Thursday, September 11, 2014

Arbitrary value systems are arbitrary



Is there an arbitrary system of values that will justify capitalism? Sure. There's an arbitrary system of values that will justify anything. Matt Bruenig is therefore fighting an uphill battle:
There is no general framework of morality or justice that supports laissez-faire capitalism. This is a problem of course for those who wish to argue on behalf of it. When you talk to such people, a familiar argumentative pattern emerges that I have come to call Capitalism Whack-A-Mole.
Them: Capitalism is right because people should get what they earn through their hard work. 
Me: But...one-third of the national income goes to capital owners who have done no work at all for that income. If you really believe the economic system should distribute according to hard work, then you’ve got to at least tax capital income at 100%... 
Them: Capital owners may not produce anything to get that one-third of national income, but they got it through voluntary transactions. I am just against force and for voluntarism. 
Me: Transactions are not voluntary. They are coerced through systems of property ownership. You only trade with someone because there is a gun at your head to keep you from simply grabbing the thing that you trade for. There is nothing voluntary about that... 
Them: Capitalist institutions may require violent coercion to enforce, but they make everyone very rich. We’d be much poorer, even at the bottom of society, if we got rid of them. 
Me: OK. So you support using violent coercion in order to make sure people are well off. But people, especially the poor that you are now concerned with, are better off in Social Democratic systems than they are in laissez-faire capitalism. The diminishing marginal utility of money, by itself, justifies significant tax and transfer schemes under a “making everyone as well off as possible” analysis.
If I were trying to justify capitalism with an arbitrary ("deontological") system of values, I would not stop with the three simple examples Matt gives here. I would just move the goalposts. For example:

1. "Capitalism should reward either hard work or risk-taking. Thus, both labor and capital income are justified."

2. "I support conditional voluntarism, not absolute voluntarism. The government should use violence only to protect property rights, and for nothing else. Property rights are defined as blah blah blah..."

3. "I am a pure Benthamite, I care about the sum of utilities; I do not care about the poor more than the rich."

...and so on. In fact, I've heard people say all of these things in defense of capitalism. Matt might manage to smack these down as well by finding some way in which capitalism does not exactly conform to each. But the defenders of capitalism will simply make a small tweak. Matt will be playing Capitalist Whack-a-Mole for all eternity, because unlike classic Whack-a-Mole, the number of holes from which moles can emerge is not finite.

There is actually a mildly intellectually interesting philosophical question here, which is: "Is there a finite set of ethical principles that will yield a set of rules of capitalism whose cardinality is larger than the cardinality of the set of ethical principles?"

I suspect there is, but I also don't care, because I am a Humean, and I reject all clearly delineated ethical rules in favor of fuzzily defined, intuitive principles.

85 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:54 PM

    Let's keep it simple:

    WE, the hegemony, say how it is... and we use force to enforce it. You can appeal to our morality, but we'll never let go of the reins because of your argument. As such, the most moral use of your time is to craft policies we will allow to happen.

    Next question?

    - Morgan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Morgan,

      I know you get some sort of weird ego-trip out of pretending that you are personally in charge of everything... but the fact is that you're just a weirdo.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5:02 AM

      James, it's not an ego trip. If I wasn't right, things wouldn't be how they are. WE do set the terms of debate such that property law is not on the table for discussion, and if anyone acts / violates that, we kill him.

      It's the very thing Matt is complaining about.

      I'm under no obligation to justify what we do on moral terms, I'm not ever going to try.

      HOWEVER, Matt states he desperately wants to help the poor, and as such, a moral use of his time on earth, is to tell the poor, "Render under to Hegemony."

      Once that's done, there plenty of policy that Matt can suggest (GICYB) that the hegemony will accept and vastly improves the lot of the poor.

      Not doing so, would appear to mean he's more interested in rhetoric than in actual action.

      - Morgan

      Delete
    3. James8:14 AM

      "WE do set the terms of debate"

      Who is this 'we'?

      Do you personally decide what the law is? No.

      So you don't personally set the terms of the debate, do you Morgan.

      But you get an ego-trip from pretending that you do, because you're a weirdo. It's all explained clearly in my first comment.

      Are things exactly as you personally would like them to be, Morgan?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous9:40 AM

      Again, it's not an ego trip, it is the FACT Matt is complaining about.

      He has already CONCEDED the hegemony ruins his life. As someone who both supports the hegemony and the use of force to keep our ways in place, I'm part of the we. ANYONE who supports property rights is in favor of killing Matt if he rises up and tries to topple / steal our stuff.

      I'm here pointing out, that this fact doesn't and won't change by arguing with NAP Libertarians about morality of property, as such the discussion is moot.

      Frankly, I'm saying exactly what Noah is saying, I'm just saying speaking the underlying facts of it all, because the goofy moral stuff is much ado about nothing.

