A right to be idle


#1

The right to be idle

In our system an employer gets to tell us what to do because the employer has more money. Its the notion that someone gets to tell us what to do because they have more money. Its arbitrary. One of the most important things that I hope MadeSafe and technology like it may enable is the right to be idle. Its an exception to parasitism not an enabler. The right to be idle is an indicator of self determination and volition. This notion of a “right” may seem a little stretched but think of it as a right to peace or to be left alone and not be interfered with. For it to be meaningful it should be without stigma and be dignified with adequate supports for life. Again the acquisition of money by talent or inheritance is still arbitrary and on at least that basis we generally reject the idea that money is totally liquid relative to power. We reject plutonomy or rule by money. We’d rather see money as command over resources or pent up resources or as coercive speech used in more of a stewardship role. Money may be loud but it isn’t meant to be political power or at least that was the issue democratic systems were meant to resolve. We don’t like like loudness for the sake of loudness or power for the sake of power or money for the sake of power.

With automation we should have the right to be idle as a kind of collective inheritance. We should be able to check out. We are of course not someone else’s property. This is possibly one of the present reasons for opposition to retirement or social security and why its attacked so viciously as its an exception to this rule of money being completely equal to power. That people with money should be able to tell everyone else what to do all of the time or basically nullify their volition or potential to form any kind of opposing will. It should not be a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Nothing brings democratic principles to a work place like having would be workers able to walk off totally taken care of without stigma permanently. And without democracy in the work place there is no democracy in life. Unions weren’t even close to enough of a solution even at their heyday.


#2

I think anyone has the right to be idle, but not everyone has the right to live off of others. There is a really good film that cane out in 2007 about the right to be idle called Into the Wild: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Wild_(film)

I and others want to change the relationship of employers and employees to something different in the form of Open Value Networks Open Value Networks and SAFE Network/Safecoin where the community, which includes you, decides on the value your skills bring to the table and which you are rewarded accordingly for.

I think this is just a form of laziness where one feels they can live off the efforts of another. Who maintains the automation? Until we have automation that is self maintainable who builds it (I think the concept is purely fictional and a dreamer’s paradise)? No one can have something for nothing in my humble opinion. We reep what we sow.

I’m willing to hear more and try to learn and perhaps change my perspective though…


#3

I’m going to look into this ‘resource based economy’ movement, not sure how much, automation fits into it yet. I get the feeling, there’s a trap built in there.


#4

While you can’t even choose to live on a corner of land without having to pay someone off, people will never be able to idle peacefully.

The law of rent dictates this. No matter how many machines we have, rent will increase to fill the gap.

States own all the land and by implication, they own us. Corporations may influence the state, but ultimately the state owns all of the guns and defines who can occupy where.


#5

No, that’s false.
Your employer does that because you want to listen.
Noone can force you to listen or to do what your employee tells you.

Why are these forums flooded with various ideological posts?


#6

You already have the right the to be idle. You also have the right to starve to death because of your own inaction. I do, however, have a major problem with people having to work day in and day out and still struggle to survive. In my opinion, it is the printing of money by central banks (and the resulting corporatocracy) that results in this situation.

Because people who support the creation of the SAFE network often do for ideological reasons which oppose the status quo. And they want to express these ideas.


#7

I agree on the causes, but that’s completely opposite from what @Warren was claiming. It’s precisely because of collectivism (that he’s marketing here) that a group of people can command everyone else what they should do.

That to me - as a SAFE token owner and freedom seeker - is horryfing. SAFE is the reason why I’m trying to escape from collectivism and these forums are riddled with posts by people who are trying to recreate the same thing in here.

It’s like asking why can the network tell your SAFE client what to do? Because its owners have the tokens. Which is unjust, so I suppose to make him feel good we should strive to share our tokens with everyone on the network? How is that going to motivate anyone to invest in resources required to provide services?


#8

@janitor No, I absolutely agree with you. There are a range of ideologies here, and I certainly see things differently than @Warren. Pertaining to what you commented on, the employer gets to tell you what to do because you voluntarily agreed to work for them, and to follow their directions, within the scope of your job description. And receive money for it. I see nothing wrong or unjust about that. So I think you and I are in agreement.

The first part of my comment was in reply to @Warren, while I simply answered your question. People here come from a range of different ideologies, I guess, and some will be collectivist. I am myself an individualist, and feel that these forums give us an opportunity to attempt to reason with and engage those we disagree with.

And yes, good point. Collectivism is not only the symptom/reaction. It is the cause also. The only factor that varies is those who pull the strings. I am as uncomfortable with the ‘many’ pulling the strings as the few.


#9

Not when every employer is more and more the same. We may not like it but we have automated ourselves out and the main driver of work is artificial scarcity and rent seeking. And we were never dependent from the sun or what beats out hearts or other people- try surviving infancy without other people- or being born.

Happiness is highly correlated with service and even in children laziness with illness. In the Scandinavian societies where work was truely optional without stigma volunteerism was the highest. Maybe they didnt know what they had and maybe they are starting to regrette its loss. True service has to be voluntary and I’d say a right to idleness is a pre condition of a voluntary life in society.

I am guessing the Scandinavian nations lost this because they didnt know what they had and there delegates got in a room with other deligates where their socities were judged weak or defensless for lack of the ability to coerce people. I think safe can take away the basis for such fear mongering asertions.

People seek this right in hunger strikes, in prison, in martyrdom, in wealth, in retirement, in monestaries, in suicide. Its time to grant it. We have evolved to that point. Its a requirement for cutting the cord on coercion. It the way to get off the first step of the pyramid where lives are driven by fear over biological needs with every sort of enclosure derrived there of. There is no place to run the problem had to be faced.


#10

@Warren Because you are somewhat unclear, I can’t quite understand where you are coming from. Are you suggesting that a ‘right to be idle’ means providing people with a basic income regardless of whether they are productive or not?


#11

If they want it, absolutely yes. But more then that pitting the backwards employer model againt it. If an asshole entitled employer mouths off the whole staff can walk off unlikely to be replaced by temps. It makes sure that the temporary existence of employers will be somewhat more useful and will put tax pressure on useless billionaires making them less useless.

