thank you for making our case for us again.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Fine, the government didn't steal, it extorted by threatening to break the patents. That makes it all OK.

You show great difficulty to analyse matters

Ah, yes, if I don't agree with you, it must be because of some mental defect on my part. Understood.

Harry Eagar said...

Clovis, one of the big economic disputes leading up to the civil war was between high tariffs to protect industry (in the North) and low tariffs to allow high consmption by farmers (in the South). This played out as free trade for the South, a libertarian position.

The South was already generally libertarian in outlook. So-called individualism was (and still is) praised as the highest, manliest virtue; so that the South had poorly developed or no social institutions. Education in particular was abysmal.

As one would expect (per Bret) this diversion of resources away from public goods had effects. They were the opposite of what Bret thinks occur when civic investment is low, but that is another story.

It will be too much to expect a coherent libertarianism to be visible in the South. For one big thing, religion had its own dire influence -- leading to antilibertarian currents like Prohibition.

As it worked out in history, the results were so awful for the poor people that they turned to Progressive nostrums. These they held (or many did) while simultaneously maintaining their libertarian mindset.

These days, among white Southerners, who have experienced some prosperity (but nowhere near as much as the rest of the country), the libertarian mindset, deeply embedded, is supreme, and the progressivism that, for example, welcomed the Tennessee Valley Authority, is eclipsed.

They do not recall how miserable they were before TVA. But my grandfather was born in 1860, so I am a generation closer to the history of the South than other people my age, so I know from (besides history books) direct family lore what it was like.

I had something more to say about this on my review of "The Road to Serfdom," which an be found by googling hayek + eagar + amazon and scrolling down.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Ah, yes, if I don't agree with you, it must be because of some mental defect on my part. Understood.
---
I never said so. I only implied you had bias, which we all do, so I was just speculating the origin of yours.


Erp:
---
Thank you for making our case for us again.
---
I am under the impression, Erp, that every time I describe something in the most honest way I can, you conclude I am making your case.

I try to not select only the facts that conform to my worldview, in the same way I can not ignore any experimental facts when trying to apply a theory in Physics.

Somehow, you always understand it as weakening my arguments. Otherwise saying, you think I must strive to win a discussion instead of pursuing truth (in whatever sense it is possible to pursue truth in a non-mathematical setting).

This difference of approach is what makes it so hard for you to ever change your opinion on the basis of evidence. Hence, Iraq had WMD and Bush is honesty in human flesh.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry:

Thanks for the lessons on your history.

What is the recent history of Libertarianism, though?

It does not look to be only restricted to the South nowadays. For example, most people I know of in this blog do not live in the former CSA states.

erp said...

Clovis: Google Syria WMD. Sorry I am really swamped for time.

When I say you are making our case for us, I mean you're arguing counter to your stated positions. It's not that unusual because the positions of the left are really untenable.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

You tell me about untenable positions after you read this:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/dont-let-the-government-get-its-hands-on-obamacare/

I ask myself if it may happen that many Libertarians are among the Americans who have no idea when they are benefitting from a federal program.


Annoying Old Guy said...

You're citing Krugman? Did we not already dispose of him?

I ask myself if it may happen that many Libertarians are among the Americans who have no idea when they are benefitting from a federal program.

I ask myself if it may happen that collectivists are among the many who have no idea it's possible to disagree with being ignorant or mentally incapacitated.

Do you ever wonder why you so frequently resort to this level of ad hominem?

I read Krugman's column and he's being disingenuous as usual. One example would be his rosy picture of state exchanges - others disagree. Or that 36 of 50 states refused to set them up.

As for rates, those have gone up massively and will continue to do so. Krugman mentions, in passing, that the system needs young people who currently don't have insurance to sign up. He gives no indication as to why they would do so, since it will de facto massively raise their insurance rates. But I see why you find him persuasive - just you like, he looks only at the benefits and never the costs, such as where the money for all those subsidies will come from, or how the need for young people is yet another way to transfer money from the less well off to the politically connected classes (e.g., people Krugman's age).

I have to stop or I'll go on way too long. The column is so bogus I find it difficult to imagine how anyone could take it seriously.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
You're citing Krugman? Did we not already dispose of him?
---
Insteresting language, "dispose of him". I thought people only said that in Mafia movies.

No, I do not think I should ignore him for the sole fact he disagrees with your views. Last time I've took time to analyse, you were the one confused about his arguments.


---
Do you ever wonder why you so frequently resort to this level of ad hominem?
---
It was no "ad hominem attack". I was only being sarcastic on the fact that so many Americans look to barely know (if I believe that reference) when they are using subsidies or not. I realize most people in this blog are way smarter than that, but since you and Erp like to generalize anything down here in "South America", I've returned the favor.

That said, I suspect that a few here, being enterpreneurs and "start upers", may well have already enjoyed govt. subsidized incentives in your business life. Or, as someone already pointed out in other thread, used public education and other public resources in life. Somehow like the attitude of Republicans who voted down food stamps when, at the same time, upholding huge subsidies for rich farmers. But I guess coherence is something I may prize more than others - or am I being ad hominem again, dear AOG?



---
Krugman mentions, in passing, that the system needs young people who currently don't have insurance to sign up.
---
I think the logic of that is quite clear. You need more people to foot the bill. As the prospect of raising taxes is impossible in present US politics, they've found this other way to make people pay for the public health system. It is an indirect tax in the end of the day. If I well remember, your Supreme Court did uphold the obligatory insurance based just in this same argument: it is within govt. powers of taxation.

---
But I see why you find him persuasive - just you like, he looks only at the benefits and never the costs
---
Not true. I made clear right above that I am quite aware of the costs. The difference is that I believe those costs are necessary for society to better function. You believe the contrary.

Maybe both beliefs are not even falsifiable. Yet, if we take the last 100 years - the period within the social safety net was built - and compare with the previous 100 years, I believe my point gets stronger than yours. See that my comparison covers in good part the period when you believe some form of Libertarianism existed.

erp said...

Clovis:
I believe I made it very clear that my knowledge of things south of the border is virtually nil.