      Delete
    5. Bill Ellis4:58 PM

      It is an ego trip ... Because of the way you present your self as spokesman for the elite. As if you know what we "the common person" are able to coerce the elite to do or not.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous11:29 AM

      Sorry Bill, I created the optimal "possible" plan for welfare / unemployment:

      https://medium.com/@morganwarstler/guaranteed-income-choose-your-boss-1d068ac5a205

      And Noah's thesis advisor agrees:

      https://twitter.com/mileskimball/status/440880908522885120

      Delete
  2. Julian6:38 PM

    "You only trade with someone because there is a gun at your head to keep you from simply grabbing the thing that you trade for". I don't think that's right. You can make a case that trading is the rational thing to do, since if I grab the thing instead of trading it, it may not be created/produced again. Of course, not everyone can be convinced to be rational, so some people (a minority) have to be forced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the individual it is better to grab, for society it is better to enforce property rights (in most cases).

      It would be a great advance in the quality of the discussion if the "capitalists" would acknowledge that it is possible to have a conflict of interest between individual and society.

      #ThereIsNoSuchThingAsSociety :-(

      Delete
    2. Julian,

      I think the point is that you are not given the option to either trade or just take what you want. The gun is pointed at you to remind you that just taking what you want is not an option, even if that's what you would prefer to do.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous6:14 AM

      Victor,

      Why is it better for the individual to take rather than trade? Trade creates the possibility of a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. You make a friend rather than an enemy, which gives you a numbers advantage over the violent loners.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous6:50 PM

      Just taking what you want may lead to getting your ass beat. Hence, the lower risk option/choice is trade.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous6:42 PM

    The majority of Matt Bruenigs posts have the flavor of a college freshman who just discovered meta-ethics for the first time. Sure there are no universal moral laws that support lf capitalism. There are also no moral laws that prohibit national socialism. What is his point, especially after he has said it a thousand times?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he's just annoyed with libertarians.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7:20 PM

      Who isnt? But I'm annoyed with Bruenig for belaboring the same point over and over again.

      Delete
    3. Well, it is a mite pedantic, 'tis true.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:54 PM

      Needless to say, there is a large literature in moral and political philosophy on libertarianism of various stripes. Some of this argues for something like laissez-faire capitalism under certain conditions, other stuff argues for capitalism in a context of egalitarian control of natural resources, etc. I'm not sure any of these ideas are terribly compelling, but there they are. Saying they don't exist is factually incorrect.

      And of course, there is a large contingent of scholars arguing that under less deontological grounds that something like laissez-faire is optimal (e.g., maximizes utility or whatever). See, e.g., most right-wing economists. You don't have to agree with them to think these ideas don't exist.

      It's unfortunate if there are people who don't know any better being told that they need not read more widely because there is no there there. Lots of other people, plausibly many at least as thoughtful/knowledgeable as Bruenig, think these ideas are worthy of discussion and consideration, so he does a disservice to his readers when he says in effect. "I am aware of all right-wing traditions and none of them are worth your time". He's not, and some of them are.

      Delete
    5. Ah, The Courtier’s Reply. That's PZ Meyers' description of how "The Emperor has no clothes!" is defended by sycophants, and why that defense is fallacious.

      You don't have to be an expert in libertarianism to know it is baseless. Nozick, for example, does not have a justification for property, even though his principles of justice are based on property.

      The moral and political philosophy of libertarianism, in all its diversity, all seems to be bullshit because it ignores the positive, observable, amoral foundation for rights: coercion.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous6:45 AM

      "And of course, there is a large contingent of scholars arguing that ... that something like laissez-faire is optimal (e.g., maximizes utility or whatever). See, e.g., most right-wing economists.

      It's unfortunate if there are people who don't know any better being told that they need not read more widely because there is no there there."

      I've read a lot of that. There is no there there.

      Delete
    7. James8:18 AM

      Mike,

      "Nozick, for example, does not have a justification for property"

      Could you elaborate on that?

      "it ignores the positive, observable, amoral foundation for rights: coercion"

      Which texts would you recommend to read that make this point?

      Delete
    8. James:

      Does Nozick Have a Theory of Property Rights?

      As for the foundation of rights in coercion, let me cite a libertarian:

      "All ownership derives from occupation and violence. [...] That all rights derive from violence, all ownership from appropriation or robbery, we may freely admit to those who oppose ownership on considerations of natural law."
      Ludwig von Mises, "Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis" Ch. 1, section 2.

      Some may say "Hey wait, that IS an example of a libertarian not ignoring coercion." I would respond that it is mere plausible deniability: Mises, Rothbard and his ilk all preach natural rights nonsense on stilts, as you can see here: The Ethics of Liberty, Ch. 4 Natural Law and Natural Rights by Murray Rothbard.

      I also have my own idiosyncratic idea of how rights should be analyzed.