Also, productive for whom? Themselves, society or a class of elites whose income and assetts should be taxed away or even just removed?


#12

@Warren Then I can’t support your view. If ‘society’ or ‘us’ are compelled to provide a guaranteed income to those who choose not to produce goods that benefit said society, I believe there is a fundamental injustice.

From my understanding of economics, though, the introduction of robots, and the adoption of a truly free market system would drive things to be so efficient that prices should continually fall, not rise. Note that this is in the absence of fiat currency (central banks printing money), and later in the absence of corporatist control of governments (preferably no governments). If prices continually fall, and robotics have replaced the majority of manual labor, it is likely that in the near future, people will not need to expend anywhere near as much labour as they do now, in order to receive the same real wage. In other words, in real goods and services, the amount we work to achieve obtaining them, should fall to lower levels.

We have a situation right now that is influenced by many coercive factors. These are not inherent in capitalism (which I define as free, entirely voluntary, human trade and production/consumption); they are rather the results of allowing a small group of people to preside over the way the system is implemented. Taxes/regulations are levied upon some groups disproportionately. The very existence of corporations or companies, and their legal and economic advantages, is a government creation (limited liability, shielding from liability over pollution/oil spills, involvement in writing regulations on themselves by collusion with politicians). And above all, the monopoly on the issuance of currency, and legal tender laws. These factors alone would be enough to explain the gap between rich and poor that we see, and the phenomenon where we see people working three jobs just to pay their rent.

How will we get to a situation where people will be unlikely to be replaced with temps? Are you suggesting that if people have a guaranteed income, they will be less likely to go to work and be productive? If so, I agree. Yes. That’s the problem. I think your outlook rests somewhat upon the assumption that the world economy (and the goods produced in it) consist of a pie, and the size of that pie is fixed. So when robotics/automation is brought in, it frees up labour, right? But the problem here is that people keep dreaming up new ways to be more comfortable, to have more stuff, to want more for themselves. Until this ceases, there will always be new avenues in which labour can employ itself. There are plenty of fields that, for the forseeable future, are not possible to automate.

Also, I would posit that the fall in the production of goods under this model would actually make things worse. Because less people would work, less of what we need to survive (foods/water/clothing/shelter/warmth) will be produced. Because they will be produced, their prices will increase. Simply because there will be less to go around. And then who gets hit first? The poor, as usual. The rich will be able to afford to buy up the remaining production, as is their right to attempt to provide for their own survival. When people are desperate (the poor), they have very little reason to sit around philosophising on political economy and justice, and very good reasons to have no compunction about filling the jobs that have been vacated. We need more, and more efficient, production, not less. If we reach levels of efficiency that exceed the growth in peoples desires for goods, then we will see prices fall, and thus, a life that is easier to live, through less required working hours to survive.

If an employer/capitalist/owner is doing their job in a free market, then they have created an entity (their productive business) that is catering to the demands of people in our society. They have formed an organisation that is producing things that people want. They are filling a need in society. In a truly free market, these are the only people that would attain success. Take, for example, food producers. If they are producing x amount of food, and people want x amount of food, is it not a good thing that these producers continue to exist? Or do you want them to fall over and disappear, simply because they are making money?

If the market was truly free, and thus competition was on a level playing field, many of the problems you cite disappear. Because the economy would be free to adapt in any direction demand dictates (in a truly free market), supply would, more closely, resemble demand. In other words, what people wanted our resources to be used for would be roughly what people would use them for. That’s the whole point of the study of economics; to study how to place the highest percentage of resources in the best possible uses, according to demand in society. Capitalists cannot produce things that people don’t, or will never, want. They may employ marketing schemes to convince people that they want them. But if the people don’t actually like them, even if they buy them initially, then their business will fail. It’s actually cheaper to produce things that people already want, and not have to advertise, than it is to produce things that people don’t want, and convince them that they want them, through marketing.

I don’t know where you get the idea that billionaires are useless. Surely you are aware that billionaires don’t sit around in their house with a giant stack of money? Their money is actually largely tied up in real resources; the productive capital (machinery/factories etc) that produces the goods that are sold to the people who want them. People are actually employed for these people. They earn income. Goods are produced by their businesses. This pushes the price of said goods down, because there is more supply. You don’t want people to have jobs? You don’t want people to have cheaper goods? You don’t want the goods?

Well, all of the above. They are paid for their work, so it’s productive for themselves. Society benefits when the goods they produce are sold onto the market, which makes them available for peoples’ use/consumption and lowers the price of that good overall. And the ‘elites’, or capitalists, or entrepreneurs, or owners, too. Because they had to previously forgo their own consumption, or alternative ways of spending their money, and decided to place their funds in a productive apparatus and attempted to create goods that people want. For which they are paid.

And it’s simply your opinion that their ‘income and assets should be taxed away or even just removed’. The only case in which I would agree with this, is where they have defrauded somebody or used violence (including government regulation and force) against somebody in order to obtain those resources/monetary capital.

Honestly, I see socialistic thought as kind of like ‘eating our own’. It correctly identifies the effects of the imbalances we see in society, but completely drops the ball on the causes. And then devolves into a cannibalistic urge to consume those we envy.


#13

The notion that what I am saying is collectivist and I am collectivist subjectivist and its horrifying to hear a person coming from such a perspective advocate for freedom- it must be a trick.

I know some may be thinking of “The Primacy of Existence,” and Rand. She wouldn’t be down with us being “dreamers dreamt by the dream and dreaming the dream.” I’d like to suggest Peter Russel’s 2004 “The Primacy of Consciousness.”

http://www.matrixwissen.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1149:peter-russell-the-primacy-of-consciousness-en&catid=315&lang=en&Itemid=80

I am not advocating the website but I like the earlier 2004 version of the lecture.

You get the sense that the more subjectivist collectivist non local symbolism is interchangeable with the super local where everything is superposed singular and individualistic in symbolism. Its like “the inner reaches of outer space” That is, the individualist/collectivist divide is possibly quite false.