We disagree on Pinochet and the fact that Chile has the most stable and prosperous economy in South America. That’s fine. People can disagree without declaring or assuming the other is evil or stupid.

Harry is the only one commenting here that presumes some special knowledge of things Brazilian, but then as usual, reverts to his default position that everything wrong with the world is a result of our founding fathers implied endorsement of slavery and evil Christians.

I said that Brasilia is a planned city because it was touted as such with great pride when it was built. (I was about your age when it was formally declared the capital). The pictures were of a beautiful stark city with all the then modern touches. I said that centrally planned cities like centrally planned communities, economies, etc. don’t work and you said that the people living there have learned to circumvent the planners’ plans to make it more user friendly (an example of you making my case for me). That individual people learn to cope with the foolishness of their governments I believe, but it can only go so far before draconian regulations and laws begin go into place to make that impossible which what’s happening here and now.

I ask again. Where in the world is there an economy that equaled or surpassed that of the United States as it was before the fascists took over?

WMD. I ask again, why if they were non-existent, did the U.N. have a program funded in large part by U.S. taxpayers as is a huge percentage of the U.N. budget, to trade Hussein’s permission for U.N. inspectors to verify that his WMD were destroyed for permission to pump oil -- very little if any of which was sent to the U.S.

What is your evidence for your frequent unsubstantiated and incorrect statements about conditions in the U.S. not only at the present time, but going back as far as a hundred years (even before my time!)?

Harry’s analogy of public schools, roads, etc. as analogous to welfare is ridiculous. People can cooperate to fund whatever they want. Public schools until very recently were products of towns and cities and were very different from each other. Those who wished to pay higher taxes for better schools did so. The inverse also being true. The history of state and federal departments of education is a disgusting one of overreaching and usurpation all for state or federal grants. If you’re interested Google it.
Roads and interstate commerce. Read the constitution and how it was also coopted.

This is a topic for a doctoral degree, not a comment string on poor Bret’s bandwidth.

So as I haven’t the time to give you citations, etc., this will be my final comment on this string.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

The difference is that I believe those costs are necessary for society to better function. You believe the contrary.

Your argument is that it will expensive but worth it, but Krugman's argument (such as it is) is that people will like Obamacare because it will be less expensive due to the subsidies. Which is the correct argument?

Harry Eagar said...

'People can cooperate to fund whatever they want.'

This is really funny, because up to Brown v. Board of Education, 'people' cooperated by not funding schools for black kids at the same rates as for white kids in the same community.

I know. My great grandfather was the first commissioner of education in South Carolina. The disparity there was on the order of 2:1 in favor of whites, and over time it grew wider.

erp's delusions about this are on a par with her misinformation about the US contribution to funding the UN. It is nowhere near 'most.' Laat time I check it was around a quarter.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

You look tired of the topic, and I respect that, but you made me questions, so I will answer. Please do not fell obliged to reply.

---
We disagree on Pinochet and the fact that Chile has the most stable and prosperous economy in South America.
---
We did disagree on Pinochet, but I did not counter your belief that Chile has "the most stable and prosperous economy" down here. On the contrary, I agree with you to some extent.

I have been to Chile, they are a wonderful country. They did benefit a lot from the Chicago school of economics (Free Markets!) that they've adopted since the 70's, their economy today is more functional than ours in many ways.

I only think the comparison must be limited - we are a much bigger economy than theirs, with a more complex dynamics. We also are a more complex society.

And, as far as I know, the influx of Chileans to Brazil was, and still is, much higher than the contrary, so their economy is not as fullfiling as you think.

About Brasilia, I do not even know how I could not make your case to you, since I've never disagree with you on that, to begin with.

---
I ask again. Where in the world is there an economy that equaled or surpassed that of the United States as it was before the fascists took over?
---
I do not even know what you are talking about Erp. Facists? Who? When?



---
What is your evidence for your frequent unsubstantiated and incorrect statements about conditions in the U.S. not only at the present time, but going back as far as a hundred years (even before my time!)?
---
I admit this is some of those things so self evident that I am arguing without looking for historical sources. Just almost everything I can think of about the past was worse than today. Sorry if that offends you, but what can you tell me you could do in the 60's that we can not do today? Now look for the contrary and see how much things are possible today and were not then. And I am not talking about technology (for it would be self evident), but about freedom of choices as a citizen in our society.



Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Your argument is that it will expensive but worth it, but Krugman's argument (such as it is) is that people will like Obamacare because it will be less expensive due to the subsidies. Which is the correct argument?
---

As I said before, I have no intent to defend Krugman here. But I will give to you what I understand about his arguments on costs:

i) He explicitely stated many times it would be more expensive for the higher income part of the population. And also for the young medium-to-higher income population, since they would in principle be able to get cheaper insurance before Obamacare, for they would not be obliged to share the same pool with older people.

ii) Due to the subsidies provided by govt. and the higher payments of the high income people, it would be cheaper for the lower income people. As they are the majority of population, his argument that "that people will like Obamacare because it will be less expensive" applies to the majority, which is what he means in that context.

iii) If I understand correctly (and I am not 100% sure here), he predicts that, due to the leverage Obamacare will have, unifying those many different health care plans, it will be able to extract more concessions from the many actors of the health care system, leading to lower costs of health care as a whole.

Point (iii), if I understood it correctly, is the reason I've told you that, maybe in future, you will also see your govt, through Obamacare, being more "coercive" to Big Pharma, and then you may understand my take on that whole discussion we had.


erp said...

Something costs what it costs and when something, for instance, health insurance is subsidized, it means tax payers pay some or all of it, not the end user.

By what method of calculation does this make it "cheaper"?

erp said...

I am not tired of the subject, I'm tired of trying to explain something in a little comment box to someone trying to solve an equation using faulty data.

erp said...

Harry, I wasn't going to bother saying it again. The students in those segregated schools learned to read, write ... Far different from now ... And the schools are still mostly black even with all the machinitions to the contrary. So exactly why are things so much better now for blacks not among the elites.