      All these obvious things and much more can be easily found at my website, Critiques Of Libertarianism.

      Delete
    9. > As for the foundation of rights in coercion

      MIke, I don't understand what you're saying.

      If by coercion you mean force, then yes, you need force to keep other people from violating your rights. I don't think anyone (libertarian or otherwise) disputes this. The dispute is over what the rights are.

      If by coercion, you mean the improper or unjust use of force, then you have it backwards. Rights (property rights or otherwise) don't "depend" on unjust force. The classification of force as either just or unjust relies on a system of rights. How else would it work? We say the burglar's use to break in the home is unjust because it violates property. We say that a police offer used unjust force because it violated the rights of some citizen. Etc.

      Delete
    10. marris: I think you have it backwards, as do many other people. Without coercion, you do not have rights: you have a claim. Everybody can make claims about the same thing. Add coercion for one claim, and then you have a right. Coercion in most dictionaries has nothing to do with justice: it has to do with creating compliance.

      This is an important point for refuting libertarian nonsense about being opposed to "initial force": all rights are based on the initial force of coercion. Yes, you can have a subjective opinion afterwards whether the coercion is just or unjust, but it is an observable fact (if not a definition) in law and anthropology that coercion is intrinsic to a right.

      Delete
    11. > Without coercion, you do not have rights: you have a claim. Everybody can make claims about the same thing.

      Nope. Rights can be violated.

      Suppose A walked up and punched B, who is a pacifist and refuses to fight back. Are you going to say that A has a "right" to do that, because A has force on his side? If so, then you are not using the word "right" in the way that most people do. Most people would say that B had a right to not be punched, even though he is a pacifist. They wouldn't say, "Well, B has a claim to not be punched, but then again, A has a claim to punch him... so let's look to the distribution of force to decide who has a right."

      I think you are correct that force is required to prevent many possible *violations of rights*, but no one is going to dispute that.

      Delete
    12. Bill Ellis5:11 PM

      Mike... illuminating . thanks for taking the time to explain that.

      Delete
    13. James6:19 PM

      "If by coercion, you mean the improper or unjust use of force, then you have it backwards"

      coercion is not the unjust use of force, it is simply the use of force. Coercion can be either just or unjust. Right-wing libertarians have no problem with using coercion if they think it is just... just like normal people.

      Delete
    14. James6:34 PM

      marris,

      "The dispute is over what the rights are"

      Yes, I think you are correct.

      First of all you have an idea of what a right is, and then you feel justified in using force, or coercion, to enforce or impose that right. This is the case with all rights.

      The problem with right-wing 'libertarians' is they just assume that their particular theory of rights is absolutely true and irrefutable, and then denounce people for "using force" to "violate their rights".

      They focus all of their rhetoric on this "use of force", whereas the real issue is disagreement over the underlying theory of rights. They just sweep that debate under the carpet and instead just shout, like a bunch of moronic lemmings, "you're initiating force... OMG evil!!!@!!!"

      Delete
    15. James6:35 PM

      marris,

      "The dispute is over what the rights are"

      Yes, I think you are correct.

      First of all you have an idea of what a right is, and then you feel justified in using force, or coercion, to enforce or impose that right. This is the case with all rights.

      The problem with right-wing 'libertarians' is they just assume that their particular theory of rights is absolutely true and irrefutable, and then denounce people for "using force" to "violate their rights".

      They focus all of their rhetoric on this "use of force", whereas the real issue is this disagreement over the underlying theory of rights. They just sweep that debate under the carpet and instead just shout, like a bunch of moronic lemmings, "you're initiating force... OMG evil!!!@!!!"

      Delete
    16. Thanks, Bill and James.

      Marris writes: "Suppose A walked up and punched B, who is a pacifist and refuses to fight back. Are you going to say that A has a "right" to do that, because A has force on his side?"

      Actually, that's the way rights worked in much of the world for millennia. And still does within families to a large extent.

      Now, we have states, the bigger force, deciding what rights are. Those are legal rights. Not because states are morally more correct, but because their force is bigger.

      Delete
    17. > coercion is not the unjust use of force, it is simply the use of force. Coercion can be either just or unjust.

      I've never heard anyone say that the person who fights back or threatens to fight back "coerced" the aggressor into backing down. Can you find some common examples of this kind of usage? I've only seen the term used in the context of improper force or improper threats.

      I think I will stick to the less ambiguous terms "force", "just force", and and "unjust force."

      Delete
    18. Actually, that's the way rights worked in much of the world for millennia. And still does within families to a large extent.

      Now, we have states, the bigger force, deciding what rights are. Those are legal rights. Not because states are morally more correct, but because their force is bigger.

      > Actually, that's the way rights worked in much of the world for millennia. And still does within families to a large extent.