I’d say that yes we are 100 percent responsible for our experience. Our personal self, our world, our bodies, our plots and narratives all amount to a mirror that reflects our belief about our self. Its a projective exercise, but I tend to think that peace with the self starts with service, that’s what breaks the mirror and intolerable sense of recursion and gets us beyond the prison of mere belief and restores wholeness.

Capitalism
Capitalism is programmed civil war, which of course isn’t sustainable post nuclear weapons. Under Capitalism lemming like elites will always run head long into French and Russian style revolutions. Through various forms or bribery most of a Capitalist society’s energy will soon be used up on trying to justify ill gotten gain and unjust enrichment. Even social promotion like scholarships will not correct this. The ability and the will by sheer numbers will always be in the 99 which will rightly feel oppressed and motivated topple. Its a blood letting, but its not sustainable. Capitalism results through inheritance in rule by the weak- the comparatively weak with a system and cultural underpinning that strips any virtue the would-be rulers may have. Its not a particularly democratic system its always trying to vilify power sharing as an extravagance or as dangerous. Socialism is a much better match for democracy but also prone to capture and corporate statehood.


#14

Are you suggesting I am being disingenuous or dishonest?

Although your sentence is almost incoherent (no offence, I just can’t make out what you are saying. Is english your first language?), I assume a) you deny being collectivist, and b) it’s horrifying to hear this said by someone advocating freedom.

Exactly what is not collectivist about advocating for others being required to provide a guaranteed income to people who are idle?

I’m not interested in Ayn Rand. I find some of her and her followers views to be quite repugnant. I am more a follower of Rothbard’s views, with some exceptions.

I’ll check out your link.

What assumptions lead you to this belief? Are you under the impression that I define ‘capitalism’ as the system that we now labour under? If so, we are just talking past each other.

The school of economic thought that I hail from (the Austrian school) contends that capitalism is the natural and normal course of human action. I am good at growing asparagus. You are good at catching fish. I want some fish, you want some asparagus. So we trade, based upon a combination of our perceived individual valuations of our respective goods. It is recognised that, because I grew the asparagus, that I have the right to retain or exchange this good. You have the right to retain or exchange your fish. Capitalism exists when this process is unregulated, unimpeded, and the use of aggressive force is absent.

So I think you are not describing capitalism. I think you are describing the system of control that is currently taking over the world and brings us such things as:

  • Patents (the use of, or the threat of, force, in order to compel others to cease production of a good one has invented) - Government-granted, time-limited monopoly
  • Taxes (the use of, or the threat thereof, to obtain fruits of production from producing people, in order to transfer it to other producers, or non-producers, such as politicians)
  • Regulations - (the use of force, or the threat thereof, in order to compel businesses to only engage in government-approved activities, and forgo others) which must, by logical necessity, be more damaging to businesses that are smaller and less able to comply, than to large businesses that often help to negotiate the regulations in the first place. This is a major aid in the creation of giant corporates and the shift of funds and resources to the higher levels of the pyramid. It also is a key factor in situations like the disappearance of family farms in the USA and elsewhere. You often talk about sponsored content. There are now only five major corporations in the USA delivering the majority of the news. If everybody was allowed their own radio/tv station, perhaps this would not be the case.
  • Minimum/living wage - (the use of force, or the threat thereof, to prevent the employment of people who are not producing goods that exceed the monetary value of these levels). If a person is producing $2 an hour worth of goods for a company, then a $3 minimum wage will, most often, end their employability.
  • Currency competition outlawed - (Central banks printing money to hand to their preferred beneficiaries, who then lend it to others). This is key, and cannot be stressed enough. This factor alone, I believe accounts for the majority of the inequality that we see today. This is the infrastructure of your aforementioned ‘pyramid’.

The system we labour under allows true ‘capitalism’ only insofar as it can vampirically feed off of it, and increase it’s own power. In a truly free market, compulsion would not be acceptable, and so these things could not be legitimately done. True capitalism consists only of a) respecting private property (legitimately obtained) and b) allowing all people to trade amongst each other without restriction or coercion (with the threat of force, or the presence of force).

If we can’t agree on terms, we are really debating thin air. I call the system we live under ‘corporatism’ or, alternatively ‘fascism lite’. It is most easily recognised by the close relationship or ‘marriage’ between big business and government/state power. And it’s why I argue that all State power needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Although it’s the best of many very poor systems, I still think we can do a lot better than democracy. It is the most often cited form of collectivism. It’s the idea that, with enough people’s agreement, we can limit the rights of those who don’t agree. Now, this produces both good and bad results. It produces good results when lots of people are thinking well on an issue (the introduction of civil rights). It produces bad results when they are not (the election of Hitler, the introduction of anti-gay laws in Russia, progressive taxation on the rich). It produces even worse results when those with power have the capacity to print money and influence media, in order to so frustrate the people on political matters that they become apathetic. Also when the legislators make so many laws that they themselves, let alone the people, have the time to read them all.

I don’t support democracy, autocracy, corporatocracy, monarchy, fascism, socialism, communism, oligarchism, minarchism or any other form of coercive control. The world I would like to see does not include this future.

If government is prone to capture, then why have one?


#15

@Warren Then I can’t support your view. If ‘society’ or ‘us’ are compelled to provide a guaranteed income to those who choose not to produce goods that benefit said society, I believe there is a fundamental injustice.

I hear that but its not a Mexican stand off in a small room where we are going to have to support each other by feeding other people our fingers and toes. Its more like we have infrastructure that is hopefully allowing any of us, key point, any of us to check out at will. And in doing so we can expect not to be fed soilent green.

I don’t disagree with the reasonable expectation in the economic understanding and I recognize that on one level it may seem we work so much to enjoy the fruits of so much technology but to me there is no way the same technology despite the crowding shouldn’t have already freed us from spending double the amount of time at work (in the developed world with Germany as an ironic exception) we spent in the bush prior to language and tools. Its the point about about rent seeking and broken distribution.