U.N. funding by U.S. taxpayers is quite a bit higher than 25%. You better look again although whose figures are to be believed. Certainly not the hate America crowd.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

None of that was in the column you cited, so why did you think it would be so persuasive as to make erp's position "untenable"? Why bring him up if you have no intent to defend him?

i) Did he mention it being more expensive for the young low income people? As he noted, all young people will be forced in to it including low income ones. For those buying only catastrophic or no insurance at all, that means much higher costs even with subsidies.

ii) Lower income people are not the majority of the population. Well, I admit that since the Democratic Party took over Congress and President Obama came in to office that's changing... With regard to "the higher payments of the high income people", the only argument in that vein Krugman made was about young people, so his argument really is "young people will subsidize everyone else".

iii) That's never worked in the past, it's hard to see why it will work this time. Look at the history of Medicare, for instance. It can work, to some extent, in non-primary markets (such as Brazil[1]) but not in the USA because this is where the original research is concentrated. What we are seeing, already, is the withdrawal of actors from the system (e.g., erp's point about doctors, and insurance companies abandoning entire states).

I already see my government, through Obamacare, being more coercive, resulting in higher costs and lower quality. It doesn't help me understand why you think that's a good thing, or why it justifies more of the same in the future. It is precisely what I mean when I say you don't account for costs. The government can't magically extract more value from the system, which is what is required for point (iii) to be correct. It will create costs and inevitably, because it's government, those costs will be much higher than the concessions.

Basically, I guess, it comes down to you and Krugman having a faith based approach, in ignorance? despite? of the historical record. I'm more of an empiricist myself.

[1] Although let's note that, according to Clovis, Brazil is now finding that the expenses are seriously damaging the budget.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Reducing costs already, apparently. I think we can see the real motivation of the people who implemented Obamacare, and it wasn't making things better for other people.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Driving providers out of the market, yeah, that should contain costs as well, because we know less competition means lower prices. I'm sure this will also help get more people insured, too.

erp said...

[1] Although let's note that, according to Clovis, Brazil is now finding that the expenses are seriously damaging the budget. ... and yet another instance of Clovis making our case for us.

Maybe it's something about arithmetic that eludes physicists. I remember when my son was in college, he managed his checking account by making deposits after he got a notice he was penalized $25.00 for being overdrawn. It drove his father, the CPA. insane.

Harry Eagar said...

Maybe it would clarify things if lifetime health costs were considered. Does Guy understand that a dollar save by freeriding today will probably mean many more dollars out of pocket later?

Evidently not.

erp, I understand you get all your history from Readers Digest but it is not true that a couple of generations ago black children got good educations. The educational level of older black Americans shows that today.

Today we have millions of black collegiates. We didn't use to.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

Does Guy understand that a dollar save by freeriding today will probably mean many more dollars out of pocket later?

Not even Politifact believes that.

erp said...

Harry, insults don't affect me and I wouldn't denigrate the Readers Digest. It's written for people with your level of reading comprehension.

I never said blacks got GOOD educations, I said they were taught to read, write, etc. Today that is no longer the case.

There were black academics and other professionals including physicians before the welfare state and affirmative action, and they were top notch.

Living as you were in the deep south where by your own description, life was similar to the movie, "Deliverance," you were out of the mainstream. In the big apple, I had black professors in what was known then known as city college. Not many, but back in the day, there were few other ethnics either including Jews, Italians, Poles, Irish ...

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
so why did you think it would be so persuasive as to make erp's position "untenable"? Why bring him up if you have no intent to defend him?
---
The "untenable position" I alluded to is that of people who bash Obamacare when they barely know they may be using it under another fancy name like Kynect. My comments afterwards did make explicit reference to the contradictory position of "subsidies are bad, except when for myself".

As for Krugman, I can not defend anyone but myself, but I can argue over what he said over the subject. My resume above was what I've understood after reading his take in many posts about Obamacare.

As for yout points:

---
i) Did he mention it being more expensive for the young low income people?
---
Preposterous reasoning. They have no money for a decent insurance; after Obamacare, they will have one for very low prices compared with before. And the ones who fdo not have money even for that, will be covered.

---
ii) ... the only argument in that vein Krugman made was about young people ...
---
I have no time to look for the link, but I am pretty sure of another post where he explicitely stated the higher prices for highest incomes.



---
iii) That's never worked in the past, it's hard to see why it will work this time.
---
False. Look to many countries in Europe, or Canada, their health indicators are better than yours, with a health care system with strong public component, and yet spending less than yours. You are that guy behind in class who refuses to accept his grade B-, while making ridicule of another guy back there with a grade D (Brazil, in this case). Why can you ponder our public health care system failures as reason to yours not to work, while ignoring the successful ones?



---
It can work, to some extent, in non-primary markets (such as Brazil[1]) but not in the USA because this is where the original research is concentrated.
---
I am a little at lost on this statement. If you mean that Big Pharma has USA as its primary market, and not the whole world as it happens to be today, you have been sleeping all the way through the last 30 years of globalization. No wonder you think you can turn the clock back and set up rules for your country as if it was 1800 all again.


---
I already see my government, through Obamacare, being more coercive, resulting in higher costs and lower quality. It doesn't help me understand why you think that's a good thing, or why it justifies more of the same in the future.
---
I never portrayed govt. coercion as a good thing, only as a feature (or bug) that appears when you try to extend health care to all of the population, the poorest included. It is this last thing (universal health care) that I see as a good thing - sorry if I happen to value human lifes - not the bugs that comes with it.

---
Basically, I guess, it comes down to you and Krugman having a faith based approach, in ignorance? despite? of the historical record. I'm more of an empiricist myself.
---
But an empiricist who ignores facts that goes against his worldview - explain to me how better is your health system compared to other advanced countries - is not that empirical, is it?

---
[1] Although let's note that, according to Clovis, Brazil is now finding that the expenses are seriously damaging the budget.
---
Brazil is a poster child for many of the downsides of a bloated, expensive and inefficient state. Had you more knowledge about us, you could be twice the Libertarian you are.

But I have seen enough, and thought enough, to conclude that not all of our problems are necessarily due to the state itself, but due to other cronic problems you have little idea about.