      I agree that this is the way that rights were *enforced* for millennia, and I would argue that this is *still* how they are enforced. But that's not the point. I'm asking what *you* would say about my example. Would you say that "A has the right to punch B"? To make it simple, let's suppose that A is the king and B is a subject.

      My point is that "right" is a theoretical concept, whether we're talking about a claim in a summarized theory of justice or a law that says "Citizens have a right to ..." within a body of laws that a police authority is asked to enforce. It is only equivalent to "enforceable right" if the theory of justice under discussion is "might makes right."

      Further, there is nothing "new" about this characterization. The "divine right(s) of the king" is also a theory of justice, albeit an unconvincing one today. If some group of rebels took control of a part of the kingdom, neither the king or the king's loyal subjects in that area would say *well, I guess they had the right to do that*.

      Delete
    19. Sorry, there is some copy and paste typo above. Only the part after the > ... is my response. The part about it is copied from Mike's quotes.

      Delete
  4. I'm a huge fan of capitalism, and it's mainly for intuitive reasons. I think people should get money if someone else is willing to pay them for something: labor, exchanged items, temporary use (rent) of stuff they own.

    Also, I think people should be able to save up their money and give it to whomever they want, including their kids.

    Now I'm all for making intuitive adjustments around this. For example, if I stole something from you, then you are justified in taking it back, or going to the state, etc. And if that means some tax to prevent everyone from shooting at each other, fine. Societies with a smaller need for police would pay less in taxes.

    That's basically it... I'm willing to go further, like provide some kind of basic income, but only because it may create consensus with the more socialist groups in society, not because I think it's an ethical thing to do. And I'd be worried about it getting out of hand. Ideally, it would scale at something less than productivity, so that the net payers have a smaller and smaller burden over time, but the net recipients still see some improvement over time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Who cares who is annoyed with?

    He says right upfront, my team has the power, we have made all these rules to keep him down and stymie him.

    And most LIbertarians, the ones who actually run companies, own lots of stuff, and generally don't care about Non-Aggression, will look him right in eye and say, "YEP."

    So what?

    70%+ of population spends at least a little bit of their life in top 20% (doing the 80% Pareto pull). And 40%+ of the population spends good bit of time there.

    And most of us would like there to be some goofy nice moral reason for things, but if push comes to shove, we have all the guns, the money, the stuff, we run the churches, the PTAs, the service groups, we pay the salaries of every cop and every soldier.

    We aren't moving goal posts, we will KILL Matt and mount his skull on pike to warn the next morally debater off if he rousts a crowd of violent angry poor into revolution. What the hell do you think Zombie movies are about?

    Noah just made a nicey Liberal left way of saying Matt has no power, bc words don't matter, power does.

    -Morgan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow, you're really weird.

      p.s. why do these people you mention refer to themselves as libertarians if they are not libertarians? Are they liars?

      "And most LIbertarians, the ones who actually run companies, own lots of stuff, and generally don't care about Non-Aggression, will look him right in eye and say, "YEP."

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5:20 AM

      No no, they aren't liars. Anon (not me) at 10:54 makes point above, my beef with the NAPers is that they are a small group compared to the vast majority of tradition con-libertarians - they folks that run businesses and don't care about social issues.

      It's an interesting issue, because I don't "mind" NAPers, just like I don't mind people trying to prove there is a god. But we aren't going to hang our system of property on whether they are good debaters.

      THink about it like this... hegemony canes down to this:

      CAN + WANT = WILL

      Now IF those who CAN and WANT also amongst themselves share a shared belief in property law or a god, they might have a shared illusion that they can divine a moral justification.

      But in the end for the hegemony, it is preferences. And I concede that.

      But if you are against the hegemony, if you have WANT but you do not have CAN, then I question if you should allow your preferences to interfere with your actions, unless you are prepared to make war, otherwise you should find you best possible WANT inside the boundary of what you can do.

      If you can't beat them, join them.

      This can be a very subversive act in an of itself.

      - Morgan

      Delete
    3. James8:22 AM

      you're clearly a very confused individual.

      "con-libertarians"

      Yes indeed their so-called "libertarianism" is a con (a lie) if they believe in using aggressive coercion to force people to follow their set of rules, against their will.

      Delete
    4. James8:27 AM

      Morgan,

      MDZX makes a comment below that describes you well:

      "If someone says they are a sociopath and that their moral system is oppressing weak people, what can you say in response? You can't shame them, because they don't care, and they have nothing in common with almost every coherent moral philosophy."

      http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/arbitrary-value-systems-are-arbitrary.html?showComment=1410502339515

      Delete
    5. Anonymous9:54 AM

      "If someone says they are a sociopath and that their moral system is oppressing weak people, what can you say in response? You can't shame them, because they don't care, and they have nothing in common with almost every coherent moral philosophy."

      Let's rewrite that:

      Q: If someone is part of the hegemony that will fight and die to keep property law in place and they don't judge it as a moral issue but personal preferenc that justifies the use of force, what can you say in response?