I think we also agree on what trade could be and a lot of where it might not be working out. Especially if we agree the poor get taxed disproportionately and in ways that are indirect. Taxes although highly coercive are not automatically evil for me. An alternative is needed, but one that checks the abuse of money and its conversion to raw power. And certainly we shouldn’t elevate business or trade in school and make it about teaching enclosure and foreclosure techniques.

How will we get to a situation where people will be unlikely to be replaced with temps? Are you suggesting that if people have a guaranteed income, they will be less likely to go to work and be productive?

It just that people wouldn’t be compelled to do work that is undignified or dehumanizing. I don’t think I am coming form a fixed pie perspective. I like Fuller’s perspective that we could have a world where everyone is a billionaire living in perfect ecology. Fuller was I understand a pretty deep ecologist and I am presuming would have been very aware of energy dump and heat build up arguments and just found them not valid. Do we think Donald Trump could give Bill Gates orders? On what basis? The right to be idle is about a society of equals and not being over a barrel on need. It means we take non coercion seriously. Its a permanent devaluation of a core aspect of money, the aspect that dehumanizes and strips our volition.

The rich will be able to afford to buy up the remaining production, as is their right to attempt to provide for their own survival.

The position of the rich in society must be seen as a luxury, an extravagance. Once social mobility stops as it does under historical Capitalism and has apparently stopped in the states, well its not even that, its an embarrassment. If the rich as a group under capitalism could contribute they would actually have skin in the game (not talking about charity publicity stunts that attempt to put a face on things, or loss leader types like Thomas Edison) and would understand that in a crisis their assets are liquid and subject to confiscation, vice useless socialization of risk and austerity which bring on revolution. But they think (with important exceptions) the point of society is to protect them above all and this hypocrisy incites melt down.

In a truly free market, these are the only people that would attain success.

A zero sum society of winners and losers isn’t good enough. But I think we agree on that. Despite my rhetoric I have nothing against honest business. If people are genuinely doing their best to help one another I begrudge them nothing. I also care nothing about how rich people get. I feel personally I could be happy with almost nothing or nothing. If another person needs a mountain to be happy. I want him to have the mountain. Where I reflexively object is when the means selected ruin everyone’s chances for happiness rich and poor. I also reject the idea that we need extreme differences in wealth, but would accept that if it some how that was better in terms of people’s experience. We intuitively know its not and also that it leads to breach of the peace.

I wont’ argue with that. I am not enamored of some of the terminology of the ‘free’ market, but when you qualify with truly free in terms of level playing field, that’s much better. I am always for level playing field, but I think markets have to be tended like gardens and who is qualified? Hopefully they can be automated. But you could say current Wall St. is now an automated market and its best described as rigged. We can do better, we have some examples of what not to do.

There is an opportunity cost here that I think is key. Again, if some people’s billions make everyone better off, that’s fine and that part of proper tax progression and loop holes. But to me its not their money generally. Long before it became a billion it ceased to be about their blood sweat and innovation. They certainly didn’t generate it and at best steward it. So no, that money and its control would be better in the hands of for instance wholly employee owned firms. And apparently as in Thomas Picketty’s book after about a billion it grows at 10% a year or so almost no matter what they do. They become rent seekers almost all- again with important exceptions being possible. In short, against opportunity cost they aren’t an efficient or effective use of societies wealth and societies have been much better off without them. Who wants trillionaires but we are trajectory toward that nightmare and that does fix and shrink the pie and create a power crises.

There are people who are full of passion and would work for free. Jobs after about 6 billion stopped taking money, possibly in part to tell Wall St. he wouldn’t be pimped by them. Someone like Elon Musk might put such private money to good use. But a billion is probably a good place to cut people off and say every bit of asset and income in excess will go to taxes. I do the same for firms at some arbitrary amount like 50 billion- stop all the merger nonsense and create some firms that offered product at cost even if that was hard to compete with and had beneficial very long term horizons.

That’s fair enough. I am sympathetic to founders and their being supported by society and honored. No issue there. Its more inherited or ill gotten wealth that is used in ways that hurt people that I think needs to be limited by tax and chastened by tax until we can find away to do away with money and tax.


#16

@gibbons934

It seems there is a lot more agreement than disagreement. But on progressive taxation. I get that part of the issue is over who is going to be the Solomon that figures out what these rules should be. Should it be the wisdom of the crowd- I get that but under working progressive taxation the wealthy, if they do productive things with money (defined in terms of what’s approximately in the public interest- again hard to know with precision) keep control of that money. But given that money is power if they do things that hurt people they miss the loop hole and lose it to taxes. And it is not so much for greed but for the abuse of power that they end up with a sentence. That’s the theory. But then I don’t see excessive wealth as that much of a good or motivator after a certain point.

And again the right to be idle is just the idea that we must derive some benefit from society and to me that is one of the primary rights. One might say its equivalent to making the claim on society that if I so desire I can be set up instantly and at will a complete off the grid Jeffersonian homestead. Or go off the grid, despite whatever society invested in me, as if I disappeared into a permanent red light zone where no further claim could be made on me. To me if society means anything part of it is right to check out of its demands and have a way to walk away from compulsion. And if everyone signed up we could shut down all or most of what counts for society, but I’d presume that wouldn’t happen.

Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” is a problem in a way that goes beyond the nationalism. Society must return more to the individual than the individual gives or its a burden that isn’t worth it. I don’t think its even a balance here. But working societies do return more. I also don’t buy that rights imply duties. I think that’s slippery language like treating equally situated people equally instead of stressing intrinsic equality. Its like corporate rights, or the needs of the Navy- Navy has no needs. Its a stretch. Right may imply duties, but those duties should be of a very limited or non existent nature. Still supporting people in checking out makes sense to me whatever we call it. But I am ok with imposing on society and making health care a right and making retirement a right. Hume made a mess of the notion of rights, but if they have utility they pertain to our psychological, physical and spiritual needs.


#17

I don’t think I was suggesting such. I’m more saying that we either have a principle, or we don’t. Do you have right to the fruits of your labours? Do you have a right to your private property? If so, then being mandated to provide anything to others, besides your children (which you chose to have, or your actions produced), would seemingly violate that principle.