I truly believe that, had we not even that inefficient health care system in place for the more disadvantaged among us, we would be far worse off.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

i) No, your reasoning is preposterous. Krugman himself says Obamacare depends on getting young people to sign up. Why? The only reason is to get their money. Further, if they're not paying now, any cost will be an increase which means "more expensive".

iii) It's never worked in the USA. Also the health indicators are far less different than you think, being most concentrated in the under classes ghettoes that are the result of the welfare state.

explain to me how better is your health system compared to other advanced countries

It produces the most new drugs, new procedures, and provides the best medical care available on the planet. It is the engine that drives the rest of the world forward. While the poor don't have health insurance they still get health care.

I truly believe that, absent the massive welfare and regulatory state, the more disadvantaged would be better off than they are now. You seem unwilling to accept that other people can have a different view on this, e.g. "due to other cronic problems you have little idea about". Again the "if you disagree with me, there's something wrong with you" ad hominem. I think that indicates a defect in your arguments.

You have also failed to grasp my key point. It is not that I have no idea about these chronic problems, but that I believe government action makes them worse. Government doesn't start the fire, it just pours gasoline on it.

P.S. Try this for something better written and more fact filled than a Krugman column.

Harry Eagar said...

'It produces the most new drugs, new procedures, and provides the best medical care available on the planet. It is the engine that drives the rest of the world forward.

That isn't close to factual. Europe's pharmaceutical businesses have introduced many, perhaps most, of the most used drugs.

And Americans, by outcome, do not get the best healthcare. Or any at all for less obvious conditions.

Pay more, get less. Why do you regard that as an unbeatable outcome?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Turns out Obamacare is a bad deal for young people now and in the future. Who could have expected that?

Mr. Eagar;

Just like your preventative care "fact", I suppose. I can't be bothered debunking you yet again, although you could look at my link in my previous comment for it.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
iii) It's never worked in the USA.
---
I guess they do not make Americans as in the old times any more. Since
when something is impossible because it was not done before? Shoot to
the Moon, Guy.


---
Also the health indicators are far less different than you think,
being most concentrated in the under classes ghettoes that are the
result of the welfare state.
---
Yeah, I've heard health care was prime in Nazi Germany. Out of the
ghettos, of course. BTW, in the concentration camps they had the most advanced medical research, did
you know? Though it did not translate to a good medical care. It should, if I follow the logic you presented.



---
Clovis: explain to me how better is your health system compared to
other advanced countries
AOG: It produces the most new drugs, new procedures, and provides the
best medical care available on the planet. It is the engine that
drives the rest of the world forward.
---
Wow, you went a full Mumm-Ra:

http://youtu.be/KyiHozl3Hc0

(Sorry if the pop ref. does not ring a bell, there is a generation gap)

Now maybe you want to answer my actual question (about the whole
health care system), not about your medical and biotech industries, or
the excellent care successful people can have these days.


---
You seem unwilling to accept that other people can have a different
view on this, e.g. "due to other cronic problems you have little idea
about". Again the "if you disagree with me, there's something wrong
with you" ad hominem.
---
You look particularly troubled every time I suggest you may not know or understand something. But yourself did point out that you had little knowledge of Brazil. But if I repeat that, it turns out to be a
defect in my argument.



Now, on your links:

i) The first basically argues that the test is flawed, and your grade B- is fault of the wrong test. If you knew how many times I've heard that from bad students...


ii) There again you compare apples and bananas. For someone to say that some service is less expensive in situation A than B, it must be implicited that you compare situations where the service is being bought. To say it is cheaper no to buy any service at all is the trivial solution. Also, the "future cost" argument they give is half a fallacy.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I think I'll invoke Godwin's Law at this point. If you're reduced to comparing me to Nazi's, you've run out of actual arguments.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

It was intended as sarcastic joke, but it sure was uncalled for. I apologize.


Annoying Old Guy said...

Accepted.

Moving on, I would note that I'm not sure what links specifically to which you are referring. The Politifact link? Clarice's Pieces? Hot Air? The Hill? CSNS News?

I'll respond to that when you tell me why Krugman, in the column you linked, specifically states "the first and most crucial thing is to get the program up and running, with as many eligible people as possible — especially the relatively young and healthy — signing up". Why? Why especially the young and healthy?

My point about health outcomes is that it is very hard to compare apples to apples. My view, based on much reading and information, is that for a given person, their genetics, and their lifestyle, the USA has equal or superior health outcomes. In addition to that, it is (again, in my view) the primary engine that drives medical innovation and progress. That's what we pay for, and what will be lost if nationalized/universal health care along standard lines is implemented. I think that outcome would be worse for everyone.

Other people may come to different conclusions.

erp said...

Clovis:

Who cares about studies and statistics. You better than most know they can and are manipulated. Data that can't be manipulated are the data on voting with one's feet. Canadians as well as Europeans, Arabs, Asians ... come here for medical treatment.

Given the choice for your dying child, where would you go for treatment? The U.S., France, Canada, the UK, Cuba, Beijing ???

Yes. We would all probably agree on that choice.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

My comment (i) was directed to Clarice's, (ii) to Hotair.

--
Why? Why especially the young and healthy?
--
I believe I've answered it before: to help footing the bill. The way your public health system (Obamacare) was devised, based in contributions via insurance rather than direct taxes, leads to the need of a large base of people paying those insurances so it can work. As with every health insurance, cost-effective balance can only be achieved through right proportions of heavy users (older people) to light users (younger ones).

As I believe you know all that, I do not understand your point in asking so.


---
In addition to that, it is (again, in my view) the primary engine that drives medical innovation and progress. That's what we pay for, and what will be lost if nationalized/universal health care along standard lines is implemented.
---
I completely miss your logic here. You are adding more people to the system, meaning more money circulating, meaning more companies looking for this money. It should only drive more innovation, not less - or where am I mistaken?

Also, the fact that New John Doe is getting insured bears no relation with the fact that you, AOG, may get sick next year, right? You, and anyone else already insured long ago, will continue giving all your incentive to further innovation, by getting sick and requesting more and more new miraculous medicines, great doctors, and all that. So what changed?



Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

---
Given the choice for your dying child, where would you go for treatment? The U.S., France, Canada, the UK, Cuba, Beijing ???
---

First, I must say you've chosen quite an inappropriate example.

Second, I truly hope never need to deal with such a decision. But more and more Americans, faced with similar ones, have been chosing other shores:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/health/for-medical-tourists-simple-math.html?pagewanted=all


Third, the fact that you miss the mark of the present topic by so far, like AOG did before, indicates a problem of communication here. It may be my faulty English attacking again. Please, Erp, bear in mind that when I ask about your "health care system", the meaning is, broadly saying, to ask about "the general state of care of all the population, including its effective access to care and the quality of it".

So, I am not disputing who has the better doctors, the better hospitals or the most advanced technology in the world. I am disputing who puts to use their medical capabilities to the service of maximizing the health of its population.

It is in this sense that the USA is far behind many other countries, by sound research whose soundness is here questioned in very misguided terms.

In other word, Erp, there may be many rich Canadians, Europeans, Arabs and Asians taking their airplanes to excelent treatment in your contry, while many of your fellow Americans are not getting it themselves.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

So we agree that the system needs young people to sign up to "foot the bill". Yet you wrote "it would be cheaper for the lower income people". There is a strong correlation between "young" and "low income", which means you are claiming that the system needs young people's money while at the same time making it cheaper for them. Those can't both be true. So, will Obamacare result in a net transfer of wealth to young people, or a net transfer from young people? Especially in light of your claim "Preposterous reasoning. They have no money for a decent insurance; after Obamacare, they will have one for very low prices compared with before.". If they don't have money, how can they "foot the bill"?

You are adding more people to the system, meaning more money circulating, meaning more companies looking for this money. It should only drive more innovation, not less - or where am I mistaken?

Two ways.

1) "ue to the leverage Obamacare will have, unifying those many different health care plans, it will be able to extract more concessions from the many actors of the health care system, leading to lower costs of health care as a whole." So, is it more money, or less? You can't switch this around depending on the particular argument you're making.

2) The regulatory state that comes with Obamacare (and, in general, any universal health care system). This will actually be a larger cause of the stifling than the money, although both together will be devastating. It's interesting to note that your reply to erp is basically that since we, the USA, have been increasing regulation of medical care, people have started looking elsewhere for better. Could there, perhaps, be a causal relationship there?

the fact that New John Doe is getting insured bears no relation with the fact that you, AOG, may get sick next year, right?

Clearly not, but it certainly has an effect on the care I will recieve in that case, and my ability to pay for it. In both ways I will be worse off. As I have noted, and I provided previous links about, my health insurance and that of almost everyone else in the USA will be radically changed by this legislation. I will be paying more for insurance, more in taxes, wading through more red tape, and getting less care.

With regard to your comments on my links, I find those insubstantial. The argument that the test is wrong is invalid because you've known students who abuse that claim? Analogies may help with understanding, but they're hardly factual arguments. The argument about apples vs. bananas I can find no way to apply to the original article. What is the not buying option? Paying the penalty? When someone asks you to purchase a service, do you always buy it because it's invalid to compare that to not buying it?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:


About my link on NYT for Erp, I guess we are reading different words with the same letters. How can you interpret that:

"“We have the most expensive health care in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best,” Mr. Shopenn said. “I’m kind of the poster child for that.”"

"That is a result, economists say, of how American medicine generally sets charges: without government regulation or genuine marketplace competition."

... means the regulations are to blame for your overpriced health system?

Did you even read the link?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Shopen is simply wrong. First, the way you have "without genuine marketplace competition" is through regulation, so his statement doesn't make sense on its face. Second, is Mr. Shopen unaware of Medicare? There's not shortage of regulation in that regard. In fact, the excessive price he got quoted is due in large part to cost shifting from Medicare. Mr. Shopen might also look at regulations on health insurance which would also have no small impact. Third, his basic complaint was cost not quality, which makes his observation a non-sequitor. Did you even read the "supporting" arguments, or just that quote? And you accuse me of ignoring facts...

Beyond that, you misread my words. I stated a correlation between increasing regulation (Obamacare) and results like this. Your counter argument (beyond just quoting some guy), seems to be that "regulations" as a whole either exist or don't, they can't change incrementally and yield incremental results, which was my claim. That would remain true even if the health system in the USA had started out completely unregulated before Obamacare.

Finally, as I have noted again and again, I don't argue that government regulation is the sole cause of increased expense for health care. I argue such regulation makes the existing problem worse.

If you want a real life, illustrative example, look at laser eye surgery which is in fact nearly unregulated. The results, over the last couple of decades, are astounding in terms of price reduction and quality improvement.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
In fact, the excessive price he got quoted is due in large part to cost shifting from Medicare.
---

Really? Can you prove that? While doing it, please explain how he got an one order of magnitude cheaper treatment in another country with even heavier subsides to healh care (i.e. a much bigger "Medicare")?



---
Mr. Shopen might also look at regulations on health insurance which would also have no small impact.
---
Except in this case he was not eve using his health insurance.


---
I argue such regulation makes the existing problem worse.
---
No, you repeatedly state this as your core belief in life. It is different from actually "arguing" it.



---
If you want a real life, illustrative example [...]
---
So I did not give a real life example before? Mr. Shopen is an invetion of the NYT reporter's mind? Or is he one more ghetto citizen whose life deserves not much consideration? He did look too white for that, I would say.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Really? Can you prove that?

No, because you don't seem to react facts I cite, but just in case, start here.

There is a compounding effect where, because of regulation, health insurance covers many things that shouldn't be insured, that are regular and expected expenses (e.g., birth control). The best solution to that is health savings accounts and catastrophic coverage, which were of course outlawed by Obamacare (and I'm sure the bad results from that will be blamed on "the market").

Why it was cheaper overseas, I don't know. Possibly because some other government was specifically subsidizing that operation to help out the manufacturer. When you have such a maze of regulation you get some very bizarre results because of what and how complex things are regulated.

you repeatedly state this as your core belief in life. It is different from actually "arguing" it.