      A: You have two choices. You can either make war on them, and try to wrest control of their property. OR you can realize you are fighting against a large majority of comfy, yet kind people who IF you craft the right kind of policy for the oppressed, they will agree to allow to happen.

      SO, anytime not doing 1 of those 2, is a immoral waste of your time if you are the sort who goes in for moral stuff.

      I myself have crafted the very best policy on the planet for welfare and unemployment, and my task was to dramatically improve lot of poor AND be 100% sure that the hegemony will accept it. Doing this is of course hard, most of y'all won't be dreaming up top level policy, but it is doable, and many people do accomplish it.

      Remember, Noah's thesis advisor Miles Kimball (as does Scott Sumner and Roger Farmer) outright agrees, nobody has a better plan than mine for Welfare and Unemployment.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous10:14 AM

      I don't know why I was directed to this post. It seems pointless.

      Clearly, the subset of self-avowed capitalists that are sociopaths and in it just to oppress the weak and impose their will on the world is pretty small. The vast remainder can be argued with on other grounds. Indeed, during the Great Depression, a large fraction of Americans accepted that capitalism was doomed to fail until Keynes and FDR came along. Just pointing at the bread lines was enough to make folks give up on defending the system.

      So in this case, whenever I am faced with egoists I simply ignore or insult them and work on convincing everyone else. It is unlikely that they will have much impact on the real world - sociopathy has never been a popular election platform, which is of course why politicians work so hard to hide their traits.

      MDZX

      Delete
    7. you're living in your own fantasy land.

      I've not seen Matt call for armed revolution. If a majority, or large enough minority, decide that they want to change the legal distribution of wealth and/ or income to make it fairer or more equal, then they will have the legal power and political ability to do so. Simple really. Your paranoid nonsensical ego trip fantasies have no place in any rational debate at all.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous10:40 AM

      "If a majority, or large enough minority, decide that they want to change the legal distribution of wealth and/ or income to make it fairer or more equal, then they will have the legal power and political ability to do so."

      It is simple, but you are clowning yourself.

      States are born by the hegemons in the state of nature. Money, government, all of it is a creation of the VERY PEOPLE most able to end a state if they don't like it. Not all animals are created equal when it comes to state formation and revolution, because the rights thing goes out the widow.

      It's not a truly "democratic" thing. We don't have a parliamentary Democracy, we have an independent Fed, we have a stronger form of Federalism than most other countries.

      You might say "the game is rigged" and I might agree with you just to keep from arguing about it.

      I believe my point goes over your head, EVEN THOUGH, the game is rigged, we have done remarkably well by the poorest and weakest, and YES we can do better (GICYB), but wasting time not actually adopting the things that can truly improve the lives of the poor with the full agreement of the hegemony, is just screwing the poor.

      Don't screw the poor.

      Delete
    9. James6:13 PM

      No, the real problem here is that you are not capable of thinking rationally.

      "States are born by the hegemons in the state of nature"

      What does that mean? Nothing. So, Alexander the Great went around conquering lots of people. Does that have any relevance to contemporary debates about how to organize Greek society? No.

      You're like an infant playing with lego bricks, building your little castles and imagining yourself to be the king of a great empire. You are delusional. Your arguments make no sense at all.

      Delete
    10. Anonymous6:19 PM

      I don't think Morgan realizes the biggest enemy of the hegemony are other members of the hegemony. And sometimes those in power will sympathize with the poor if it means bringing competition down.

      Delete
    11. Anonymous11:35 AM

      "States are born by the hegemons in the state of nature"

      What does that mean?

      It means THIS:

      https://medium.com/@morganwarstler/do-progressives-fake-naivete-94eedc4c961d

      And we saw it with fall of USSR and we are seeing it with Ukraine. Or Scotland. Talk to guys about what it's like on ground when there is no governing legal authority. Right then, the hegemony underneath the state, is perfectly viewable. Look at who put Scotland together, and who gains.

      Pls READ my actual approach, we go to "state of nature" anytime a state fails, if even for a short period.

      And forming a state requires their approval. All animals are not created equal. Asserting it makes you the child.

      Delete
    12. if states only exist to benefit a group of strong men, why is the basic rule of democracy 'one person one vote'?

      If the majority of people wanted to change the distribution of wealth to make it more equal, then they could and would.

      Your 'hegemons' just seems to mean 'the majority'.

      You're a moron.

      Delete
    13. Anonymous2:38 PM

      lulz, your logic proves my point, WHY don't we have perfect Democracy?

      Because WE don't want it.

      And you obviously didn't read the post, it's not a group of strong men, it's the top 40%+ of society, the ones with the most to lose in pure Democracy.

      My point is that EVEN THOUGH, this group does exert greater power and control, the outcomes it delivers are "near" the outcomes you think you can use morality debates to win.