I think you’re right here when you point out that, already, our lives should be less burdensome. The way I see it, there are two main problems: a) people’s ever-expanding desires, and b) the money supply. I think people’s desires will always expand as technology develops and more activities and products become possible. But I don’t think this accounts for much of what’s happening. I think the rate of technological development, particularly in the last 50 years or so, should have reduced our working hours markedly, in order to achieve the same rate of output. People’s desires have indeed expanded, but I can’t see how they could have expanded enough to account for the fact that many are now actually working far harder than they did before.

The issue with the money supply is core. Let’s say there is x amount of money/currency/fiat in existence, and that the general price level is y. If the money powers decide to double the money supply, those they hand it to go around the economy buying up goods and services, land, resources etc. Oh, and loaning it to everyone also. The point being that they spend the money into the economy before prevailing prices have adjusted. After the initial spend, though, the prices do adjust, due to the perceived increase on demand, and the smaller supply of whatever they purchased. At this point, even though this printed cash has made it to the next layer of people in the chain, all of the money is now worth less, as prices are higher. So whoever is positioned closest to the peak of the pyramid, benefits relative to everybody else, and, over time, end up owning a greater and greater share of the economy. This is, I believe, the primary cause of the growing gap between the rich and poor. Unless this is addressed, and I believe it is being addressed (Safecoin, Bitcoin etc), then the pattern will continue and worsen, into a ‘French Revolution’-style catastrophe.

So I don’t have much of a problem with the distribution of wealth, when it comes to business. But these guys have gone one level higher, and illegalised money markets outside of their control. It’s a fixed game. No form of freedom or economic system will survive a takeover from it’s core of the medium of exchange.

I definitely agree with this. The powerful (not necessarily the rich, but usually. Rather the connected) are in control of the rules of the game. Indirect (non-apportioned taxation) is the most insidious form. Here in my country (New Zealand), we call it Goods and Services Tax (GST). There are many other forms. There’s also the issue that when you tax a company, that they will simply raise their prices as much as they can, so essentially the poor and working/middle classes end up subsidising the growth of government, and the capitalist continues to earn profits, regardless.

Coercion is the evil, to me. Taxes are but one of many phenomena that are made possible by legitimising coercion. Again, we either have a principle, or we don’t. Is it immoral for me to employ force against an innocent party, in all cases? I believe so. If I don’t have that right, then I can hardly delegate it to government to exercise for me. And if we don’t delegate rights to government, then where do they get them from?

I think you are right that we need an alternative. But when you say ‘abuse of money’, I think this only makes sense in a world where coercion (use or threat of force) is tolerated. In a free society, there’s not much I can really do with money, except spend it. In a society where force is tolerated, I can use to wield or influence the use of that force. Absent that, I can’t see how we can place judgements on the legitimacy of others’ use of money.

And your comment on education assumes that ‘we’ are funding it, probably through taxes(?). Otherwise we can let the privately owned school decide what they want to teach, in whatever priority they want to teach it. I do agree that university (at least the one I went to) is little more than the teaching of selective information and world-views. And am not happy with the general state education.

I’m not sure I completely understand you here. Perhaps because I haven’t read what you have, and lack that perspective. From my view, though, people aren’t slaves to the economic system. They are slaves to their biology. People require food/clothing/shelter/footwear/warmth to survive. They can either choose to provide those things for themselves, or they can work to earn money in some form and purchase these things. I would agree, though, that freedom is significantly curtailed by things like property taxes, which mean that even if you put all your money into living off-the-grid, you will still need to pay somebody (a government) to continue to have the right to live on your own land. Not many can even live off-the-grid completely alone, as tools wear out and need to be replaced, but communities can do it. I have a great respect for communities who choose to do this, whatever their ideology. There is no force or coercion involved, and I believe we need to press for ‘living’ taxes, like property taxes, to be removed.

I don’t see why it must be seen this way.

Again, I would contend that these systems were, over time, moving towards capitalism, but were not actually capitalism. I agree that social mobility has slowed, with the richer portion of the economy now nearly impenetrable to most. But I read a great article on the facts about social mobility recently, that claimed with good evidence that it has not stopped, and does carry on.

I can’t abide that kind of action (seizure of people’s property). Socialization of risk is to me another cost of government. It simply wouldn’t exist absent a coercive central entity. Austerity, if you mean it in the sense of cutting back strongly on social spending, again is due to the fact that these social programs are being provided by a government in the first place.

Can’t argue with that. I have zero love, and some quiet hatred, for those wealthy people who wield power and influence through the organ of government.

I’m glad to know you don’t have anything against honest business. I often find myself thinking about how much of this kind of argumentation centres around a very small group of power-players and mega-corporates, and their lapdog politicians. The majority of people in business (well over 80-90%) are normal, middle-class people doing honest work. But a fair portion of the very rich are also.

I also don’t think that we need extreme rich and poor. Certainly not poor. It makes no economic sense to have a smaller market for goods, because some people cannot afford them. Austrian economic analysis shows that large corporations, rather than taking advantages of economies of scale, actually find it very hard to expand in a truly free market. They would get to a certain size, and then have trouble. Much of the problem, once again, centres around the preferential finance they receive from the central banking system, and their ability to shut out competition through influencing government regulation.

Part of the problem here is that for a few decades now (1980’s to the present), we have had statists and corporatists gallivanting around the world proclaiming themselves for ‘free trade’ and ‘free markets’, and then making preferential deals which lock countries into trade pacts that are anything but free. The work I, and others in the Austrian tradition, have to do to break through this seizure of sane language, has become much more difficult. In my mind, and the Austrian tradition, anything other than a level playing field is immoral. This does not mean that we attempt to elevate people to equality, or that we require that people must all earn the same, or some such. It means that nobody is treated preferentially under the system that sustains. No small business should be unduly effected by regulation, where a large one can sail smoothly. Nobody who can afford to register an LLC (limited liability company) should be able to shield their assets from seizure or compensatory action, should they cause an environmental disaster, while small businesses are forced to comply with regulations. It’s not hard to see how this causes an imbalance and inherent advantage for the super-rich. The big fish simply eat the small fish. Unacceptable.