This is what I mean by not reacting to facts. I cite examples, I provide links, I make logical deductions, but you take all of that as I just "state" my belief.

As for Mr. Shopen and health insurance, that was all in regard to the statement of his you quoted, "without genuine marketplace competition".

So I did not give a real life example before?

I never claimed you did not. I offered a real life example of my belief, instead of just stating it.

Or is he one more ghetto citizen whose life deserves not much consideration? He did look too white for that, I would say.

Instead of being a Nazi, I'm a racist now? Is that the kind of factual and substantive argument you think I should emulate?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Clovis: Really? Can you prove that?
AOG: No, because you don't seem to react facts I cite, but just in case, start here.
---
I hope you realize your argument, paraphrasing yourself, is: "if you disagree with me, there's something wrong with you".

Let us temporarily accept, for sake of the argument, the link you show as right. Please pay attention to the shift it points to. It never represents not even 100% of the value of the product. A few thousand dollars of difference at most.

Now, if I am not mistaken, you look to blame the almost Hundred Thousands of difference in final prices offered to Mr. Shopen on an effect that could explain, by your own link, only 3% or 4% of that.

I know you are under the impression you are providing me arguments for your points. But you are not. At least, not sound ones.


---
Instead of being a Nazi, I'm a racist now? Is that the kind of factual and substantive argument you think I should emulate?
---
I am not accusing you of being either - although your question is misplaced, since Nazis were also racists.

I am being sarcastic not because I question your morals, but to point to a dishonesty of your arguments on that "ghettoes" phrase you first gave me. When you defend your health system by excluding the part of the population that makes your grade lower, you are explicitely selecting data as it fits your taste. I again apologize if that makes me less civil than I should, but you can blame that on my profession traits.

I could greatly enhance Brazil health status by focusing only on people who uses exclusively the private health system. We would have numbers close to most of the more advanced world. The city I live, for example, has HDI levels close to Canada or Japan. I hope you realize how dishonest I would have been, were I trying to play this trick.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

That's not a statement about whether you agree with me, but about whether you actually read my comments.

At least, not sound ones.

See, that's quite different from just stating my view. It's one thing to disagree with my citations, quite another to respond as if I never provided any.

When you defend your health system by excluding the part of the population that makes your grade lower

What if that's true and relevant? I thought it standard practice to try and account for differences in underlying datasets, to normalize them for accurate comparison. Is your view that demographically disaggregating medical statistics is a "dishonest" form of analysis?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Sure not, but if I tell you that your national soccer team is weak, and you answer me that is not true because you have the best goalkeeper, then we are not discussing, we are playing chicken game.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

That's very different because there is direct competition so we have a much more objective measure of overall success.

In comparing health systems, it's unclear if the goals are being counted the same way (see this report on infant mortality for examples of reporting differences and non-medical factors in the statistics).

Your argument seems to be that poor health outcomes can only be the result of not having a government funded universal health care system. I submit that's at least as ideological a view as mine.

erp said...

I didn't read your link, but I'm pretty sure to goes to an article or study saying that many people in the U.S. are seeking medical treatment elsewhere, India for example, for various reasons of their own. Again, you make my case of for me. They are CHOOSING to do this.

You have missed the entire point of Obamacare. It has nothing to do with health. Its purpose is to put private insurance companies out of business, so everybody must use the government system which in turn will destroy the best medical care in the world. Do rich people get better care? Not really, they may have better access, pull strings to get a bed in crowded facilities, but that’s true getting a table at a popular restaurant … Once, medical care is reduced to the lowest common denominator, we’ll all be at the mercy of the public service unions. In Obama’s world, there will be nothing but mediocrity available except for those who have the means to circumvent them just like your neighbors in Brasilia who know how to work around the planners’ plans to make things work.

IMO, there will be first rate clinics and medical facilities off shore nearby probably in Cuba where people who can afford it or can scrape together the money will go to be treated. It will be similar to now when people who want to have their kids educated pay taxes to fund the public schools, but send them to private school or if that’s out of their means, they home school them.

Did you know that with the advent of Medicare no private insurance company could, by law, write a policy for those eligible for Medicare? Also contrary to impression given in the media and elsewhere, it is not free, we geezers pay for it and it still only covers 80% of the charges, so we either pay that 20% out of pocket or purchase supplemental insurance. For instance, last year neither my husband nor I had major problems or surgeries, but our “free” medical care cost us more than $14,000 including our “free” medications. Since I take no prescription drugs, my monthly costs for the insurance far exceeded the actual costs

… and I know very well how it feels to have a desperately ill child. My daughter and son-in-law were severely burned a year ago this Sunday and had they not been air-lifted to burn centers in Boston hospitals, they wouldn’t have survived. Not a moment goes by that I don’t thank our lucky stars that although they will never be the same again, they are alive and all their parts including their minds are working and sincerely pray that you were able to find someone to help your little one.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

---
Your argument seems to be that poor health outcomes can only be the result of not having a government funded universal health care system.
---
I never said so. There are many examples of poor health outcomes even with govt. funded universal health care systems - I happen to live in one of them.


I will call your position - that unleashed free markets will naturally lead to the better outcome, even for poor people's overal situation - as the "leftover theory".

You (and Bret, by his last post) look to believe that a society that maximally produces will generate riches enough so that even the most poor will benefit from it in more complete ways than in "govt. driven" welfare systems, at least in the long run.

Knowing the little I know from your country, I can see why you believe so. What I can see also, and you may not realize from your position, is that you are much more the exception than the rule.

The rule is that, without regulations and external agents, richness and power tends to concentrate in the hands of few, who then rule everyone else by autocratic and exploitive means.

The balances and checks that made your contry the exception, present in your Constitution, are not the source of your luck as you think to be. In the end, a country is really a collection of minds and people, not laws, for they - the people - are the essence to maintain things and laws working.

I believe you benefit, to this day, from the settlement of a good community of people with the right mindset to make things work. And, what's more important, they've built a robust system of transfer of those traits to the next generations.

It may be that those characteristics are still prevalent. Or, like some here look to believe, that they are in decadence.