      But there are boundaries imposed by force of will. EVERYTHING isn't on the table, we've deeply limited what can be achieved by one man one vote.

      I'm not a moron, I'm the guy who Noah's thesis advisor admits has whipped everybody else.

      There can be only one. And it will be Uber for Welfare.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous2:57 PM

      This is smart:

      "I don't think Morgan realizes the biggest enemy of the hegemony are other members of the hegemony. And sometimes those in power will sympathize with the poor if it means bringing competition down.

      I agree 100%.

      My point is EXACTLY THAT. That the correct play for those who want to help the poor is to GENERATE SYMPATHY and GENEROSITY in the hegemony.

      My entrie plan GICYB is to meant to maximize the consumption the poor receive EVEN BY making the poor more sympathetic (letting each state / city decide if they want to require work for a Guaranteed Income).

      And I'm glad to have you on my team!

      Because my argument is that Breunig is an idiot, because attacking the premise of property does NOT make the poor sympathetic. And it certainly doesn't get the hegemony feeling generous, it makes them go buy 2M more guns next month and create another run on ammunition.

      I refuse to believe someone who screams that property is theft wants to help the poor. He's just pissed off at the rich. And he'd rather make it about him, he's rather be a narcissist than buckle down and find solutions that hegemons will accept.

      Delete
    15. So, Morgan, how did you get elected spokesman for the top 40%?

      We aren't moving goal posts, we will KILL Matt and mount his skull on pike to warn the next morally debater off if he rousts a crowd of violent angry poor into revolution.

      Are you basically endorsing the murder of MLK, for example?

      Delete
    16. Anonymous12:05 AM

      MLK wasn't against property rights. Are you not paying attention?

      Dude, stop and breathe, I am making a very narrow and 100% UNSTOPPABLE argument, and I am only making it, because Bruenig decided to:

      1. Support violence, theft, and looting for what I consider to be the luckiest havenots in the world.

      2. Doesn't get this justifies violence to keep them from succeeding.

      Look Matt, I've simply spent a lot more time thinking about this than most, if not all of you, and I come at it in ways you haven't heard before.

      For example, property rights cannot be extended to ANYTHING digital - so in the near future with 3D printing, you will pay only for the atoms, and the 3D designs will be free. And every year more of our consumption is digital.

      I'm far more radical than MB, I'd give EVERY POOR IN THE WORLD a free copy of every book, movie, song, classroom, and 3D model.

      BUt I'd STILL let people kill someone to stop their atoms from being stolen.

      If it can be copied, it cannot be "owned" - not in our true sense of property.

      We'd NEVER shoot someone to keep them from making a copy of something digital you bought. But a physical thing? Well most of us get that.

      So remember, atomic property rights are a very narrow, but completely necessary part of human life TODAY. And I hope to get us to a point where people don't even want many atoms anymore.

      Until then, MB and his stupid little goofy BS, well I'm just agreeing that we do violently repress him, and refusing to debate if we should.

      Delete
    17. James7:13 AM

      so clearly the problem is that you are a stupid and ignorant sociopath who believes in a load of confused and meaningless nonsense, and you suffer from paranoid and egomaniacal delusions including the belief that that 40% of the population are exactly the same as you.

      Delete
    18. Dude, stop and breathe

      That's a beautiful piece of projection.

      Speaking of paying attention, Morgan, I suggest you turn your heroic powers of analysis to the political assassinations of the 1960's. Because, frankly, the people responsible for them are your people.

      Over and out.

      Delete
    19. Anonymous11:04 AM

      https://www.linkedin.com/pub/matt-stern/17/8a8/729

      Matt Stern calls me a racist and over and out?

      Was MLK assassinated by some psycho who was in the hegemony? Sure.

      My people (techno-libertarians) delivered gay marriage and legalized drugs in 15 years. All the progress you claim to seek, my people invent the tech that alters the population to achieve it.

      And now with the feedback loop / cred systems, we're going to have Uber for Welfare, and increase consumption of the poor by 30%+ without spending another dime.

      And you Stern? You will be able to keep making cabinets and calling people online racist.

      Delete
    20. Anonymous11:15 AM

      James, NO, think I do NOT think that the top 40% are all the same as me, I KNOW that on one small issue: Property, the 40% will come together and agree that they all get to own their sh*t, and if someone tries to end it, it's better to kill him.

      Stop deluding yourself, that I'm saying anything other than: Property is here to stay because we say so, and IF you should think before your rile up people against it.

      I say the same thing on guns. Guns are here to stay, and if you rile up people to get rid of them, INSTEAD we end up with a national database of mentally ill. people who "might" freak out, and suddenly can't work, or are treated as second class citizens.

      If you blithely assume things can't GET WORSE for your side when you argue, you make giant errors.

      This requires reality based thinking. Men with plenty to lose shouldn't (since they ultimately won't) act like they have nothing to lose.