I don’t think markets need to tended like gardens, except in the case of contract enforcement and the protection of private property. I think private arbitration services could well achieve this, with all parties voluntary to the process. Trust and reputation are important things when you can’t resort to compulsion or competition-killing regulation. Oh, and yes, Wall Street is a farce.

Who is to judge whether their money makes everybody better off or not?

How can you claim that? Can you justify this? Did they not own the original, say, 2 million? If they put that money into machinery, and that machinery, with the aid of paid workers, produced goods demanded by society, why should they not receive remuneration? If they choose to continue the re-investment of those funds into further machinery to produce further goods, how is it that they “didn’t generate it”? Certainly they didn’t generate it alone, but they paid the workers to help them produce those goods. So they aren’t the only people to benefit from it.

This might be the case, but whether it is ‘better’ or not does not establish the morality of seizing it from them.

How? If they lend it to someone, then that person pays them for the inconvenience of not being able to spend it themselves. If they invest it, they are helping more goods to be produced. Why shouldn’t they benefit from the use of their own property?

It’s not society’s wealth. It’s theirs. Provided they earned it in a non-coercive, voluntary way. Society is a concept, nothing more. It describes a grouping of individuals.

I agree. They wish to remove the capitalist system itself. And have successfully convinced many that capitalism is the problem, rather than their distortion of it.

Good for them. Well done to Steve Jobs. Voluntary choice. No problem there.

Big problem here. Particularly because the printing of money constantly changes the meaning of the static figure of ‘1 billion’. I’m old enough to remember when millionaires were the big talking point. 10-20 years later, billionaires were all over the place. But if you adjust the dollar values for inflation, then you find that they are indeed richer, but not as much as by the raw numbers.

And again, these businesses are the owner’s property. Who are we to put some arbitrary limit upon their ability to expand? I would also contend, from an economic perspective (rather than a moral one), that nobody is smart enough to know how big a business should be. That would necessitate having the perceptive powers of an all-knowing god. The economy is simply too complex to make these judgements. And the necessary measurements would need to take place in every single human mind at once, since the entire economy, from top to bottom, is based upon people’s valued ends. This is a form of price controls, and caused havoc in the USSR. Again, analysis can show very clearly that companies would very likely not reach this size in the first place, without their current tools of captured government power.

Is it wrong for me to want to leave the proceeds of the efforts of my life to my three children? Is it necessary for them to have to start from some central planner’s idea of how much I can leave them after my death? Is it not my property to do with what I wish?

Ill-gotten, absolutely! I assume you mean via fraud or force.

‘Do away with money and tax’ - we can do away with tax if we transition, first to local governments, then to no governments. Notice this does not mean ‘no governance’. Just no centralised government. Why would we want to do away with money? Particularly if we allow market competition in currency. The people can choose what they use.

Yes!

I dispute that money is, in itself, power. It is purchasing power. The problem that we have, then, is that power is available for purchase. Again, why I reject the idea of governments existing. Also, in the current system (or in a small government-type system), how this power is utilised is decided by those with power in the first place. As you mentioned with ‘Solomon’, with the wrong people in charge, those who expand, and those who are limited, may not be your cup of tea. And I would argue that this is exactly what we already see.

But I think the point that I’m making, is that do you really have the right to derive some benefit from society, if you are not contributing to said society? Thats kinda the point of my comment. People who are idle are therefore not contributing to society. Why should the individuals in the society who are contributing be compelled to provide them anything?

This I can agree with entirely. I had no choice about whether my society ‘invested’ $100,000 in my education (when I was a child). Why should I be compelled to repay them when it was mandated that I should receive this education in the first place? Imagine if the local burger joint came to your house each night, and handed you your burgers, and then annually sent the ‘Burger King Revenue Service’ to your house to collect your contribution. What if you were a vegetarian? What if the law prevented you from exchanging or selling those burgers? The point I’m making (as you probably realise) is that the ‘services’ we receive from government, are often not even desired. If they were desired, why would they need to be mandated?

Yes, definitely. You should be able to ‘opt out’ of the ‘social contract’. Although I never opted in, so…

I totally agree with this. The wonderful thing about the market (at least the free market) is that when somebody makes an exchange, both parties gain. Clearly, both parties have to be voluntarily engaging in the transaction. Here’s how: You have an apple. I have $500. You want my $500 more than you want your apple. I want your apple more than I want my $500. So we exchange. We both walk away feeling like we gained from the transaction.

I used $500 in that example to illustrate the point that value is subjective. The term ‘exploitation’, for example, I find meaningless, except in the case where force is employed. For a real world example, consider sweat shops in East Asia. I read an article recently that did a follow-up on what became of the workers in some of Nike’s sweat-shops, after well-meaning Westerners denounced their existence and campaigned for their abolition. A large percentage (upwards of 70%, I think) ended up in prostitution. Many of them children. Absent the use of force to make them work, why were they there in the first place? Because they valued the meagre pay that they would receive more than they valued the alternative. There simply was no better option, from their viewpoint. Not many could argue they are now better off. There’s maybe less shoes in the world. And some more satisfied paedophiles. But we stuck it to that dirty, exploitative, Nike, didn’t we? (Disclaimer: I would, in Nike’s shoes (!), pay an ethical wage to my workers. I am not excusing their behaviour. But we should still tread lightly.)

Anyway, I got off-point.

Agreed. It only really develops when we start to do things like build roads, healthcare, education, etc. Once people have to pay your way for you, it kinda pisses them off when you don’t bother to lift your arms once in a while and produce something. Kinda fair enough. But then, I don’t consider any of these things ‘rights’.

I would settle for allowing people to check out. Making healthcare a right means you are giving someone a right to someone else’s labour. Retirement (the cessation of work) is already a right. As is being idle.