But if they are indeed in decadence, we have opposite diagnostics. You look to believe that state interference and excessive regulations are to blame. Even though you have been through a period with strong deregulation happening in every aspect of your society in the last 30 years.

I believe that, on the contrary, it has been this deregulation and further concentration of rich in the hands of fews that has been the source of changes from the Old American spirit.

So in the past, it could well be true that a private only endeavour in the health care system was working. Because your capitalism was more functional and less rigged. But now, as the corporate fury and concentration eats up everything, it may well be that a govt. hand must act to "level the playing field", as your President is fond of saying.

Otherwise, what you'll see is a society where wealth exists as islands in middle of poverty, with very little leftovers left to the little people.

All that to say: I believe that private only health care systems may well lead to healthy populations too. It may served you well decades ago. But it may also be no longer true to your country today. Notice the "may"s in my phrases, for I am open to the possibility that I am completely wrong.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:


===
[...] many people in the U.S. are seeking medical treatment elsewhere, India for example, for various reasons of their own.
===
Erp, they are not choosing as in choosing if you want to dress red or blue today. They are choosing based in differences of prices so huge as paying $10.000 abroad or $100.000 at home, for the same service.


===
IMO, there will be first rate clinics and medical facilities off shore nearby probably in Cuba where people who can afford it or can scrape together the money will go to be treated.
===
By all I hear, your present system - before Obamacare - was headed to be just that, a system where only the rich can pay for the on shore medical facilities. (I say it was headed to, not that is was alredy there).

My question may come as a great offense to you, but have you ever seen that Michael Moore movie, "Sicko"? You probably think it was a lot of leftist propaganda, but he presents many real life cases of people failed by your private health system. Were they all made up?!?


erp said...

Clovis: Michael Moore???? To quote the title of a book by a famous physicist, Surely you are kidding, Mr. Feynman?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I kid you not. If I can carefully contemplate the arguments of those with opposite opinions, why can't you do the same?

BTW, I own to him my not so high opinion of your former president, Bush the Second. Maybe you can learn a few things too about him.

erp said...

People go out of the country for cheaper medical care. It's normal for people to do whatever they think is best for them. Why is that a problem?

I don't know anything about Feynman's politics and I don't care. It's the book title that I thought was pertinent. Citing Michael Moore or Krugman shows you aren't serious.

There is no evidence that socialism brings peace and prosperity and there is ample evidence that free markets go a long way towards peace and prosperity. It's not perfect, but then nothing ever is.

That's the argument. Refute it if you can without using anecdotes.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I usually do not care for credentials, but it is rare to be called not serious for citing a nobel prize economist and the most prized documentarist of the last decade.

Now, Erp, you insist in framing anything in your old socialism X capitalism duel. It is over, Erp. You won, forget it, the world has moved on to other paradigms, get yourself updated please.

erp said...

We won???? Citing top leaders in their fields who are charlatans tells the tale.

Update to the new paradigm of crony capitalism which is fascism with a fancy new name.

No thanks. The left must constantly change its name because eventually even the most dense and politically naive figure it out.

You probably think that Carter, Gore and Obama deserve to be cited for their work bringing peace on earth because they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Well, Erp, I must concede that you made a joke of my argument.

I know little about Carter, but Obama and Gore Nobel prizes are indeed a non sequitur. Nowadays I wait for Nobel Peace prize annoucements just to have a few good laughs.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

BTW, Feynman was no leftist. He would hardly trust the govt. for anything smart. But then, he would hardly trust anyone else but him for anything smart :-)


There are a few things you said about Obamacare that do not make sense, Erp. As far as I know, very few things change for users of other insurances or for private payers. If I go to a private hospital in the USA, with as much money it can ask for, they will surely have a bed for me. What gives you the contrary impression?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Even though you have been through a period with strong deregulation happening in every aspect of your society in the last 30 years.

I think the last 30 years have seen a massive and unprecedented growth in regulations, despite some local reverses in specific industries. I've given you links on exactly this point in the past.

he presents many real life cases of people failed by your private health system. Were they all made up?!?

This is an example of comparing free markets to utopia, not real world alternatives. Is your claim that nobody would be failed by a universal health care system? If not, why can't I make exactly this claim about it? Where would that leave us, giving up on health care because it isn't perfect?

few things you said about Obamacare that do not make sense, Erp. As far as I know, very few things change for users of other insurances or for private payers.

Obamacare is and will massively change the health care and insurance for most of the nation. I've provided various links here on precisely this point. I can provide many more if you want. It's even changing the employment structure of the nation[1]. Only the very rich, government employees, and political cronies of Obama[2] will escape. One could make an argument it's changing the governing structure as well, as Obama unilaterally declares that he, and he alone, can decide when laws will be enforced, and who they will be enforced on[3]. It is hard to overstate the impact of this legislation on the nation.

[1] Netsearch on "part time obamacare".

[2] Netsearch on "obamacare waivers".

[3] Netsearch "obamacare delays" and item 2 above.

erp said...

aog answered your question, but I'll add that Obamacare is basically an unknown, except as I've said a few times, private insurance will be gone and replaced with ?

Reid admitted that it's just a precursor to a federal medical monopoly paid for by tax payers who will have no say over services.

Feynman doesn't sound like a guy who would have liked being told what to do or how to live especially by bureaucratic thugs wearing white coats.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Even though you have been through a period with strong deregulation happening in every aspect of your society in the last 30 years."

1982 pages in Federal Register: 58,494

2012 pages in Federal Register: 78,961

After dropping slightly and briefly during the Reagan years, regulations, rules, laws, etc. have increased relentlessly.

So no, there has definitely NOT been "deregulation happening in every aspect of your society in the last 30 years."

That's one of those untrue narratives that those who want yet more regulation put forth.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG & Bret:


The links you indicated before, on regulations, were mostly related to small things imposed on the little people. I am not talking about them, but about regulations on corporations.

As far as I know (or better, hear) from the USA, after the Reagan years the bank and financial industries have only received less and less control and regulations, something that ultimately influenced a lot in the last crisis. Not only them, BTW, but for example, I've consistently read reports accusing deregulation on Reagan years to blame for the excessive concentration of media companies, for example - they used to be more diverse and spread among many hands.