      Man you boys REALLY don't want to be reminded of the reality around you.

      Delete
    21. calling people online racist.

      Well, I guess that's a pretty good measure of your analytical acumen!

      Delete
    22. Anonymous8:48 PM

      Sorry bub, that's who and all you are.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous8:37 PM

    "a finite set of ethical principles that will yield a set of rules of capitalism whose cardinality is *larger* than the cardinality of the set of ethical principles"
    Surely you mean "smaller"? A larger set sounds useless to me, as it will encompass all of ethics and then some.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As somebody who has been countering libertarian propaganda for 40 years, I think Matt is doing a good service by providing simple and clear refutations of the current ideological assault.

    The vast majority of libertarians are capable of nothing more than smugly parroting talking points. If you don't know how to refute them, they look good to onlookers and can lead you to doubt your own position. In my experience, this majority of libertarians is incapable of defending these talking points against any argument.

    The Koch brothers have invested many millions of dollars to develop and disseminate these talking points. Matt's arguments can help to undo that work. And that might be the limit of Matt's philosophical intent. Switching to Noah's variants would require a lot of retraining of ideologues and might be harder if the variants are more complex.

    I don't really care about the bullshit ideology or philosophy of libertarianism. The real problem (to me) is that it is in service of plutocracy. For that reason, rebuttals to the propaganda are important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Student9:37 AM

      I agree as well.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous12:11 AM

      I disagree. we know capitalism is the system that maximizes total GDP per capita better than its alternatives. Therefore, starting a sentence claiming that there is no moral basis for capitalism is beyond bullshit. Capitalism's effectiveness at generating economic growth is it's moral basis ! I lived in the Soviet Union, so I know what the alternative looks like. It's much less moral, believe me.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous12:17 AM

      I wish I had a time machine to send Matt to Soviet Union circa 1982 and leave him there permanently. What a bunch of B.S.

      Delete
    4. All first world nations are mixed economies, not capitalist economies. So we don't "know" what you claim. And the idea that the Soviet union is "the alternative" is a first-class false dichotomy.

      So who is guilty of B.S. here?

      Delete
    5. James1:31 PM

      "Therefore, starting a sentence claiming that there is no moral basis for capitalism is beyond bullshit"

      Actually, what Matt said was:

      "There is no general framework of morality or justice that supports laissez-faire capitalism"

      Delete
    6. Anonymous11:23 AM

      according to wikipedia,

      Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit.[1][2] Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets and wage labour.[3] In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged.[4]

      if he is claiming that this system has no moral basis, he is full of crap. If he is claiming something else, I apologize

      As far as bringing in Soviet Union, it is not a false dichotomy. Soviet Union is the only large scale attempt to get rid of capitalism as defined above, which failed spectacularly and miserably. So ignoring this fact, while having a discussion about capitalism, is flat out ridiculous.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous2:12 AM

    Wait until you come across the egoists, sometimes labelled the Nietzcheans. They literally come out and say that they like capitalism because it efficiently sifts the strong from the weak (their definition of power being "that which allows your will to shape reality"). The rest doesn't matter. Seems horribly inefficient to me, but they don't care about utility either.

    There's nothing you can argue with there, except maybe finding a system that better sifts the strong from the weak (I figured a bureaucratic dictatorship would be that system, but apparently not). If someone says they are a sociopath and that their moral system is oppressing weak people, what can you say in response? You can't shame them, because they don't care, and they have nothing in common with almost every coherent moral philosophy.

    Anarcho-capitalists and libertarians these days tend to include lots of these types, which further casts suspicion on the goals of those movements.

    MDZX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:54 AM

      http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2014/09/arbitrary-value-systems-are-arbitrary.html?showComment=1410530065512#c8179555128471683272

      Delete
  9. Your point 2 is doing quite a lot of work. "State can use force for property rights but I refuse point blank to say what a property right is ." So, for example, you're not ruling out slavery, as long as it's justified on utilitarian grounds.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I personally prefer the Winston Churchill defense of democracy and capitalism: It's the worst system invented, save for all the others that have been tried.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous10:57 AM

    I think that people lived before Marx. They wrote stuff and had ideas that they came up with over 5000 years, but I don't think that they were as thoughtful as you. They came up with ideas like "Magna Carta" and Cicero's ideas against tyranny. The basic gist of these bad dead white people is that government tends to tyranny. You really aren't talking about "capitialism"... you are talking about property rights, and they exist because the narcissistic thugs, who dominate intellectual life and government, tend to operated as glorified organized crime really like to steal. Socialism does a very good job in rationalizing theft and unlimited power, so government and rent-seeking intellectuals naturally love it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Scott, what you're really saying is that libertarians as a group are playing the 'If you can't make me say I'm wrong I win' game. Yes, not only light-weights, bu morally contemptible. For something a little gentler, you could do worse than this Calvin and Hobbes strip

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hmm . . . apparently this site doesn't recognize the image tag. So I'll repost with this Calvin and Hobbes reference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:51 PM

      sorry scent, you want to pretend kill, my side kills dead.