The subject of rights is an interesting one, I think. My particular view on rights is that:
a) I have a right to my life
b) I have a right to attempt to sustain that life
c) I have a right to the fruits of my labours, providing they are legitimately obtained

In my view, all other rights flow from this. Because I have a right to my life/body, and a right to attempt to sustain that life, then I have the right to defend myself against aggression, with physical force. Because I have a right to the fruits of my labours, I have the right to not be taxed. I do not, however, have the right to the fruits of someone else’s labours, as they have a right to the fruits of their labours. So I do not have a right to healthcare. I also do not have a right to live my life boozing and partying, and then expect others to fund my elderly years. I do have a right to save and prepare for those situations. And I am.

One fundamental problem with what I have just stated, is that, with the system set up the way it is, my efforts may come to nothing, regardless, while some smokestack corporatist filches off my efforts by diluting the money I’m saving. And force is the problem. Not the solution.


#18

Wow, you two wrote long posts sometimes :wink:

I think defining terms is key to most conversations when we find ourselves on polarized ends of this discussion. I love true free market capitalism with its invisible hand. What we have now (in the states at least) is nowhere close to capitalism. In fact it more closely resembles socialism in that the state props up it’s centralized institutions so they can not fall as they would without such support. I like your back and forth, except perhaps it’s length at times.


#19

Haha, yeah. I ended up replying to two of @Warren 's posts at once, and then ended up writing a heap. I think it’s the reason why this stuff is not so mainstream; it’s hard to sound-bite and takes rigorous logic to prove the point. The debate stage can be good, although people often use ridicule against marginal ideas.

Agreed. Although then the pure socialists will claim its too capitalistic. And they’d be right, frankly. The USSR was a great example of through-and-through socialism (although only early in it’s history. Lenin abandoned the banning of money and markets upon finding that nothing worked, period). What many people don’t see is that the structure of Socialism is corporate in it’s essence. A bunch of elites sitting at the top of a power structure dictating the price and production level of everything. It’s the ultimate form of economy-wide monopoly.


#20

@gibbons934 You took the words from me. I wanted to mention that all the way up to the fall of East Germany the communists were still trying to carry out the Marxist program of abolishing the State, money, markets, and contract. But as you point out, they ended up having set backs and having to re-instate these traditional implements. Along the way to the goal of eliminating the state they always ended up with an ultra statist solution. Ends never progressed beyond means. I think under Lenin in the 70s in places like Cambodia it was a crime to be caught some place with out two other people because they had to be able to report on you.

On the planned economy front, I do respect what both of you are suggesting that we have never seen an unfettered situation. That would include the Mercantile period as it was still essentially feudal or markets in the service of overlords. Nor apparently in ancient Greece where they in part justified tax in part on the basis of getting people to trade to keep the peace. Not under globalism, either prior to WWI, nor in our present situation where pure competition or a level playing field is thought to exist only between liquor stores.

But even Nixon tried the planned economy of trying to fix prices during the cold war. A resource based economy seems to be a planned economy. Every economy seems to need some planning just as a part of logistics, but I guess its decentralized or distributed planning. I’d point out that it is possible to prevent costs from being passed along as demonstrated by the CA insurance market. The issues is you have to find an in-place market that you can enclose. I don’t know that without deception and state coercion you can get businesses into that situation. Presumably they need to be over a barrel on sunk costs and cognitive dissonance over leaving the market or its just a fleecing and debt inflator. This might be part of what the cable/telecom industry is afraid of when they talk about a trillion of risk capital. But they are trying to cash in and make up for the dot com bubble in an all-the-market-will-bear kind of way.

Proudhon, if I am not mistaken, was the one who said that Communism was the weak ruling over the strong.

“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.”

One of his contemporaries proclaimed: " QWe know what law is, law is crime!"

First principles:
Now here I would prioritize actions or labors and children (their labors) over property. And I don’t agree with draft or children (infantry) in wars their parents or they themselves don’t agree with (or was this a reference to Social Services type intervention?) I think Locke and Nozick are close by. It seems Locke said something like my tools are a component of my subsistence and to reduce them is tantamount to reducing my person or disabling me so that my property is like an extension of my person and to to take it or thieve it is like murdering me bit by bit. Now that’s a hack job but my concern here is that property, unless we want to admit that incumbents have won the game, is not as valuable as free action or not having it bound up in the present or the future by for instance the draw of incumbent wealth and binding contract/enclosure. It looks like a trap to conscript people with contract. Admittedly its not an issue where there isn’t really scarcity as in the virtual or if we can get off the planet or into other dimensions or develop technology that really does something about land scarcity (admittedly land scarcity isn’t the issue it seems.) In the face of artificial scarcity, which we are in agreement should not be, we still experience real scarcity, so even by Locke’s criterion, property is demoted.

You have suggested we are not bound by economies or economics but by biology, we are slaved to biology. That may be the driver but its the problem I expect economics to solve crucially with a right to be idle. Again, we can call it what we want, but to me it is a base line. Especially, I think in the light of an honest appraisal of current work opportunities. It would not be at all surprising to me to find that 90% of work in the developed world makes people and society at large worse off. That developed world work by in large is not only unnecessary but that it is a net negative. Opting out of it is like civil disobedience or conscientious objection. In a way it would send the same kind of message to any in power hierarchy that a zero turn out vote would.

I recall Greenspan around the time when he was pushing socializing risk with ARMs &V RMs saying he felt an essential part of his job was making sure the common man did not get too comfortable. As if! So he was working to create more artificial scarcity so people could be coerced for next Vietnam or Iraq or whatever large scale scam, or just plain shoe shining and elevating the value of capital relative to the average life by creating unnecessary need and want. This kind of supply side demand creation and life cheapening can be blocked with a safety valve opt out through a right to be idle.

One doesn’t have to expatriate, one can just opt out. To me this is what demand side looks like. It puts pressure on them and as a point of leverage would tax away such nonsense. If the average person can’t be idle than the rich can’t either- they can’t sit there with more than they would ever need on a planet with resources which are contested for reasons both false and legitimate.

In a society where there is AI and work has been completely automated out, it may be that people get more for healthy living, study, exercise and engaging in social play. Maybe someone opting out gets less for opting out by being idle but it should still be possible. I don’t think it really reduces anyone else good life not even by opportunity cost. Its just freeing people from slavery to biological subsistence, which should be a primary goal for an economy and society.