I do not think the Federal Register number of pages can really tell if the above is true or false. You can add a multitude of useless regulations out there and still let the big guys free as a bird. This is a principle of crony capitalism BTW, you hit the small guys with govt. to eliminate competition.


On Obamacare, AOG, you just did not answer my question, will they refuse me at the hospital?

What I did not see in many of your doomsday links was a simple comparison: I hear Obamacare is just Romneycare as implemented on Massachusets. Can you explain why all is well there?

erp said...

Clovis: How could aog know what hospitals will or will not do? Even if that was spelled out (it isn't), Obamacare has given out so many exemptions to his cronies and supporters, almost nothing about his health insurance scam is known.

The recent financial crisis was orchestrated through the CRA (Community Redistribution Act) and subsequent regulations which forced banks to issue mortgages to those it was obvious couldn't possibly make the payments. Famous anecdote of a farm worker in California whose monthly mortgage payment was greater than his annual salary.

You've seen too many Michael Moore "documentaries." Corporations aren't evil. Crony capitalism aka fascism is the evil. It gives preferential treatment and funds confiscated from taxpayers as was seen recently when billions of stimulus dollars went into the pockets of Obama supporters to be channeled back to him.

Four years later, the economy is demonstrably worse and the race/immigration issue has been stoked to the highest levels in my lifetime. A riot ala Egypt is the plan for our future so peacenik Obama can send in the troops to restore order while he wages a war in Syria to put his bros in power.

Time tested scenario. Works everytime.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I think it likely that if you had infinite money, you would admitted to the hospital.

As for Romneycare, I'll answer that after you point out where I have claimed all is well in Massachusetts.

P.S. As for crony capitalism, that is of course a big reason we're all libertarians. The only one to stop that is to limit the government's powers of economic intervention and regulation.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

Tell me, if I move to the USA and ask to buy an insurance, will it be possible to buy only Obamacare insurances, or can I just take whatever other insurance my money can buy? If the last option, you are not making reasonable affirmations here.


On the crisis, well, it is not factually right your point, but I will let it go, this string is too long already.


About corporations: they are not evil in principle. But they can evolve to be. Tell me please Erp, don't you feel a little duped by the fact that you are here crying about a few meager billions that will be spent with health care in years, while the Too-Big-to-Fail-Corporations pulled off a Trillion from you from one day to the other?

I would.

And better to refresh your memory: your beloved G.W. Bush gave away the first part of that treasury.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Please, give me then your take on Massachusets. For if they were going bad, I would have heard it between the arguments against Obamacare.


===
As for crony capitalism, that is of course a big reason we're all libertarians. The only one to stop that is to limit the government's powers of economic intervention and regulation.
===
That because your have this belief that it is the rules you've written in your constitution that matter. As I've argued a few jumps above, I believe it is the people.

So, if you take your present reality and just throw up to the air every regulation and govt. role you thing should go, you'll end up not in 1800, but in the New Feudalism. For the present big shots will buy everyone they need (and who are not bought yet) to mantain their position - and in the end, run over the constitution as needed too.

The paradox is that you still need a strong state to protect yourself from both the cronies and the rotten part of govt. too. I think this is the reality, IMHO, that Libertarians fail to grasp. (Although I may well be wrong too)

Bret said...

Clovis,

That got me chucking. You're pretty quick to move the goal posts.

First you wrote: ""Even though you have been through a period with strong deregulation happening in every aspect of your society in the last 30 years."

Then you wrote: "The links you indicated before, on regulations, were mostly related to small things imposed on the little people. I am not talking about them, but about regulations on corporations."

I'm not sure if you were attempting humor or not, but either way, I found it funny.

On the other hand, it exactly defines the problem. We little people are now just sheep, excluded from the political process, excluded from decision making in economic processes, and it is unfortunately more than a little true that we don't count as being part of "every aspect" of society. As a result, the government no longer has the consent of the governed, which essentially is the beginnings of a feudal society, or that we're well on Hayek's Road to Serfdom. To us sheep, the wolves and shepherds look very, very similar.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

===
I'm not sure if you were attempting humor or not, but either way, I found it funny.
===
Yeah, I did express myself in pretty loose ways. Look to the good side of it, you've got some laughs.

The "every aspect of your society" was a very misleading phrase. Or, if you remember that "every aspect of your society" I have access to, from newspapers, is the business related ones... for all the little rules you gave me before, as you may guess, would never be News that arrive to me.

erp said...

Clovis, I decry the situation where money is confiscated to be spent on crony capitalism. Billions and trillions were already spent to on the war against poverty and yet poverty is still around and very robust. More billions have been spent on Medicaid a red-haired step child of the war of poverty. Apparently that didn't solve the problem of health for the downtrodden either.

Your knowledge base about the financial crises is faulty if you don't know that what I said, simplified of course, are the factual facts.

Since Obamacare as we've saying ad nauseum is a moving target, nobody knows how it will shake out, but one thing's sure we'll be paying for it and getting less and less for more and more money.

Don't you get it. It's not the money. If I thought it was going to solve and problems, I might even support it, but using evidence of past initiatives as my basis of evidence, there's isn't a chance of that happening.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Romneycare - I don't follow it closely but word from people I trust in Massachusetts is that it is a growing budget disaster, avoiding immediate failure only because it's not as strong on the regulatory side.

Clovis' cost estimate for Obamacare: "meager few billion"
Actual cost estimate: $2600 Billion in the first decade. For now. Every estimate so far has been for a larger amount.

There is a big difference between a strong state and a big state. May libertarians would argue for limited government on the basis that a limited government can focus on and exert real strength in those areas it acts, rather than having so much responsibility that it can not be effectively held accountable.

will it be possible to buy only Obamacare insurances

Effectively, yes. In particular there will be strong requirements of coverage which are driving up the costs. My health insurance is being changed against my will because of Obamacare so I, at least, will not be able to buy the insurance I want, only want the government permits me.

Annoying Old Guy said...

P.S. Obamacare lowering health insurance costs? Not so much.

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