      We set the rules, you live in our normative reality. If you didn't, you wouldn't be so miserable.

      Ask yourself, which one of us is enjoying things as they are right now?

      Checkmate

      Delete
    2. Chuckle. No, you lost -- by demanding I play by your rules and then still losing after playing on your terms. Yeah, you go ahead and knock over the board while declaring you 'really' won. That'll show me ;-)

      How does it feel to be such a loser?

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:23 PM

      Scent, I'm not complaining about the system. You are.

      My rules are the reality you are complaining about.

      I'm comfy.

      You aren't.

      Go ahead explain to everyone your team is in charge. I dare you.

      Delete
    4. Chuckle. You cannot read very simple words, can you? Point to any place I have 'complained'. You can't, any more than you can say I'm 'complaining' the sky is blue by noting it is so. But you go ahead, 'lil boy. Tell everyone you 'won' by the very fact that other people are making comments.

      Delete
  14. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Scent:

    'If you can't make me say I'm wrong I win'

    "No, you lost -- by demanding I play by your rules and then still losing after playing on your terms. Yeah, you go ahead and knock over the board while declaring you 'really' won."

    "Tell everyone you 'won' by the very fact that other people are making comments."

    and again for effect:


    'If you can't make me say I'm wrong I win'

    -----

    I'm was asking if you if you are comfy, and feel the system works, and are prepared to improve it but within a frame that continues the current path by and large, with a policy based on technological change. StatusQuo 2.0.

    And If you aren't complaining about reality, then we have no beef.

    I'm glad to have you aboard. But note I'm not judging a debate, I'm simply here to remind everyone property isn't actually up for discussion, and cause much gnashing of teeth.

    My what a miserable shot you are.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Chuckle. "I did so mean to shoot myself. Watch me do it again." What a weakling. Incidentally, it's quite obvious you have neither property nor liquidity; those who have those things can easily spot fakes like you. In fact, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you couldn't keep from replying yet again. Better yet, I, your better, command you to post again. Do it now while squirming inside your no doubt off-the-rack clothing purchased at some prole outlet.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous11:41 AM

    Scent, we have no argument! You agree with me property is here to stay and you insist you aren't complaining about it. And to those who are complaining and think they are landing blows:

    "My what a miserable shot you are."

    If there is something we disagree about let me know, and I'll give ya good smack! But I can't find the disagreement, other than that I make you angry, and that's totally understandable.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Morgan is rather easily manipulated, isn't he? Also a projector: it must make him terribly, terribly angry to be forced to do the bidding of his betters ;-) I'll stop playing with the pliable little chew toy now -- his insufficient vocabulary limits his amusement value.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous6:23 PM

    So, no disagreement?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Um, no, Bentham did care about the poor more than the rich. In a particular sense. Not because they were poor - everybody's got the same capacity for happiness - but because of diminishing marginal utility of income/wealth. So the poor get the same weight in the social calculus, but, society gets more utils if it transfers income from rich to poor. So if you're maximizing society's utils, you need to care about the poor. Again, not because of any altruism or crude egalitarianism but simply because there is more utils to be gained by helping them out.

    The market does care more about the rich than the poor. It maximizes a Utilitarian Social Welfare function where the weight of a person in it, is the inverse of their marginal utility of wealth. Rich people = more wealth = lower MU of wealth = higher 1/MU = bigger weight in the market's implicit social welfare function. In a way it's the complete flip of Classical, Benthamite, Utilitarianism. Sometimes I think this isn't pointed out often enough. Call it the Third Theorem of Welfare Economics.

    Anyway, that's what that joker you're responding to should be arguing, not some "capitalists don't produce anything" nonsense (what are we, vulgar Ricardians?)

    ReplyDelete
  20. bjdubbs4:19 AM

    There are justifications for capitalism that have little to do with the juvenile moralism of the libertarians. As Leo Strauss once said, "One may venture to say that no writer outside mental institutions ever justified the moral right to unlimited acquisition on any other ground than that of service to the common good." Which is, of course, exactly what the libertarians do.

    ReplyDelete
  21. mega turtle4:01 PM

    But Noah.

    You are forgetting that in a capitalist system the elite captures the fruits of the labor of honest, hard-working Americans via the Federal Reserve system and fiat money established by neoliberal economists and male privilege.

    In other words, banksters profit by keeping the minimum wage down and unemployment up via the Trilateral Commision's policy of class warfare.

    As a result, the rhizomatic Other is reduced to a Nothingness, controlled by the military-industrial patriarchy.

    Power. Patriarchy. Hierarchy. Michel Foucault!

    ReplyDelete