I still think there is something to surplus receipt. Arguments about a car being the sum of its parts and there being nothing surplus on it or there being no fat, that a blue paint would not be surplus to a red paint… I don’t find it compelling. I think the surplus is real. I buy the idea that policy makers knew back in 70 that we were defacto retired and started supply side when they realized that without the necessity in work the leisure class itself was surplus. That was the end of the 30 glorious years and the beginning of a hard assertion of artificial scarcity. Wages were de-linked from inflation, civil rights and labor leaders assassinated. If the leisure class was retired they would take ownership of all capital and they would cannon fodder, warehouse, and treadmill the population. They would hide in gated communities and be able to zap anyone from space in 5 minutes.

In the early 30s when policy makers were considering the Social Security act, full time was supposed to be 28 hrs a week obviously based on what we needed in the bush prior to language and tools. The surplus receivers argued for the surplus in the form of the 40hrs week to support their style of life. The amount of revenue accruing to capital and labor tracked this split up to the 70s. This is covered in Rifken’s book “The End of Work.” Around 70, 2000 economists were suggesting a guaranteed annual income and dropping most government services. The Nixon admin bit but Liberals were worried about services. Services are buildings, paper and ai rconditioning and a lot of lip service. Similar themes are covered in “Race Against the Machine” MIT Press and Martin Fords “Lights in the Tunnel”- I haven’t read the latter two.

I think there is a real issue here. I’d like to believe social mobility is still alive but was the amount of mobility ever good enough? There is no point in trying to straw man that point but do we want people shining shoes for a living. Beyond a right to be idle I’d rather have people do nothing than do anything that could be shaming or dehumanizing. There is a psychic cost. Some of this isn’t any better than child labor. Maybe no employee should get less than half of what their work generates.

I know we were pressed together at one time and 16hrs a day of slave labor during bits of the agrarian period wasn’t enough to stave off famine, also that slavery then was at least dignified. And as I heard Dan Carlin say with slavery you could have “the kitchen of tomorrow yesterday.” IT was at least dignified. In old style slavery Cesar could be defeated in battle become some one’s nanny and them become a citizen and then Emperor. But current generation unnecessary wage slavery is a kind of prostitution- actually prostitution if voluntary among adults is absolutely virtuous in comparison.
Current wage slavery is a lobotomy. The right to be idle is a bar against it.

American HR law to me is a pure travesty and almost all of it enforcing oppressions that should become felony crimes- the operation of US HR law is oppressive crime. The most persistent and aggregate expression of deeply oppression criminality inside the US, and totally consistent with for profit prisons and the war on drugs. Its a total enclosure and imprisonment. Employer gets to dictate start times and lunch hours and gets to evaluate and gossip to the next employer and black ball. People are made sick with top down nonsense communication where the message is always one of inadequacy and fear and the demand for more and more for less and less and pitting people against each other with stupid competition. Hate would be too nice a word to describe my sentiment toward this nonsense. This stuff is crime. The movie “Office Space,” hardly describes it.

I know their have been some marginal improvements like sexual harassment policy but even that is sometimes turned into a tool of oppression. And employers whine about unions all the time. GM bitching that it was losing 2k per car and went bankrupt over employee benefits… again my general sentiment is the stock holders and the managers in these firms are generally useless to the endeavor and besides the point and they live off the contributions of others. GM execs chronically heard saying thing like “a car is an inefficient use of capital.” It was interesting to see Obama lop its head off. There are of course exceptions, but their mindset and entitlement and actual contributions are net negatives and parasitic to the endeavor and a huge anti competitive weight. Why did it take as long as it did for the US auto industry to go bankrupt? Any business with a profit focus is so weak as to not to deserve to be in business. US business with its 14 trucks of waste per truck of product despite its profit focus is unbelievable.

And yet US manufacturing is supposedly coming back in the Mid West. And its said the quality is the best even on a global scale. Telsa is doing fine. Apple was doing fine on a quality and design basis.

I don’t think there may be much disagreement on what may not be working. The non level playing field market players have been into suppressing competition and creating barriers to entry anyway they can. These efforts are cloaked in return-on-equity and addressing depreciation language, which translates into wrecking education, and not paying enough to employees to allow them to become competitors. Right down to building the factory and the robots in them there is little that can’t be automated out- even our highways will come to resemble assembly lines as automated povs and trucks come on line. More than 2-3 hrs of work a day spent on paper processing or data entry is probably cruel and certainly unnecessary treatment. Apparently we can automate farming even further with thin rails and a robotic gantry and do so in a way that gets rid of pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, monoculture, soil compaction, crop rotation- while producing a massive increase in yield.

Give people a right to opt out, a right to be idle at will, whenever they want without stigma and the worship of useless profit will start to shut down. This nonsense that profit was the purpose of business came about in the 70s and again was likely a realization that the leisure class and its exclusivity of leisure were useless and unjustified. It was another panicked over reach. Remember Regan’s classic over ride of the Air Traffic Controllers and their unions. Now sometimes there are only 2 air traffic controllers per airport and we’ve had trouble with them getting locked out of their terminal rooms.

I remember Russ Roberts on Econ Talk would sometimes interview a particular expert on banking. In one interview he recounted that Scotland (of all places) had experimented for a pure free market banking system and elites didn’t like it at all. Apparently they also don’t prefer Ben Franklin’s style of public banking either, a variant of which is in place in North Dakota and which Ellen Brown advocates for with public banking. Under that system people get 40 almost no interest rate loans with almost no terms and the proceeds of which go to the public treasury. North Dakota didn’t have any of the debt problems.

And thinking on this I think I remember that Japan with a sweep of the pen erased its public debt converted debt to asset. Some people didn’t get the expected return on bonds? Does that mean that Japan suddenly went to a public banking system or they busy re rigging their banking system. Not long after Robert Citron of Orange County CA flushed 20 billion of public funds down Japans rigged stock market in its collapse Japan then revealed a banking crisis based on corruption. I think this write off was them coming out of it. Did they go with a public banking or a pure free market system?